Yreka Phlox

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Yreka Phlox

Phlox hirsuta

ListedFebruary 3, 2000
FamilyPolemoniaceae (Phlox)
DescriptionA perennial, flowering subshrub.
HabitatSerpentine meadows.
ThreatsHabitat loss to urbanization, and disturbance by roadbuilding and maintenance activities.


The Yreka phlox is a perennial subshrub that grows 2-6 in (5-15 cm) tall from a stout, woody base. It has lance-shaped, hairy leaves that are 0.6-1.2 in (1.5-3.0 cm) long and 0.2-0.3 in (4-7 mm) wide. Its flowers have pink to purple petals, 0.5-0.6 in (12-15 mm) long and smooth-margined at the tip.


The Yreka phlox grows on serpentine slopes. Serpentine-derived soils are toxic to most plants because of the presence of high concentrations of nickel and cobalt, an imbalance of the nutrients calcium and magnesium, and for other reasons. However, the Yreka phlox can tolerate these physiological stresses. It occurs at elevations from 2,800-4,400 ft (880-1,340 m). It occurs in association with Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi ), incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens ), and junipers (Juniperus spp.).


The Yreka phlox is a local (or endemic) species that only occurs in the vicinity of the City of Yreka, in Siskiyou County, California.


The Yreka phlox is only known from three locations, of which two survive. One of the surviving habitats is an open ridge in a juniper woodland within the city limits of Yreka. The habitat is about 37-90 acres (15-36 hectares) in area. The second site is about 5-6 mi (8-10 km) southwest of Yreka in an open Jeffrey pine forest, and has about 160 acres (65 hectares) of occupied habitat. Another site, in the vicinity of Mill Creek near Etna Mills, has been destroyed. Threats to the rare phlox include habitat damage through urban development of the city of Yreka, as well as road-building and maintenance activities. Because of its small population size and limited habitat, the rare plant is also threatened by catastrophic disturbances, such as an event of extreme weather or a wildfire.

Conservation and Recovery

Land ownership of the two surviving habitats of the Yreka phlox is a mixture of private, municipal (the City of Yreka), and Forest Service lands (Klamath National Forest). The City of Yreka owns the largest, most important area of habitat. Conservation of this rare plant requires that its critical habitat be set aside as an ecological reserve, or that conservation easements be negotiated. Research is needed into the biology of the phlox, and of the environmental factors limiting its population spread.


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

U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Sacramento Fish &
Wildlife Office
2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605
Sacramento, California 95825-1846
Telephone: (916) 414-6600
Fax: (916) 460-4619


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 3 February 2000. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Determination of Endangered Status for the Plant Yreka Phlox from Siskiyou County, CA." Federal Register 65 (23):5268-5275.