The San Jacinto Valley Crownscale Shows Off Its Crown in Western Riverside County
For most, the San Jacinto Valley crownscale will not be named “most beautiful plant” or draw crowds like other native plants. However, this unique plant has several features that would dazzle any botanist. The crownscale is a low-growing, grayish annual plant that requires seasonal flooding to rejuvenate and spread its seeds. The yearly population varies depending on rainfall and temperatures.
This plant is extraordinary because it requires highly alkaline, silty clay and silty loam soils to survive. The plant absorbs minerals from the soil, which can cause a glistening effect in sunlight. It’s required soils are restricted to the Mystic Lake, San Jacinto River, Salt Creek, and Alberhill areas, where this type of soil creates an ideal habitat for the crownscale. Even more extraordinary is that this plant is endemic to our San Jacinto, Perris, Menifee, and Elsinore Valley areas.
The crownscale flowers in April through August (just around the corner) and sets its fruit during this time. Fruit setting is the process of pollinated flowers forming into berries.
Habitat destruction and fragmentation from other crownscale populations are significant threats to this endangered species. Continued disturbances have reduced seasonal ponding and vernal pools that have historically formed along the San Jacinto River. This has resulted in declines of the San Jacinto Valley crownscale within key populations. Furthermore, the crownscale’s seeds are sometimes obscure and difficult to recognize during the year.
At least 6,900 acres of suitable habitat will be preserved for this endangered species in western Riverside County for through the preservation of lands described for conservation as part of the MSHCP preserve. RCA also monitors and helps with habitat restoration programs to ensure plants like the crownscale populations can recover.