Threatened and Endangered Species Spalding's Campion
Threatened and Endangered Species: Spalding's Campion Silene spaldingii Fact
OFFICIAL STATUS: Threatened - Montana.
Threatened species are species that are likely to become endangered within the
foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
LISTED: 66 Federal Register 51597, October 2001.
HISTORICAL STATUS: Spalding’s campion was once found throughout the Palouse
prairie and canyon grasslands of the Pacific Northwest bunchgrass habitat type
in southeastern Washington, northwestern Montana, adjacent portions of Idaho and
Oregon, and British Columbia.
PRESENT STATUS: There are currently 99 known populations of Spalding’s
campion in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada. Of
the known populations, 66 have fewer than 100 individuals each, 23 have 100 or
more individual each, and the 10 largest populations are each made up of more
than 500 plants. In Montana, populations have been located in the intermountain
valleys of Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties.
HABITAT: This plant is primarily found in mesic (not extremely wet nor
extremely dry) Pacific bunchgrass prairie dominated by native perennial grasses
such as Idaho and rough fescue. Other associated plant species include bluebunch
wheatgrass, prairie junegrass, snowberry, Nootka rose, yarrow, prairie smoke,
sticky geranium, and arrowleaf balsamroot. This vegetation type occurs on the
rolling Palouse prairie and in steep, dissected canyon grasslands. The elevation
range is between 1,500 and 5,100 feet.
LIFE HISTORY: Silene spaldingii is a long-lived, perennial forb. Reproduction
is by seed only; the plant has no rhizomes, stolons, or other means of
vegetative reproduction. Flowering occurs during July and early August.
AID TO IDENTIFICATION: Spalding’s campion is a perennial forb with a simple
or branched rootcrown. Stems are 8-24 inches tall with 4-7 pairs of opposite,
sessile leaves that are about 2-3 inches long below and gradually reduced in
size upward. The nodes (points of leaf attachment to the stem) are somewhat
swollen, as is characteristic of the carnation, or pink, family. The leaves and
stems are covered with long, sticky hairs. The sticky, tubular calyx is about
1-5/8 inches long and has 10 nerves on its surface. The corolla has 5 separate,
white petals, each composed of a narrow claw that is expanded into a broadened
blade above. Only the entire or shallowly-lobed blade with 4 tiny wings at the
base protrudes beyond the mouth of the calyx.
REASONS FOR DECLINE: Spalding’s campion is threatened by habitat destruction
and fragmentation resulting from agricultural and urban development, grazing and
trampling by livestock and native herbivores, herbicide treatment and drift, and
competition from non-native plants. Over 98 percent of the Palouse prairie
habitat has been impacted by agricultural conversion, grazing, weed invasion,
altered fire regimes and urbanization. Canyon grasslands habitat has been
primarily degraded by weed invasion and grazing practices.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Contact an NRCS biologist prior to implementing any
activities which could impact Silene spaldingii habitat.
COMMENTS: Certain grazing practices and prescribed fire may benefit
Spalding’s campion by enhancing seedling establishment through removal of
excessive litter. Avoidance of grazing during the flowering period or,
preferably, during the Silene spaldingii growing season, will reduce threats to
REFERENCES: Listed on the
Montana Natural Heritage Program web site.
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