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Threatened and Endangered Species Spalding's Campion Fact Sheet

Threatened and Endangered Species: Spalding's Campion Silene spaldingii Fact Sheet

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 this species.

REFERENCES: Listed on the Montana Natural Heritage Program web site.

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