Species Profile

Pink Sand-verbena

Scientific Name: Abronia umbellata
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2004
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: B1ab(ii,iii)+2ab(ii,iii); C2a(i,ii); D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: An herb of maritime beach habitats last seen at a single site along the west coast of Vancouver Island with losses of two historic populations. The site of the last documented population is greatly disjunct from other small populations in Oregon. The species is found, characteristically, in low numbers and tends to persist in the seed-bed of its beach and foredune habitats, sporadically producing flowering plants. The species was last recorded in 2001 with only several plants present. It is assumed that the species may still persist as dormant seeds and may produce reproductive plants at some future date. The expansion of exotic beach grasses has reduced the quality and availability of its upper beach and foredune habitats at a number of sites within its historic range.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2004.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2005-07-14

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

Image of Pink Sand-verbena

Pink Sand-verbena Photo 1

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Taxonomy

Two subspecies of Pink Sand-verbena are known: the typical subspecies umbellata and the subspecies breviflora. Because this species is represented in Canada only by the subspecies breviflora, the name “Pink Sand-verbena” is used here without specifying the subspecies.

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Description

The Pink Sand-verbena is a perennial herb. In Canada, the plants have trailing stems up to 1.5 m long. The leaves are lance-shaped with rounded tips or widened bases. They are arranged in opposite pairs along short branches and are thick, fleshy, and densely glandular. The leaves are 2 to 6 cm long and 0.8 to 3.5 cm wide. They have a stalk called a petiole that is 2.5 to 7 cm long. The flowers occur in many-blossomed rounded clusters. These large balls of greenish or pinkish flowers are on a stout stalk called a peduncle, which is 2 to 4 cm long. Each flower consists of a tube 6 to 8 mm long that flares into five pink lobes, each of which is 5 to 6 mm wide. The Pink Sand-verbena bears dry fruits called achenes, which are 10 to 12 mm long. Each achene has three or four distinctive wings that are wider than the rest of the fruit and it contains a single, brown seed approximately 3 mm long and 1.5 mm wide. This species can be easily confused with its close relative Abronia latifolia when the latter is not flowering. However, Abronia latifolia can be distinguished by its yellow flowers; its leaves, which are wider than those of the Pink Sand-verbena; and the wings of its achenes, which are narrower than the rest of the fruit rather than wider.

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Distribution and Population

In the past, the Pink Sand-verbena was found at various sites along the Pacific coast from southwestern British Columbia to northern California. Before 1927, the Pink Sand-verbena was known in Canada only at Bamfield (on the shore of Pachena Bay) and at Ahousat (near Tofino, off the central-west coast of Vancouver Island.) The species was last observed in 2001, at a single location, namely Clo-oose Bay south of Tofino. Population counts have been conducted for this species on the beach at Clo-oose Bay only, because there is not enough precise information on the geographic positions of its two other historic sites for the earlier populations to be located. The two plants identified on the beach at Clo-oose Bay in 2000 and the three observed at the same location in 2001 were swept away by storm waves in October at the end of the growing season. No specimens appeared in 2002 or 2003. It is believed that the number of seeds that germinate on this beach over the course of the season is rarely high because of the unfavourable conditions.

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Habitat

The Pink Sand-verbena is found only on upper sand beaches, just below the driftwood zone, along exposed coastlines. Few plants survive from one growing season to the next in this ephemeral habitat, which is scoured by high tides and winter storms. In the past, the Pink Sand-verbena has been observed on only three beaches, but other beaches might provide habitat for this species, since they support or have previously supported Abronia latifolia, whose requirements are similar to those of the Pink Sand-verbena. It should be noted, however, that sand beaches and sand dunes are relatively scarce along the coast of British Columbia.

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Biology

The Pink Sand-verbena uses sexual reproduction only, propagating by means of seeds. Seed production in this species appears to be good, and most of the achenes contain viable seeds. However, the germination rates are low in the natural habitat, because the achenes’ protective envelope must be abraded by sand grains for the seeds to germinate. In the short term, the survival of the Pink Sand-verbena appears precarious because of the ephemeral nature of its habitat, which is regularly subjected to wave action. In the long term, its chances of survival are slightly better, thanks to the very tough envelope of its fruits. The sporadic appearance of this species in British Columbia means either that its seeds persist for a long time in this environment, or that they are coming from the neighbouring population in Oregon, in the United States. Local scattering of seeds is probably encouraged by the wind, which carries the winged fruits around the driftwood zone.

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Threats

The main factor threatening the survival of the Pink Sand-verbena in British Columbia is the introduction of Ammophila arenaria and A. breviligulata, two fast-growing beachgrasses that have already invaded a large part of the habitat suitable for the Pink Sand-verbena. Because of its extensive network of underground stems and roots, A. arenaria is hard to eradicate. These Ammophila transform their habitat to the point that any possibility of colonization by the Pink Sand-verbena is eliminated. Heavy waves also pose a major threat for the Pink Sand-verbena. The sand beaches where this species grows are often scoured by waves during high tides and winter storms, so that few plants survive from one growing season to the next. There is also a small risk that the populations of Pink Sand-verbena will be trampled by people walking on the beaches that may support them.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Pink Sand-verbena 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.

The Pink Sand-verbena is not protected by any provincial laws in British Columbia. However, if the species were to reappear on the beach of Clo-oose Bay, which is located in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the protection afforded by the Canada National Parks Act would apply.

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 the Pink Sand-verbena (Abronia umbellata) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Recovery Team

Pink sand-verbena Recovery Team

  • Ross Vennesland - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
    Phone: 604-666-4648  Fax: 604-666-7957  Send Email

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Recovery Progress and Activities

Summary of Progress to Date The Pink Sand-verbena was considered extinct in Canada until it was rediscovered on a beach along BC’s West Coast Trail in 2000; it also was seen at the same location the following year. Immediate recovery actions and habit restoration are essential for the survival of this species. Unfortunately little is known about this species. Detailed research and monitoring is needed to gain a stronger understanding of the species and its habitat requirements. Recovery planning is underway and a recovery strategy has been drafted. Summary of Research/Monitoring Activities The location of rediscovery has been surveyed regularly; however, individuals have not been seen since 2001. It is believed that the species may still be present as dormant seeds at this site. The single known Canadian location has been monitored annually since 1999. Summary of Recovery Activities Pink Sand-verbena seeds were collected from plants in 2001 and were set aside for conservation and as a source for experimental study. URLs Parks Canada – Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada:http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/pacificrim/natcul/natcul2d_e.asp

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.

13 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the pink sand-verbena Abronia unbellata in Canada (2004-05-01)

    Pink sand-verbena, Abronia unbellata, is a member of a genus of 25 species of western North America. Two species occur in British Columbia and three in Canada. Abronia umbellata is represented by a single subspecies (ssp. breviflora) in Canada. The typical subspecies (ssp. umbellata) is found only in California. Abronia umbellata is a perennial herb from a thick, deep taproot. The Canadian plants have trailing stems up to 1.5 m long with short branches and opposite, thick, fleshy, densely glandular leaves. The leaves are lanceolate to narrowly egg-shaped, 2-6 cm long, 0.8-3.5 cm wide with stalks 2.5-7 cm long. The many-flowered, rounded heads occur on stout, 2-4 cm stalks. The flowers consist of a 6-8 mm long, greenish to pinkish perianth tubes that flare into pink, 5-lobed limbs 5-6 mm wide. The fruits consist of 10-12 mm achenes, which are prominently 3- or 4-winged. The wings of the achenes are wider than the achenes. Each achene has a single, brown seed approximately 1.5 mm wide and 3 mm long.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Pink Sand-verbena (2004-10-22)

    An herb of maritime beach habitats last seen at a single site along the west coast of Vancouver Island with losses of two historic populations. The site of the last documented population is greatly disjunct from other small populations in Oregon. The species is found, characteristically, in low numbers and tends to persist in the seed-bed of its beach and foredune habitats, sporadically producing flowering plants. The species was last recorded in 2001 with only several plants present. It is assumed that the species may still persist as dormant seeds and may produce reproductive plants at some future date. The expansion of exotic beach grasses has reduced the quality and availability of its upper beach and foredune habitats at a number of sites within its historic range.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Pink Sand-verbena (Abronia umbellata) in Canada (2007-02-14)

    Pink Sand-verbena was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as an endangered species in Canada in May 2004 and added to Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act in July 2005. It is an endemic species of the central west coast of North America and has been designated a species of Special Concern in the U.S. Its current Canadian range consists of a single population in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It has not been seen there since 2001, despite annual surveys at the precise location where it was last observed. The most serious threat it faces is a high probability of demographic collapse, since the population has never been large and is either extirpated or now consists of buried seeds. Recreational activities associated with the West Coast Trail, winter storms which rework sandy beaches in the upper foreshore environments where it grows and increased log deposition also threaten the population. Invasive grasses, which have colonized other beaches in the area, present an impending threat.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada (2017-08-24)

    Backed by the Insular Mountain Range of Vancouver Island and facing the open Pacific Ocean, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada (Pacific Rim NPR) protects and presents the rich natural and cultural heritage of Canada's west coast. Pacific Rim NPR consists of three distinct units, the Long Beach Unit, Broken Group Islands Unit, and West Coast Trail Unit, each offering a range of unique visitor experiences. With significant areas (51,216 ha in total) of old growth, temperate rainforest, coastal dune systems, wetlands and foreshore, and marine habitats, the park demonstrates the interconnectedness between land, sea, and people. These natural wonders are interwoven with the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations culture (past and present), and that of European explorers and settlers.

Critical Habitat Statements

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2004-10-19)

    The Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of wildlife species done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 139, number 15, 2005) (2005-07-27)

    The Minister of the Environment is recommending, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), that 43 species be added to Schedule 1, the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. This recommendation is based on scientific assessments by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and on consultations with governments, Aboriginal peoples, wildlife management boards, stakeholders and the Canadian public.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2004 (2004-09-16)

    2004 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Permits and Related Agreements

  • Explanation for issuing permit(#PRN-2008-1588), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2008-06-01)

    Pink Sand-verbana was historically known from 3 locations in Canada (Fairbarns et al. 2007). At Clo-oose Bay in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the species was last observed in 2001. At the other two sites, the species has not been seen in decades. Although some seeds may still occur at Clo-oose Bay, no plants have germinated since 2001 so the species is now apparently extirpated from the country. In 2001, some seeds were collected at the site, and this seed stock has since been used to generate seedlings for translocating back to the site. This translocation project has 3 main components: 1) the site is currently covered with too many beach logs, so will be restored so that sufficient space is available for plant translocation (logs will be chainsawed and removed); 2) Pink Sand-verbena seedlings (from local seed stock) will be translocated from the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria to the site and planted 3) seeds of Pink Sand-verbena, collected from nursery-grown plants derived from local seed stock will be sown into separate study plots; 4) seedlings of Yellow Sand-verbena (from local seed stock) will be translocated from the Canadian Forest Service in Victoria to the site and planted; 5) the planting and sowing sites will be protected by temporary fencing and the plants will be watered as required to ensure they remain vigorous; 6) plants will be monitored for a minimum of 2 years (or until they become established), with further seedlings translocated as required. Project is recommended in the Recovery Strategy for Pink Sand-verbena in Canada (Fairbarns et al. 2007), as prepared under the Species at Risk Act. Fairbarns, M.D., C. Webb, L.K. Blight, N. Page, B. Costanzo, T. Kaye, T. Lea and J. McIntosh.2007. Recovery Strategy for the Pink Sand-verbena (Abronia umbellata) in Canada (Final). Speciesat Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Parks Canada Agency. Ottawa. v + 21 pp.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#PRN-2009-2874), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2009-06-01)

    The structure of the dunes in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is unnatural, caused by the stabilizing nature of dune grass and encroaching trees. Historically, Pacific coast dunes have been more open, dynamic, and shifting. Dune grass, and encroaching spruce trees will be removed and native flora will be re-introduced, including a priority species at risk, Pink Sand-verbena (Abronia Umbellata). The dunes also provide potential habitat for two rare moths and nigh time surveys for Sand Verbena Moth (Copablephaon fuscum) and Edward's Beach Moth (Anarta edwardsii) using light traps will be conducted.
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#PRN-2016-23157), persuant to the provisions of section 74 of SARA (2016-10-01)

    To assess the current genetic diversity of Pink Sand-verbena populations, leaves and seeds will be collected from Pink Sand-verbena plants in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. A total of 10 seeds from 25 plants will be collected from each population in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. This activity will ensure that sufficient genetic integrity and diversity is maintained within extant Pink Sand-verbena populations.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: November 2004 (2004-11-23)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
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