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NATURAL HISTORY

WILLOWY MONARDELLA } Monardella linoides ssp. viminea
FAMILY: Lamiaceae

DESCRIPTION: The willowy monardella is a perennial herb in the mint family with a woody base and strongly aromatic foliage. The leaves of this species are linear to lance-shaped. Greenish-white, often rose-tipped bracts lie below dense terminal heads of pale white to rose-colored flowers. This species can be distinguished from other members of the genus by its waxy, green, hairy stems and its conspicuously gland-dotted bracts.

HABITAT: Willowy monardella is found in chaparral and riparian scrub, usually at sandy locales in seasonally dry washes and floodplains, and it is frequently associated with California buckwheat, sycamore, coast live oak, California sagebrush, and coyote bush.

RANGE: Occurrences of this species are concentrated in the Miramar area of San Diego County. Recently, this taxa was split into two distinct species (Monardella viminea and M. stoneana). The willowy monardella (M. viminea) is only located in Miramar area of San Diego County. The more widely distributed M. stoneana is found in the southern part of San Diego County and extends south into Baja California, Mexico.

LIFE CYCLE: Willowy monardella is perennial subshrub that sends up flowering stalks in late spring and blooms between June and August.

THREATS: Urban development, sand and gravel mining, off-road vehicle activity, trampling, trash dumping, erosion, fire, road construction, hydrological alterations, and invasion of nonnative species pose significant threats to the willowy monardella.

POPULATION TREND: This species is declining in large part due to degradation of the sandy embankments in major canyon riparian systems where it is found. Currently, known occurrences of willowy monardella remain in only three major watersheds in the Miramar area of San Diego County. It used to occur in four other watersheds but has been extirpated by transportation projects, industrial development, and conversion of its habitat into perennial riparian plant communities. Only 10 populations of this lovely plant remain in the wild.

Photo © Jasmine Watts