Chlorogalum purpureum - Brandeg.
Purple Amole
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Chlorogalum purpureum Brandeg. (TSN 42900)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.129360
Element Code: PMLIL0G050
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Lily Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Liliales Liliaceae Chlorogalum
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Chlorogalum purpureum
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 12Sep2011
Global Status Last Changed: 12Sep2011
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Endemic to California, Chlorogalum purpureum known from approximately 15 extant occurrences. The two occurrences of C. purpureum var. reductum appear to be under greater threat than those of C. purpureum var. purpureum. Threats include cattle grazing on the Los Padres National Forest, illegal trespass by motorcycles, displacement by non-native annual grasses, and wildfire.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
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United States California (SNR)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (20Mar2000)
Comments on USESA: The two varieties of Chlorogalum purpureum (var. reductum and var. purpureum) were originally each designated as candidates for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (up until the Sept. 1997 Notice of Review), but the March 1998 notice proposed the entire species for listing as threatened (with that status applying to the two varieties). Chlorogalum purpureum was determined threatened by the USFWS on March 20, 2000.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R8 - California-Nevada

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: From USFWS (2008): Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum is endemic to the Santa Lucia Range of Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, California, and is known from two properties: several localities on Fort Hunter Liggett, southern Monterey County; and one locality on Camp Roberts in northern San Luis Obispo County. A distance of approximately 31 km (19 miles) separates the locality on Camp Roberts from the nearest locality on Fort Hunter Liggett (Holland 2004). Chlorogalum purpureum var. reductum is endemic to the La Panza Range in central San Luis Obispo County. The taxon is known only from a small geographic area. The main population is approximately 0.8 km (0.5 mile) east of the southern end of Camatta Canyon. It occurs approximately 61 km (38 miles) southeast of the population of C. purpureum var. purpureum on Camp Roberts and 92 km (57 miles) southeast of the nearest site on Fort Hunter Liggett. One site for C. purpureum var. reductum is at the intersection of State Highway 58 and Red Hill Road which comprises 3 ha (7.5 ac) of land south of the highway and probably less north of the highway. Most of this site is in the Los Padres National Forest; the site continues on either side of State Highway 58 within a right-of-way of the California Department of Transportation, and then northward and also likely southward onto private lands. The second site is approximately 6.5 km (4 miles) south of the first and comprises approximately 0.1 ha (0.25 ac) of private land.

Area of Occupancy: 3-125 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Approximately 17 4-sq km grid cells (EO data in the NatureServe central database as of July 2011). Overall, C. purpureum var. purpureum accounts for approximately 90% of all known occurrences (i.e., area of occupied habitat) of the species: C. purpureum var. purpureum, approximately 486 ha (1,201 ac); C. purpureum var. reductum, approximately 52 ha (129 ac) (USFWS 2008).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: C. purpureum var. purpureum is known from 13 occurrences in Monterey County (Fort Hunter Liggett Military Reservation) and 1 occurrence San Luis Obispo County (Camp Roberts Military Reservation); C. purpureum var. reductum is known from 2 occurrences in San Luis Obispo County (EO data in the NatureServe central database as of July 2011).
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Population Size Comments: From USFWS (2008): At the time of listing, only three localities for C. purpureum var. purpureum were known, all on Fort Hunter Liggett. One locality contained scattered patches of the plant, with estimates suggesting several thousand individuals. The second locality contained at least 400 to 500 plants and possibly several thousand. The third locality contained an estimated 10,000 plants. In 2000, the population at Camp Roberts was estimated to comprise 10,000 individuals. However in 2001, this population was intensively censused and mapped, which resulted in the documentation of over 250,000 plants on approximately 87 ha (215 ac).

Various agencies have provided different population estimates for C. purpureum var. reductum. In 1996, the population in the Los Padres National Forest was estimated to contain tens of thousands of individuals. Although they have not conducted a survey, the U.S. Forest Service believes the population likely comprises thousands of individuals and not tens of thousands. However, one EO record reports approximately 500,000 plants at the site in 1991. As many as 100,000 plants may exist, with most of these plants on approximately 2 to 3 ha (5 to 7 ac) of land. However, EO records state that the location comprises 51 ha (127 ac).

In 2005, 306 C. purpureum var. reductum plants were recorded on the right-of-way along State Highway 58, and most of these were in two locations: approximately 62 m (203 feet) west of the junction with Red Hill Road, 194 plants; and approximately 1.4 km (0.9 mi) east of the junction with Red Hill Road, 100 plants. The area occupied is estimated to be 0.5 ha (1.3 ac). In 2001, 299 plants were recorded in the location west of the junction with Red Hill Road.

The area on private land approximately 6.5 km (4 mi) south of State Highway 58 that is known to be occupied by the Camatta Canyon amole comprises less than 0.1 ha (0.2 ac). The California Native Plant Society in 2007 estimated that "perhaps several hundred plants" occupy the site. Although plants were observed to occur sporadically on private land north of the highway right-of-way along State Highway 58, no estimate could be made. The taxon likely occurs sporadically also on private land south of the State Highway 58 right-of-way.

Viability/Integrity Comments: The 13 extant C. purpureum var. purpureum occurrences are ranked as good but only one has been surveyed since 1999; Both C. purpureum var. reductum occurrences (last surveyed in 2005) are ranked good or better (EO data in the NatureServe central database as of July 2011).

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Chlorogalum purpureum var. reductum is threatened by cattle grazing, illegal trespass by motorcycles, displacement by non-native annual grasses, and wildfire (USFWS 2008). Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum is also threatened by non-native annual grasses, and wildfire; however, grazing and military activites are not currently impacting Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum (USFWS 2008). Other threats include habitat fragmentation, habitat conversion, foot traffic, and road maintenance(CNPS 2011).

From USFWS (2008): Non-native annual grasses and other invasive plant species continue to be a threat to both taxa. Invasive plant species may displace the Chlorogalum purpureum by outcompeting and monopolizing limited resources (growing space, sunlight, soil nutrients, water), with the potential effects of preventing growth and recruitment, and may also alter characteristics of the fire regime, such as frequency, intensity, and seasonality of fires. Because of the clumped and limited distribution of the plants in a semiarid environment, a wildfire could destroy a substantial portion of the population. The frequency of fires in California is increasing (Syphard et al. 2007), and fires at certain times of the year have the ability to prevent annual reproductive success of Chlorogalum purpureum plants which are susceptible to damage by fire when the living structures, including the seeds, are above ground or near the soil surface. However, fires at certain times of the year may potentially benefit the plants by removing other competitive plants.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: From USFWS (2008): In 2007, the U.S. Army considered the status of C. purpureum var. purpureum on Fort Hunter Liggett to be stable to increasing. This determination was based upon the following: (1) the U.S. Army examined the past several years of monitoring data, and the population appeared to be stable through time, with expected fluctuations between years; and (2) at one particular site in an area near but outside where the purple amole was known to occur, the U.S. Army used a ball-and-chain to reduce heavy fuel accumulations in chemise chaparral. This particular site, which comprises approximately 78 ha (191 ac), now likely has the densest population of purple amole on Fort Hunter Liggett. Plants have been observed to recover from other disturbances, including fire. The population at Camp Roberts is also believed to be stable. Data there suggest that plants respond favorably to controlled burns during certain times of the year. Based upon general observations, the California Department of Fish Game has not observed C. purpureum var. reductum to be decreasing over the past ten years. However, it remains threatened because the known occurrences are restricted to a small geographic area and because of threats on U.S. Forest Service lands, including grazing, vehicle trespass and displacement by invasive non-native grasses.

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: Likely had a much greater geographic distribution historically (USFWS 2008).

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Somewhat fragile since it is a bulb which may not come up every year, therefore exposing its habitat to disturbance (Bittman 1998).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: From USFWS (2008): Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum is endemic to the Santa Lucia Range of Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, California, and is known from two properties: several localities on Fort Hunter Liggett, southern Monterey County; and one locality on Camp Roberts in northern San Luis Obispo County. A distance of approximately 31 km (19 miles) separates the locality on Camp Roberts from the nearest locality on Fort Hunter Liggett (Holland 2004). Chlorogalum purpureum var. reductum is endemic to the La Panza Range in central San Luis Obispo County. The taxon is known only from a small geographic area. The main population is approximately 0.8 km (0.5 mile) east of the southern end of Camatta Canyon. It occurs approximately 61 km (38 miles) southeast of the population of C. purpureum var. purpureum on Camp Roberts and 92 km (57 miles) southeast of the nearest site on Fort Hunter Liggett. One site for C. purpureum var. reductum is at the intersection of State Highway 58 and Red Hill Road which comprises 3 ha (7.5 ac) of land south of the highway and probably less north of the highway. Most of this site is in the Los Padres National Forest; the site continues on either side of State Highway 58 within a right-of-way of the California Department of Transportation, and then northward and also likely southward onto private lands. The second site is approximately 6.5 km (4 miles) south of the first and comprises approximately 0.1 ha (0.25 ac) of private land.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA Monterey (06053), San Luis Obispo (06079)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
18 Estrella (18060004)+, Salinas (18060005)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Perennial herb with 3-7 basal spreading leaves; bulbiferous; a widely branching naked stem supports 7-30 bluish-purple flowers with six recurved petals.
General Description: From FWS (2008): Chlorogalum purpureum is a perennial lily with a basal cluster of bright green leaves, which are elongate, with a wavy margin, and with a thickened midrib (USFWS 2002, Holland 2004, Guretzky et al. 2005). The basal leaves typically range from 1 to 8 in number (Woodbury 2005b), but as many as 14 have been recorded (Guretzky et al. 2005), with a width of 2 to 5 mm (0.1 to 0.2 inch). The bulb is ovoid, 2.5 to 3.0 cm (0.98 to 1.2 inches) long, white to brown in color, and occurs in the upper few inches of soil (USFWS 2002, Holland 2004). The flower cluster is borne on a single stem with multiple branches. The flowers are deep blue or purple with bright yellow anthers. The fruits are capsules, each with three chambers containing one or two black, ovoid seeds.

Chlorogalum purpureum var. reductum seems to be identical to Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum except for its compact, dwarf habit of growth. The two are generally distinct in their extreme forms, but may intergrade (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2002a).

Technical Description: From Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2002a): Bulbs 2.5-3 cm, tunic white to brown, with membranous scales. Leaves 1 cm 2-5 mm, margins undulate. Panicles* 1-4 dm, branches few. Flowers diurnal, occurring singly along inflorescence axis; tepals recurved, deep blue to purple, subrotate, 5-7 mm; stamens ca. equal to tepals; anthers yellow, 1 mm; pollen yellow; style exserted, especially in old flowers, 5-6 mm; pedicel slender, 4-10 mm, typically longer than perianth. Capsules 3 mm.

*Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum with panicles 2.5-4 dm. 5b. Chlorogalum purpureum var. reductum with panicles 1-2 dm.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Narrow, wavy 1-8(14) bright green basal leaves with thick midribs. There are usually one to eight leaves. Widely spaced blue or purple flowers on naked stem with long stamens with yellow anthers around a protruding style.
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Barrens, Forest/Woodland, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Cismontane woodland, valley and foothill grassland, and chaparral, between 205 and 630 m elevation (CNPS 2011). Both varieties have been reported to grow in association with cryptogamic crusts (USFWS 2008). All locations for C. purpureum var. purpureum and C. purpureum var. reductum are in semiarid environments and have a Mediterranean climate with summers that are hot and dry, and winters that are cool and wet (USFWS 2008).

From USFWS (2008): On Fort Hunter Liggett, there are hundreds of discontinuous patches of C. purpureum var. purpureum in grassland, oak savanna, and oak woodland communities where other vegetation is sparse. They occur in association with both deep and relatively thin soils. Most of the soils are loamy, underlain by clay, and with fine gravel generally less than 0.5 cm (0.2 inch) in diameter on the surface. Most sites have flat topography or slopes of less than 10%. A few populations occur along ridgetop terraces (USFWS 2008). C. purpureum var. reductum in the Los Padres National Forest grows in open areas on a ridgetop in blue oak savanna and annual grassland, and in open areas in grassland and woodland. Most reports state that C. purpureum var. reductum grows in serpentine soil. However, the USFWS (2002) reports it to grow in "well-drained red clay soils" with a large amount of gravel and pebbles. The soil has also been described as a supermature lateritic (not serpentine as in Munz or Miocene redbeds of others) with very little nutrient value, hard and red when dry. In sum, the soil type for C. purpureum var. reductum is not serpentine.

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: If it hasn't done so already, the U.S. Army should complete its endangered species management plan for the purple amole on Fort Hunter Liggett and actively manage known occurrences, including conducting controlled burns to remove invasive plants, removing feral pigs, and using the ball-and-chain method to remove competing plants in potential habitat (USFWS 2008).

The California Army National Guard should update its draft Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan for Camp Roberts and consult with the USFWS regarding it and the ongoing activities that may affect the occurrences there, including conducting controlled burns to remove invasive plants, allowing controlled grazing by goats or sheep to remove invasive plants, and the removal of feral pigs (USFWS 2008).

The USFS has prepared a new land management plan for the Los Padres National Forest. In it, they established the Camatta/Red Hill Road Special Interest Area, with a stated desire to eliminate adverse effects to the vegetation from illegal vehicle trespass and cattle grazing. The effectiveness of any implemented measures should be monitored and then adaptive management actions taken (USFWS 2008).

Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 14Sep2011
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: D. Gries, rev. R. Bittman (7/98), rev. M.J. Russo (5/11), rev. A. Tomaino (2011)
Management Information Edition Date: 14Sep2011
Management Information Edition Author: Tomaino, A.

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • California Department of Fish and Game. 2000. Natural Diversity Database (RareFind 2), Version 2.1.2, January 25, 2000. Downloaded in 2003.

  • California Native Plant Society (CNPS). 2001. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (sixth edition). Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee, David P. Tibor, Convening Editor. California Native Plant Society. Sacramento, CA. x + 388pp.

  • California Native Plant Society (CNPS). 2011. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants. California Native Plant Society. Sacramento, CA. Online. Available: http://www.cnps.org/inventory (accessed 2011).

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2002a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 26. Magnoliophyta: Liliidae: Liliales and Orchidales. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxvi + 723 pp.

  • Guretzky, J.A., E.R. Clark, and D. Woodbury. 2005. Life history traits of the threatened purple amole (Chlorogalum purpureum var. purpureum). Prepared for Fort Hunter Liggett by the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Champaign, IL.

  • Holland, R.F. 2004. Current knowledge and conservation status of Chlorogalum purpureum Brandegee var. purpureum, the purple amole, in California. Prepared for the California Army National Guard, Camp Roberts. Auburn, CA.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Skinner, M.W., and B.M. Pavlik, eds. 1997 (1994). Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 1997 Electronic Inventory Update of 1994 5th edition, California Native Plant Society, Special Publication No. 1, Sacramento.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1995. Category and Listing Priority Form.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2002. Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; final designation of critical habitat for Chlorogalum purpureum, a plant from the south coast ranges of California. Federal Register 67(206):65414-65445.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2008. Purple Amole (Chlorogalum purpureum) Five-year Review: Summary and Evaluation. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ventura, CA. 33 pp. [http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/five_year_review/doc1996.pdf]

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