Species Profile

White Meconella

Scientific Name: Meconella oregana
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: May 2005
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: A3c; B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)c(iv)+2ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v)c(iv); C1+2b
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: A globally threatened annual plant with a highly restricted Canadian range and area of occupancy present at only five locations within the naturally rare Garry Oak Ecosystem. Its populations, totalling fewer than 3,500 mature plants, fluctuate greatly with varying precipitation patterns and are at imminent risk of major losses from development within the highly urbanized range of the species. Its habitat has also been impacted by the spread of many exotic weedy plants.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Endangered in May 2005.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2006-08-15

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

Taxonomy

In Canada, Meconella oregana is the only representative of its genus, with no subspecies or varieties.

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Description

The White Meconella is a small annual herb, 1 to 8 cm tall in Canada. Blue-green in colour, it has a single erect stem or several stems growing from the base. The narrow, elongated, lance-shaped stem leaves are arranged on the stem in opposite pairs. Measuring 5 to 9 mm in length, these leaves are smaller than the spoon-shaped leaves that form a rosette at the base of the stem. Unlike the rosette leaves that have a short stalk, the stem leaves have none. Single white flowers are borne on long stalks growing from the tip of the stems or from the upper leaf axils. The flowers consist of six almost oval petals and three sepals. The fruit is a narrow, elongated capsule containing many tiny seeds. In the southwestern United States, two similar but slightly larger species are found: Meconella californica and Meconella denticulata, which were once considered subspecies of the White Meconella.

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Distribution and Population

The White Meconella is found sparsely in North America, from California to southwestern British Columbia. In the United States, its presence is limited to the states of Washington, Oregon and California. In Canada, it has been documented in low-lying coastal areas from Victoria to Nanaimo, in the Gulf Islands, and in Port Alberni. In 2004, the Canadian population consisted of 3355 plants occurring over a total surface area of 50 to 100 m². Regular observations of the White Meconella over the years are not available for either the United States or Canada. Of the 15 sites known to have populations in British Columbia, only 11 could be visited in 2004. The others were on a private island or at sites that had been too vaguely described to be located, so that only 5 of the 11 populations visited could actually be found. Additional data obtained for 2005 reveal that three of the four extant populations have suffered considerable declines since 2004. Though it is impossible to state with certainty that all extant populations have been located, the findings nonetheless give cause for serious concern, with the species currently showing overall decline in Canada.

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Habitat

The White Meconella is found only in open rocky or grassy areas that are wet in early spring but dry in the summer. In British Columbia, the plants grow on south-facing hillsides below 300 m in altitude. The shallow and arid soil found on these slopes prevents forestation, limiting the competition. In addition, these soils are subject to regular early-season seepage, which suits the species perfectly.

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Biology

The White Meconella blooms between early March and mid-April, depending on seasonal precipitation and temperature. After the plants set seed in early to late April, they dry up and die. Very little is known about the species’ reproductive biology. No insect pollination has been reported, but it is likely that wind pollination occurs. The White Meconella produces a fruit consisting of a capsule that opens at maturity and releases many seeds. Because of the plant’s small size, its tiny seeds and the lack of a mechanism that favours dispersion by the wind or by animals, the dispersion distance of new plants from the parent plant is likely very short. The life expectancy of the seeds is possibly very short since it has been noted that old seeds do not germinate very easily. Under experimental conditions in a greenhouse, germination was observed in fall and early spring. No herbivores have been observed feeding on these plants.

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Threats

The two major threats facing this species are habitat loss and habitat degradation. Loss of this species’ habitat occurs primarily through residential development of these attractive open hillsides overlooking the mountains and ocean. The two largest populations, which represent 75% of the Canadian total, are imminently threatened with such development as their habitat is found on private land. Habitat degradation occurs through recreational and other traffic, domestic grazing, disruption of seepage patterns, fire suppression and the increasing colonization by many exotic plant species. The habitat degradation by invasive species could be considered as dangerous as the simple destruction of its habitat, if not more so. An intrinsic limitation for the species may be its poor dispersal ability.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The White Meconella 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.

Based on 2004 counts, 11% of the plants that were part of the Canadian population were on protected land in a regional park near Victoria.

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 White Meconella (Meconella oregana) 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.

12 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the white meconella Meconella oregana in Canada (2005-05-01)

    Meconella oregana (white meconella) is a member of the poppy family (Papaveraceae) and the only species of the genus Meconella in Canada. It is a small annual herb, 2-16 cm tall with a slender taproot. Plants have either a single erect stem or stems that are sparingly branched near the base. The tiny, spoon-shaped leaves that form a rosette at the base of the plant are only 3-18 mm long, including their short stalks. The small stem leaves are opposite, lance-shaped to linear and lack stalks. Flowers are borne singly on long stalks at the end of the stems or from the upper leaf axils. Within the centre of the flower, consisting of six, white, egg-shaped petals and three sepals, are 4-6 stamens and a single pistil. The fruit is a linear capsule containing many tiny seeds less than 1 mm long. In the southwestern U.S. two other, slightly larger species occur (M. californica and M. denticulata) which were once described as subspecies of Meconella oregana.

Response Statements

  • Response Statements - White Meconella (2005-11-15)

    A globally threatened annual plant with a highly restricted Canadian range and area of occupancy present at only five locations within the naturally rare Garry Oak Ecosystem. Its populations, totalling fewer than 3,500 mature plants, fluctuate greatly with varying precipitation patterns and are at imminent risk of major losses from development within the highly urbanized range of the species. Its habitat has also been impacted by the spread of many exotic weedy plants.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the White Meconella (Meconella oregana) in Canada (2013-06-21)

    White Meconella (Meconella oregana) is a small, globally imperilled, annual plant found in isolated sites from southern Vancouver Island to central California. Within its range, it is restricted to vernal seeps with thin soils and short turf plant communities. There are only eight extant populations known from Canada, containing approximately 1,000 or fewer reproductive individuals in unfavourable years. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has assessed White Meconella as Endangered, and in September 2006, the species was listed as Endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA).

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005-08-12)

    2005 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(#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-2009-0106), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-05-04)

    This work will involve the removal of Scotch Broom and other invasive species from the proposed critical habitat areas of White Meconella and White-top Aster on the north West slope Of Observatory Hill. The work will be controlled and done under the Supervision of the Permit holder. The permit holder is a expert in the identification and the location of rare species on Observatory Hill and in particular in the area of the defined critical habitat. Invasive plant will be pulled where they do not disrupt the living area of at risk species and cut where any possible disruption is anticipated. The botanist will clearly flag no-go areas to control
  • Explanation for issuing permit(#SARA-PYR-2009-0124), persuant to the provisions of section 73 of SARA (2009-12-15)

    This work will involve the removal of Scotch Broom and other invasive species from the proposed critical habitat areas of Rigid Apple Moss, White Meconella and White-top Aster on the north West slope Of Observatory Hill. The work will be controlled and done under the Supervision of the Permit holder. The permit holder is a expert in the identification and the location of rare species on Observatory Hill and in particular in the area of the defined critical habitat. Invasive plant will be pulled where they do not disrupt the living area of at risk species and cut where any possible disruption is anticipated. The botanist will clearly flag no-go areas to control
  • 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.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: November 2005 (2005-11-16)

    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.

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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