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NATURAL HISTORY

LARGE-FLOWERED WOOLLY MEADOWFOAM } Limanthes floccosa ssp. Grandiflora
FAMILY: Limnanthaceae

DESCRIPTION:The large-flowered woolly meadowfoam is an annual species in the meadowfoam family, typically measuring from two to six inches tall with two-inch leaves divided into five to nine segments. Its stems and leaves are sparsely covered with hairs, and the flowers are densely covered with woolly hairs. Each of the five flower petals has two rows of hairs near its base. Flowers are white to yellowish colored.

HABITAT: Woolly meadowfoam occurs at the edges of vernal pools at elevations of 1,230 to 1,310 feet, generally near the wetter, inner edges as opposed to the drier outer fringes. Its habitat is characterized by shallow, Agate-Winslow complex soils, a relative lack of trees, sparse prairie vegetation, and agates commonly found on the soil surface. Associated species include small-flowered lupine, poverty clover, least mouse-tail, and Cook’s lomatium.

RANGE: This species is known from a small area in the Agate Desert near Medford, Jackson County, Oregon, on the floor of the Rogue River basin. Its historical range in the Agate Desert may have encompassed more than 50 square miles, within an 11-mile radius of White City, Oregon.

LIFE CYCLE: Flowering typically occurs from April through May, when water is readily available; plants’ life cycles are completed before the Agate Desert’s hot, dry summer conditions begin.

THREATS: The large-flowered woolly meadowfoam has declined because of industrial, commercial, and residential development; road and power-line construction and maintenance; hydrological alteration; livestock grazing; agricultural conversion; weed competition; mowing; roadside herbicide spraying; and off-road vehicle destruction.

POPULATION TREND: Large fluctuations in year-to-year plant numbers make population trends difficult to determine, but a number of consecutive drought years could possibly eliminate some populations of this meadowfoam. As of 2002, the large-flowered woolly meadowfoam was believed to be extant in only about 15 sites in Jackson County. While some populations had shown local increases in abundance, the plant’s overall range has declined by roughly 50 percent.

Photo by Rick McEwan