San Francisco Lessingia
Lessingia germanorum (Flowering Plants)
The San Francisco Lessingia is an annual herb in the aster family. Like its fellow aster, the sunflower, the San Francisco Lessingia’s flower consists of hundreds of individual flowers, or florets, and is capable of producing several thousand seeds per plant. The plants have small, grayish leaves, a reddish brown stem, and small bright lemon-yellow flowers; plants bloom from July to November.
The San Francisco Lessingia once occurred throughout San Francisco’s vast dune system, where it grew in open sandy areas that were created and maintained by a combination of dune “blowouts,” elk grazing, fire, or drought.
The San Francisco Lessingia currently exists in only a few locations in San Francisco and Daly City, CA. Habitat loss, the adverse alteration of ecological processes by human development, and invasive species are the primary reasons that the species’ status is so dire. Individual plants can also be destroyed by improper levels of disturbance, such as digging by dogs or trampling by people.
The San Francisco Lessingia is so rare that random, catastrophic events could easily destroy most of the remaining individuals in a single blow. In recognition of this status, the San Francisco Lessingia was protected as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1997, after the late GGNP Superintendent Brian O’Neill petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the species.
The largest remaining colony of San Francisco Lessingia is located at Lobos Dunes, near Lobos Creek in the Presidio.This remains one of the best places to see the species in the Park; a great time to visit is during the bloom between July and November.
Conservation Action Item
Aid Lessingia recovery:
Monitor and restore Lessingia in Lobos Creek Valley
In 1985, the California Native Plant Society sounded conservation alarms when they reported that only 19 individual San Francisco Lessingias were counted at Lobos Creek that year. However by 1998, a year after the Lessingia was protected by the Endangered Species Act and restoration of Lobos Creek Valley was begun, monitoring showed that the number of Lessingia had increased to almost 1.5 million. Join us as we continue to document the recovery of San Francisco Lessingia in one of only two populations left in the world.
Big Year Competitors have reported 0 sightings and taken 0 actions to help this species recover so far this year.
- None scheduled
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