Suaeda californica (Flowering Plants)
California seablite is a succulent-leaved perennial plant in the goosefoot (Chenopodiaceae) family. It was first described by science in 1874 based on a specimen collected in the salt marshes of the San Francisco Bay. For many years it was not considered a distinct species and therefore was also thought to have a fairly extensive range: from San Francisco Bay to Baja California. However, in the early 1980s taxonomists determined that the plants in Southern and Baja California previously described as being part of Suaeda californica were in fact separate species, Suaeda esteroa and Suaeda taxifolia. Moreover, it was determined that the only remaining populations of Suaeda californica were in Morro Bay: indeed, by the 1960s all of the plants in the San Francisco Bay region were destroyed as salt marsh habitats were filled and converted to other uses.
The California Seablite was protected as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1994. Although its colonial nature makes precise population counts difficult, it was estimated that there were only 500 individual plants remaining on the planet when the species was protected.
Fortunately, when proper habitat conditions are established, the species can survive quite well. Partial to the high-tide lines of salt marshes bordering sandy or shell beach areas, reintroductions have been successful on East Bay Regional Park District lands such as Eastshore State Park, and a recovery plan is being prepared for the species. Another successful reintroduction has occurred at Pier 94 in San Francisco.
Conservation Action Item
Restore Seablite habitat:
Expand restoration efforts at Crissy Field Marsh
In the Golden Gate National Parks, however, two plantings to reintroduce the species to the Crissy Field Marsh have both failed. This is probably due to excessive flooding of the marsh, which occurs because of the configuration of the marsh’s tidal inlet. If Crissy Field Marsh restoration is expanded and the tidal inlet is reconfigured, the Seablite could be successfully reintroduced to the Park. You can help make this a reality by partnering with the GGNRA and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to work on expanded Crissy Field Marsh restoration.
Big Year Competitors have reported 1 sighting and taken 0 actions to help this species recover so far this year.
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