Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Regional endemic, northeastern Washington and northwestern Montana. Known in Washington from gravelly banks along the Columbia River from the confluence with the Spokane River north to near the Canadian border. Also known form similar habitat along the shores of Flthead Lake, Montana. It is believed that most populations in Washington were destroyed by construction of Grand Coulee Dam. However, populations along the Columbia River may still occur near the Canadian border. Until the mid 1980's only one or two populations were known from around Flathead Lake. Elisens identified Oxytropis populations along the North Folk of the Flathead River as O. columbiana (Peter Lesica's letter to D.R. Harm, 1992).
Comments: Gravel bars, stony lake or river shores.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Comments: Est. 9 EOs (ca. 6 in MT, 3 in WA), based in part on Elisens and Packer (1980).
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: T1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Only about 9 known populations, some of which are historical records; habitat threatened by man-made and natural forces.
Comments: Populations of Oxytropis campestris var. columbiana in Washington have, for the most part, been extirpated due to habitat destruction. There are probably fewer than 2,000 plants around Flathead Lake in Montana. A large amount of the gravelly shoreline has been converted to lawns or dock areas. This development is continuing. Part of the Dewey Bay population is immediately threatened by the Shelter Bay Estates development. Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) is present at many of the sites and probably threatenes these populations. The effects of lake water level regulation by Kerr Dam may also be detrimental to crazyweed populations that historically were probably most abundant in a zone created by yearly water level fluctuations. Although Columbia River crazyweed may be in the Flathead Lake area in the immediate future, the development pressure and the effects of lake level regulation make long-term survival tenuous (Peter Lesica's letter to D.R. Harm, 1992).
Biological Research Needs: Further taxonomic work, perhaps molecular genetics studies, is needed to confirm taxonomic status.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Columbia River crazyweed was first described as a species (Oxytropis columbiana) by Harold St. John from material collected in eastern Washington (St. John, H., 1928, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 41:100). Rupert Barneby later relegated these plants to varietal status (O. campestris var. columbiana) under the more widespread O. campestris (Barneby, R.C., 1952, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences 27:177-312). A recent study of this group conducted at the University of Alberta by Wayne Elisens re-elevetad Columbia River crazyweed to full species status (Elisens, W.J., and J.G. Packer 1977, Canadian Journal of Botany 58: 1820-1831). Although there was disagreement about what taxonomic rank to assign to this taxon, up to this time all the authorities agreed that it was worthy of recognition as a separate entity.
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