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NATURAL HISTORY

SPREADING NAVARRETIA } Navarretia fossalis
FAMILY: Polemoniaceae

DESCRIPTION: The spreading navarretia grows to be about six inches tall and has small, linear, lavender to white flowers that appear in dense clusters amid spine-tipped leaves. The fruit is an egg-shaped, two-chambered capsule.

HABITAT: The spreading navarretia is primarily associated with vernal pools, alkali playas, and alkali sinks. It sometimes is found in ditches and other artificial depressions, which occur in degraded vernal pool habitat. It lives in elevations between sea level and 4,250 feet.

RANGE: This plant is found in widely disjunct and restricted populations from the Santa Clarita region of Los Angeles County, east to Riverside County, and south through San Diego County and Baja California, Mexico.

LIFE CYCLE: The spreading navarretia blooms from March to May.

THREATS: Most of the spreading navarretia’s historical habitat has been eliminated by agriculture and urban development. The plant is also threatened by off-road vehicles, flood control, grazing, and the invasion of nonnative species.

POPULATION TREND: Fewer than 30 populations of spreading navarretia remain in the United States, with nearly 60 percent of these concentrated in just three California locations: Otay Mesa in southern San Diego County, along the San Jacinto River in Riverside County, and near Hemet in Riverside County. The majority of populations contain fewer than 1,000 individuals and occupy less than an acre of habitat. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that the species is found on less than 300 acres of total habitat in the United States. In Mexico, it occurs in only about 10 populations.

Photo by Ileene Anderson