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.
In Canada, Meconella oregana is the only representative of its genus, with no subspecies or varieties.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the White Meconella (Meconella oregana) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry
Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team
Conan Webb - Chair/Contact - Parks Canada
Phone: 250-478-5153 Send Email
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 (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- Orders (2 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Permits and Related Agreements (4 record(s) found.)
- Consultation Documents (1 record(s) found.)
- Exceptions (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
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.
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.