Species Profile

Seaside Birds-foot Lotus

Scientific Name: Lotus formosissimus
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2010
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This showy perennial has a highly restricted range limited to a few sites of vernal pools and areas of seepage in Garry Oak ecosystems of southeastern Vancouver Island. Its small populations appear stable but are under continued threat from loss of habitat resulting from succession by woody species, spread of invasive plant species, and grazing by introduced rabbits.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in April 1996. Status re-examined and confirmed in May 2000 and November 2010.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2003-06-05

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Distribution and Population | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Seaside Birds-foot Lotus

Seaside Birds-foot Lotus Photo 1

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Description

The plant is a sprawling, multi-stemmed perennial herb measuring 20-50 cm in length and possessing compound, pinnate leaves. It is characterized by clusters of pea-like flowers 10-15 mm long, which are mostly yellow with pinkish to purplish wings. They are held within an axis of three fragile bracts. Three to seven egg-shaped leaflets are joined to the stem by slender stalks 4-8 cm long. Pods are 27-36 mm long and hold seven to 15 dark-brown to black, olive-speckled seeds.

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Distribution and Population

The Seaside Birds-foot Lotus is restricted to the west coast of North America. It occurs west of the Cascade Mountains from southern British Columbia to Oregon and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Monteray, California. In Canada, it has been confirmed on two sites in the Victoria area: one on an ecological reserve on Trial Island; the other on Rocky Point at the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island (on property leased by Department of National Defence). These populations consist of fewer than 200 plants. Two other Canadian populations have likely become extirpated. A fifth Canadian population is thought to exist but could not be located.

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Habitat

The species requires unique conditions found in Canada on the eastern side of Vancouver Island and some of the adjacent islands. These habitats are characterized by open stands of Garry oak combined with grass-dominated meadows or rock outcrops. Climate is mild and wet in winter, warm and dry in summer. The soils, shallow or deep, retain moisture for long periods.

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Biology

Shoots emerge in the spring; flowering occurs from May until the end of June. Seed maturation and dispersal begin in July, when drought conditions are prevalent. The plant dies back to rootstocks a short while later. The Seaside Birds-foot Lotus probably depends on cross-pollination for seed production; bees are considered the plant's primary pollinators. Evidence suggests that seeds tend to germinate easily, although their hard coat can delay germination for months or years.

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Threats

Habitat destruction resulting from agricultural and residential development is severely limiting the introduction of this species to new areas. Fire suppression and the introduction of aggressive European species are other factors contributing to the decline of this plant. Known populations are located on protected public properties relatively sheltered from habitat destruction, although the Rocky Point population is threatened by cow, deer and rabbit grazing.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Seaside Birds-foot Lotus is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team

  • Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 250-478-5153  Send Email

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

17 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Seaside Birds-foot Lotus (2011-12-08)

    This showy perennial has a highly restricted range limited to a few sites of vernal pools and areas of seepage in Garry Oak ecosystems of southeastern Vancouver Island. Its small populations appear stable but are under continued threat from loss of habitat resulting from succession by woody species, spread of invasive plant species, and grazing by introduced rabbits.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for Multi-Species at Risk in Maritime Meadows associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada (2016-11-04)

    This strategy has been developed to address the recovery of seven plant and two butterfly species and their associated habitats. These species are all characterized by one or more of the following: total population decline, small distributions with decline or fluctuation, loss of habitat, declining small population sizes or very small populations or restricted distribution (COSEWIC 2003b). Unless recovery actions are initiated, these species may become extinct or extirpated from Canada.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada (2017-08-24)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada (Fort Rodd Hill) applies to lands occurring within the boundaries of the site. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at Fort Rodd Hill.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 - 2011 (2011-09-09)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#16), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-12)

    The SAR at each site occurs in open meadows that are being encroached by Scotch broom, English ivy, gorse, English holly, Daphne spurge, thistles and/or conifers. Our goal is to remove the invading species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations. Invasive removal will likely increase habitat availability and prevent future competition, should these invasive species invade further into the meadow. Also, elimination of competition is hypothesized to increase plant vigour, seed production, and over time, population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#17), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-05-12)

    The immediate goal of this project is to protect selected populations from habitat degradation due to invasive species and human activities, and the effects of browsing. In the case of Sanicula arctopoides and Lotus formosissimus, which occur in open meadows that are being encroached by Scotch broom, thistles and tansy ragwort, these invasive species will be removed from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations and monitored. Mesh cages were previously installed over individuals to protect them from browsing. It is postulated that the SAR will benefit from these activities through increased habitat availability, competition reduction with encroaching invasives. Also, it is thought that the elimination of browsing will increase plant vigour, seed production, and over time, population size. Subpopulations of Seriocarpus rigidus are also thought to be threatened by competition from invasive species, although the invasives may also be providing protection from browsing. To prevent management errors and put the species at further risk, the applicants will determine the impact of this removal on predation from herbivores on a small scale. Scotch broom and other herbaceous weeds will be removed from small patches of the subpopulations that are being dominated by Scotch broom while leaving the remaining subpopulations undisturbed. Over time, the impacts of this removal will be assessed by monitoring for browsing activity and plant vigour. Sanicula bipinnatifida is being threatened by habitat degradation (soil erosion facilitated by human activities) and encroaching invasive species at the Macaulay Point site. A split-rail fence was previously installed on the crest of the upper slope of the subpopulation to redirect foot traffic to the formal pathways and away from the species at risk. Also, approximately one hectare of invasive woody species was removed from the site in 2004-05. The effects of these activities on the species at risk will be monitored by assessing the species for leaf damage throughout its growing season.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#5), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2006-04-01)

    The immediate goal of this project is to protect selected populations from habitat degradation and the effects of browsing. Depending on the species and the location, the habitat degradation is either from invasive species or human activities. In the case of Sanicula arctopoides and Lotus formosissimus, the proponents propose to remove the woody invasive species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations and place mesh cages over individuals to protect them from browsing. Removal of invasive species and elimination of browsing is expected to decrease the threat of habitat loss or degradation, and increase plant vigour and productivity, respectively. To determine the level of browsing protection the woody invasive Scotch Broom provides to Seriocarpus rigidus and to prevent future management errors and put the species at further risk, we must determine the impact of removal of Scotch Broom on predation from herbivores on a small scale. The proponents will experimentally remove Scotch Broom from small patches of the subpopulations that are being dominated by Scotch broom while leaving the remaining subpopulations undisturbed. Differences in browsing activity and plant vigour will be monitored. Sanicula bipinnatifida and Lupinus densiflorus var. densiflorus is being threatened at one site by habitat degradation (soil erosion facilitated by human activities) and encroaching invasive species. To prevent trampling and further soil erosion, the proponents will plant a living fence on the crest of the upper slope of the subpopulation to redirect foot traffic away from the species at risk.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#59-04-0388), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2004-07-19)

    The activity involves experimental removal of invasive species and creation of living fences from populations of five plant species at risk. The goal is to implement management activities to recover these species on federal lands. The immediate objective of this project is to protect selected populations from anthropogenic habitat degradation, competition from invasives, and the effects of browsing. Invasive species removal may expose target species to higher levels of herbivory. This activity addresses this hypothesis, which has implications for future recovery efforts, by means controlled experimental study.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#59-05-0231), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2005-02-15)

    The immediate goal of this project is to protect selected populations from habitat degradation and the effects of browsing. Depending on the species and the location, the habitat degradation is either from invasive species or human activities. In the case of Sanicula arctopoides and Lotus formosissimus, the proponents propose to remove the woody invasive species from the area adjacent to the selected subpopulations and place mesh cages over individuals to protect them from browsing. Removal of invasive species and elimination of browsing is expected to decrease the threat of habitat loss or degradation, and increase plant vigour and productivity, respectively. To determine the level of browsing protection the woody invasive Scotch Broom provides to Seriocarpus rigidus and to prevent future management errors and put the species at further risk, we must determine the impact of removal of Scotch Broom on predation from herbivores on a small scale. The proponents will experimentally remove Scotch Broom from small patches of the subpopulations that are being dominated by Scotch broom while leaving the remaining subpopulations undisturbed. Differences in browsing activity and plant vigour will be monitored. Sanicula bipinnatifida and Lupinus densiflorus var. densiflorus is being threatened at one site by habitat degradation (soil erosion facilitated by human activities) and encroaching invasive species. To prevent trampling and further soil erosion, the proponents will plant a living fence on the crest of the upper slope of the subpopulation to redirect foot traffic away from the species at risk.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#59-05-0365), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2005-04-13)

    The number of plants, by phenological/demographic stage, are tracked and described in marked quadrats using non-destructive sampling techniques. Where possible, plants are simply counted by phenological stage and demographic class. Occasionally, fruits are collected in order to count seeds using a dissecting microscope. In experimental establishment studies, germination, establishment and survival of selected species are documented in experimental treatment sites. These treatment sites will be restricted to sites currently unoccupied by these or other species at risk. Invasive shrubs and herbs threatening populations of the aforementioned species at risk are removed in the vicinity of plants at risk.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#FRH-2010-7332), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2011-02-01)

    This project aims to establish a small-scale experimental translocation of Seaside Birds-foot Lotus, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act, to Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada, British Columbia. This project will enhance the recovery of the species by addressing key knowledge gaps about the species, and helping to meet the stated recovery strategy goals in accordance with the Species at Risk Act. The work involves out-planting Seaside Birds-foot Lotus plants at one translocation site; treating and monitoring transplanted plants; and possible exotic plant control.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2007-0050), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2007-05-08)

    In order to protect a suite of SARA Schedule 1 plants at risk from habitat degradation at various federal properties, invasive species will be removed from the area adjacent to sub-populations of these species at risk by pulling by hand or manually cutting. Invasion of exotic species has been identified as a serious and increasing threat to these sub-populations. The invasive species biomass will be removed from the sites. Removal of invasive plants is believed to increase habitat availability for plants at risk, prevent future competition, as well as increase plant vigour, seed production and population size.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2009-0112), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-06-18)

    This project will establish small-scale experimental translocated populations of Lotus formosissiumus, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1. The project involves seed collection at the donor site, propagation, establishing and treating experimental plots at translocation sites, monitoring, and possible exotic plant control. This project is specifically designed to enhance the recovery of L. formosissiumus and to meet the recovery goals laid out in the Recovery Strategy for Multi-species at Risk in Maritime Meadows Associated with Garry Oak Ecosystems in Canada.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2009-0126), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-02-04)

    The goal of this project is to protect selected populations of rare species from habitat degradation due to invasive species or conifer encroachment. The species include: Bartramia stricta, Rigid Apple Moss Dryopteris arguta, Coastal Wood Fern Enthostodon fascicularis,Banded Cord-moss Epilobium densiflorum, Dense Spike-primrose Limnanthes macounii ,Macoun's Meadowfoam Lotus formosissimus, Seaside Birds-foot Lotus Lupinus densiflorus, Dense-flowered Lupine Meconella oregano, White Meconella Microseris bigelovii, Coast Microseris Minuartia pusilla, Dwarf Sandwort Ranunculus alismifolius, Water-plantain Buttercup Sanicula arctopoides, Bear's-foot Sanicle Sanicula bipinnatifida, Purple Sanicle Tortula laevipila, Twisted Oak Moss The permit proposal is for multi-year species at risk (SAR) stewardship activities at several Department of National Defence (DND) properties on Southern Vancouver Island. The SAR at each site occur in open meadows that are being encroached by invasive species such as: Scotch broom, English ivy, gorse, English holly, Daphne spurge, English hawthorn, herbaceous annual and biennial weeds, annual and perennial grasses and/or conifers. The goal is to remove the invading species from the area within and adjacent to the selected SAR populations.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2010-0160), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2010-11-01)

    This project involves the propagation of Lotus formosissimus (seaside bird's-foot lotus) to support a small-scale experimental translocation of the species, an endangered species listed under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act, to federal land owned by the Parks Canada Agency. No critical habitat and/or residences of species at risk will be affected by the proposed propagation of Lotus formosissimus in a federal facility.

Exceptions

  • Public Registry Notice for s.83 Exceptions - CFB Esquimalt (2015-03-06)

    Operations directed to ensuring that training areas are sustainable for activities related to national defence/security. Specifically, the exceptions apply to activities for the control and management of vegetation that interferes with, or restricts, training.
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