Suaeda californica

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Suaeda californica

Critically Imperiled (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Suaedoideae
Genus: Suaeda
Species: S. californica
Binomial name
Suaeda californica

Suaeda americana
Suaeda depressa
Suaeda minutiflora

Suaeda californica is a rare species of flowering plant in the amaranth family known by the common name California seablite.[1] It is endemic to San Luis Obispo County, California, where it is known from a few occurrences in the marshes around Morro Bay.[2]


Suaeda californica is a mound-shaped shrub up to 80 centimeters tall with hairless or slightly hairy succulent green or red-tinged herbage. The woody stems have many branches which are covered with the knoblike bases of old leaves. Between these grow the new leaves, which are lance-shaped and up to 3.5 centimeters long. The flowers occur between the leaves, all along the stems. Each cluster has 1 to 5 flowers and is accompanied by a leaflike bract. The calyx is a cone of fleshy, rounded sepals, and there are no petals. The fruit is an utricle that grows within the calyx.


This rare plant, Suaeda californica, grows in a restricted area within the intertidal zone of salt marshes.[3] It is threatened by anything that alters the hydrology of the area, such as changes in sedimentation, including dredging, erosion, and recreation.[2] It requires a porous substrate high in nitrogen, which may come from decaying plant matter and bird droppings.[4] Invasive plant species such as introduced ice plant threaten remaining occurrences and reintroductions.[4]

Endangered status[edit]

It once occurred around the San Francisco Bay, but any populations there are now extirpated.[2] It probably once grew along the Petaluma River north of the bay, as remains of the species have been found in adobe bricks there.[5] By 1991 the total remaining number of individuals was estimated to be below 500, and the plant was federally listed as an endangered species of the United States in 1994.[2][3] Some carefully tended populations have been planted as reintroductions at locations around the San Francisco Bay.[4][6]


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