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Lompoc Yerba Santa

Lompoc Yerba Santa

Eriodictyon capitatum

Status Endangered
Listed March 20, 2000
Family Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf)
Description Shrub with sticky stems and lavender flowers.
Habitat Maritime chaparral.
Threats Fire suppression, competition and habitat loss.
Range California


The Lompoc yerba santa is a shrub with both sticky stems and leaves. Stems reach up to 10 ft (3 m) tall. Leaves are narrow and linear. The lavender flowers are 0.2-0.6 in (6 to 15 mm) long and are arranged in a head.

It can be distinguished from other related species by its narrow, entire leaves and the head-like inflorescence.

Two populations have been found to be uniclonal (a single plant composed of many stems produced by the vegetative spread of the root system). The majority of studied populations are multiclonal. Also, the Lompoc yerba santa is self-incompatible and will only produce seed if it receives pollen from genetically different plants.


The maritime chaparral where the Lompoc yerba santa occurs is composed of prehistoric uplifted dunes which formed a weakly cemented sandstone that weathered to produce a sandy, extremely well drained, and nearly infertile soil. The community of this habitat contains many rare plants. Associates include bush poppy, scrub oaks, and buck brush.

Intergrading with the chaparral habitat are the southern bishop pine forests, with species such as manzanita and black sage.


There are four known locations occurring in western Santa Barbara County, California. Two locations, composed of three population groups, are on Vandenberg Air Force Base. The other two locations are on private land in the oilfields at the western end of the Santa Ynez Mountains.


A majority of viable habitat has been converted to other land uses or degraded by weed invasion and habitat fragmentation. The central coast maritime chaparral ecosystem is considered threatened and sensitive by the California Department of Fish and Game's Natural Heritage Division. The associated bishop pine forest is also considered a threatened habitat type.

Populations on land owned by the military have been degraded as well. Destroyed missiles and explosives have started numerous brush fires near populations of Lompoc yerba santa. Uniclonal populations are self-incompatible, so little or no seed is expected after stems die, and fire has been known to negatively impact these populations.

Fires also allow for the invasion of aggressive non-native plants. The military is currently not managing for the non-native species when conducting prescribed burns. Iceplant and veldt grass have both followed fire into the chaparral habitat and have been displacing the Lompoc yerba santa.

Conservation and Recovery

The Vandenburg Air Force Base will be requried to consult with the U. S. Department of Fish and Wildlife on future projects affecting the Lompoc yerba santa. A recovery plan is being created and critical habitat designation has been deemed prudent. Designation will be discussed depending on the magnitude and immediacy of the threats.

The California Exotic Pest Plant Council has taken steps to identify non-native invasive plants that negatively impact the Lompoc yerba santa's habitat.


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

Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2493 Portola Road, Suite B
Ventura, California 93003-7726
Telephone: (805)644-1766
Fax: (805) 644-3958


United States Department of the Interior. 20 March 2000. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Final Rule for Endangered Status for Four Plants From South Central Coastal California." Federal Register 65 (54):14888-14898.

University of California, Berkeley. "Eriodictyon capitatum. CalFlora Database Project: a botanical resource for California on the internet. ( Accessed July 6, 2000.

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