Gentner's Fritillaria

views updated

Gentner's Fritillaria

Fritillaria gentneri

ListedDecember 10, 1999
FamilyLiliaceae (Lily)
DescriptionA perennial, herbaceous, flowering plant.
HabitatDry, open woodlands.
ThreatsHabitat loss.


Gentner's fritillaria, also known as the mission-bells fritillaria, is a perennial, herbaceous plant growing from a fleshy bulb. It has a robust stem 20-28 in (50-70 cm) tall. The stems and leaves have a bluish, waxy coating and are colored green, sometimes mottled with purple. The leaves are lance-shaped, 3-6 in (7-15 cm) long, 0.3-0.6 in (0.7-1.5 cm) wide at the base, and are often arranged in whorls of three or more. The flowers are solitary, or they occur in a raceme (or clusters) of up to five flowers, each on its own long pedicel (a supporting stalk). The corolla is campanulate (or bell-shaped), 1.4-1.6 in (3.5-4.0 cm) long, and colored reddish purple with pale yellow streaks. The style is deeply split over about half its length.

The flowers of Gentner's fritillaria are thought to be pollinated by insects. In any particular year, many of the plants are typically dormant (for up to several years) and do not produce above-ground stems and flowers. Gentner's fritillaria establishes new plants asexually by bulblets, and perhaps also by seedlings.


Gentner's fritillaria inhabits dry, open woodlands of fir or oak at elevations below about 4,450 ft (1,360 m).


Gentner's fritillaria is a locally evolved (or endemic) species that is found only in scattered localities in the Rogue and Illinois River drainages in Jackson and Josephine Counties, in southwestern Oregon. Its distribution is highly localized, occurring within a 30-mi (48-km) distance of Jacksonville Cemetery. A central cluster located within 7 mi (11 km) of the cemetery contains 73% of the known individuals of the rare plant. The remaining plants occur as single individuals or sporadic clusters.


Gentner's fritillaria is threatened by residential development, agricultural activities, logging, road and trail maintenance, off-road vehicle use, and collection for growing in gardens. Because of its small population size and limited range, it is also potentially threatened by catastrophes associated with events of extreme weather, wildfire, or other natural forces. Its population is only about 340 flowering plants (plus additional ones that are dormant). It is not known whether this represents a single, continuous population, or a number of isolated ones. Thirteen of the 53 known "macro-plots" (this is a population unit designated for the purposes of studying the rare plant) are on lands managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Two others are on a right-of-way managed by the Oregon State Department of Transportation, three are on land managed by Southern Oregon University, and seven are on land of the City of Jacksonville. The remaining 25 macro plots are on privately owned land. About eight of the 53 known macroplots have already been lost to development. Of the 45 surviving macroplots, only eight are in an area of 1 acre (0.4 hectare) or larger, and many are in areas smaller than 0.1 acre (0.04 hectare).

Conservation and Recovery

Under the Oregon Endangered Species Act, Gentner's fritillaria is protected on State-managed lands. However, private landowners are not required to protect State-listed species. Therefore, the only sites where the rare plant is officially protected is at the Log Town Cemetery, on a Department of Transportation right-of-way, on Southern Oregon University lands, and on land managed by the City of Jacksonville. In addition, the BLM manages lands occupied by Gentner's fritillaria, and the rare plant is given some protection there through a general conservation agreement that applies to all federally listed species. However, some ongoing activities on these BLM properties are known to threaten the rare plant. The greatest needs for the conservation of Gentner's fritillaria are to protect larger areas of its critical habitat, including the acquisition of privately owned lands or the negotiation of conservation easements. Its population status must be monitored, and research undertaken into its habitat needs and other environmental factors controlling its reproduction and abundance.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
Eastside Federal Complex
911 N. E. 11th Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97232-4181
(503) 231-6121

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office
2600 S. E. 98th Ave., Suite 100
Portland, Oregon 97266
(503) 231-6179


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 10 December 1999. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Endangered Status for the Plant Fritillaria gentneri (Gentner's fritillaria)." Federal Register 64 (237):69195-69203.