Species Profile

Rayless Goldfields

Scientific Name: Lasthenia glaberrima
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2008
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered


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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | Recovery Team | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Rayless Goldfields

Description

Rayless Goldfields is an annual herb. Its growth may be sprawling or erect. The stems, leaves and flowers are hairless. Adventitious roots may form from the lower nodes of the stems, which are sometimes branched. The leaves, which have no teeth or lobes, are 2 to 10 cm long and narrow. They grow opposite each other. The plant produces inconspicuous clusters of flowers that may easily be overlooked. Each “flower” is actually a bell-shaped flowering head consisting of numerous pale yellow flowers packed tightly on a cone-shaped base. The base of the head is surrounded by 5 to 10 bracts. The centre of the head, which resembles a daisy, is surrounded by 6 to 13 inconspicuous pale yellow flowers that look like threads. The seeds are enclosed in dry fruit (achenes). Each achene, which is narrow, slightly hairy, and less than 4 mm long, bears a cap (pappus) made of scales. Rayless Goldfields may be confused with brass buttons and fleshy jaumea. All three species form mats, have small yellow composite flowers, and may appear similar from a distance. However, brass buttons is easily distinguished by its leaves, which are often toothed and are arranged alternately round the stem, and fleshy jaumea can be distinguished by its thick, succulent leaves.

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Distribution and Population

The range of Rayless Goldfields extends from Vancouver Island to central California, mostly west of the Cascade Mountains. There is only one known population of the species in Canada, in East Sooke Regional Park, near Victoria, in southwestern British Columbia. The nearest population in the United States is approximately 300 km to the south, in Washington. Suitable sites have been surveyed repeatedly since the early 1980s as part of various projects to determine the distribution of rare plants growing in vernal pools and seepage sites on southeastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Despite these intensive surveys, the Canadian population was not discovered until 2003. Targeted surveys carried out in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 failed to discover any additional populations. In 2006, the sole Canadian population consisted of 21 mature individuals, compared to about 200 individuals in 2003, the year it was discovered. It is impossible to establish long-term trends for the population, but the most recent data (2003 to 2006) indicate a decrease in the size of the population. However, it is uncertain whether the data indicate a real decline or simply reflect a low point in a cycle. Species of Lasthenia are particularly prone to dramatic fluctuations in response to variations in annual rainfall and the duration of ponded water.

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Habitat

The British Columbia population is located in a vernal pool on a rocky bluff, about 15 m above sea level. The bottom of the vernal pool consists of a thin layer of medium-textured soil over bedrock. The site becomes moist with the first rains in late summer or early fall and remains saturated or inundated for most of the winter and early spring. The soil gradually dries out with the onset of summer drought and is very dry from mid-June to late August or early September. The amount of suitable habitat has decreased considerably since the early 20th century, as coastal areas on southeastern Vancouver Island are developed for residential and recreational use. Much of the available habitat that remains has been heavily altered by a number of invasive exotic species.

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Biology

Rayless Goldfields germinates between April and early May. This short-lived annual continues to grow until it succumbs to summer drought. Mortality normally occurs in late May or in June, and summer rainfall events appear to be too rare to trigger renewed vegetative growth, flowering or fruiting. Flowering begins in early May and peaks by mid-month. The flowers are fertilized by their own pollen. The seeds begin to disperse in mid-May, and most individuals shed all of their fruit by mid-June. The pappus is unlikely to aid in wind dispersal but probably helps the fruit become attached to the fur of passing mammals. Rayless Goldfields survives summer drought and winter cold as seed. However, as in some other Lasthenia species, all viable seed may germinate following a thorough watering and there is therefore no long-term seed bank.

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Threats

Trampling is one of the main threats to the survival of the sole Canadian population, which is close to a hiking trail. Footprints have been observed among the plants during the critical growing season in April and May, and 6 of the 20 individuals in the population were trampled in 2005. The Capital Regional District Parks Department erected a fence round the vernal pool in September 2005; this will probably reduce accidental damage but may also attract undesirable attention from some hikers. A number of exotic plant species have invaded existing and potential Rayless Goldfields habitat and therefore represent another major threat. Invasive exotic shrubs, such as Scotch broom, could root nearby and shade out the small patches of Rayless Goldfields. The destruction of the natural environment is the primary cause of habitat loss. Much of the potentially suitable shoreline in the Victoria region was developed before 2003, the year in which the species was first reported in Canada. The sole Canadian population is threatened simply by its small size and very small area of occurrence, both of which leave it vulnerable to chance events that would not pose a risk to larger or more extensive populations. Rayless Goldfields is dependent on winter and spring seepage. Any alteration of the hydrological regime that affects water availability and site characteristics may pose a threat to this rare plant.

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Rayless Goldfields 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.

Rayless Goldfields is not protected under any provincial legislation in British Columbia.

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 Rayless Goldfields (Lasthenia glaberrima) 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.

8 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Rayless Goldfields (Lasthenia glaberrima) in Canada (2008)

    Rayless goldfields (Lasthenia glaberrima) is a member of the aster family (asteraceae). It is a fibrous-rooted annual herb with sprawling to erect growth form with simple to freely branched and hairless shoots. The stems may form adventitious roots from their lower nodes. The leaves are oppositely arranged, 2-10 cm long, linear and lack hairs or teeth. The flowering structure consists of numerous flowering heads, each of which is bell-shaped and contains tightly packed flowers. The pale yellow flowers are inconspicuous and may be easily overlooked. The achenes (characteristic dry fruitlets of the aster family) are less than 4 mm long, linear and hairy. The species is morphologically quite variable and is self-pollinated, so there is a significant possibility of distinct genetic composition, particularly in isolated populations like the one in Canada.

COSEWIC Assessments

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Rayless Goldfields (2008)

    A single very small population of an annual flowering plant that is at continued risk from a number of limiting factors including the spread of exotic plants.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Rayless Goldfields (Lasthenia glaberrima) in Canada (2012)

    The Canadian population of the Rayless Goldfields (Lasthenia glaberrima) was assessed as Endangered in 2008 by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and in February 2010 the population was listed as Endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) affording it legal protection.

Orders

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2007 - 2008 (2008)

    2008 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species (2009)

    As part of its strategy for protecting wildlife species at risk, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Please submit your comments by March 20, 2009 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 19, 2010 for species undergoing extended consultations.