Habitat and Ecology
This plant is a perennial, but most individuals (possibly due to drought stress) have an annual life cycle. Like annual plants from colder climatic zones, these individuals die back after flowering and setting seed. The seeds then germinate around October. The hot and dry summer marks the end of this species flowering period rather than a cold winter. Other species from the genus Calendula are often grown as garden plants. This species has the potential to be developed for horticulture if the optimal culture conditions can be found.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
In addition, the species is very attractive and may be collected for its beautiful flowers. It is also threatened by competition with an alien invasive species, the iceplant or hottentot fig (Carpobrotus edulis), which grows in part of C. maritima’s habitat and competes aggressively with it.
Legally: No measures have been taken to protect the species itself.
In situ: Part of the area where this species occurs is situated in the Nature Reserves "Saline di Trapani e Paceco" and "Isole dello Stagnone di Marsala". Here, it is forbidden to collect seeds or any vegetative parts of the plant. These areas are effectively managed (by WWF and the Province of Trapani, respectively), guarded by rangers, and have been subject to scientific monitoring. Construction of roads or houses inside the reserves requires permission. These species-rich reserves are sustainably managed and economic activities such as salt extraction take place within them.
Ex situ: This species is included in the GENMEDOC project (an inter-regional network of Mediterranean seedbanks), and seeds are being collected in order to propagate this species. It should not be difficult to germinate seeds in cultivation, but may be more difficult to meet the peculiar habitat requirements (nitrogen-rich, sandy and salty soil) of this species.
This species should be added to Appendix I of the Bern Convention and Annexes II and IV of the EC Habitats Directive to give it protection by international law. A campaign to eradicate the invasive species Carpobrotus edulis in the region needs to be initiated. C. maritima's classical site needs to be protected by finding alternatives to the planned harbour expansion, limiting access to the site, and careful planning of any construction of new roads and buildings. Inventories need to be made over several years to monitor population trends.
Calendula maritima, known as the sea marigold and trailing calendula, is a very rare species from the family of Asteraceae. Some scientists regarded it as Calendula suffruticosa subspecies maritima.
This halophyte plant is endemic to the western part of Sicily in small coastal habitats, and is a critically endangered species.  As of 2012, this plant could still be found in only five small sites in East Sicily. The Province of Trapani has chosen the plant as its official symbol. The sea marigold occurs only on the Sicilian coast: on the island mainland between Marsala and the Monte Cofano; and on the two nearby islets Isola Grande dello Stagnone and Isola la Formica.  The most significant population is in a small 10-km2 (3.9-mi2) nature reserve area within the Riserva Naturale Saline di Trapani e Paceco.
This perennial plant reaches a height between 20 and 40 cm (7.9 and 15.7 in). The stems can be easily lignified on the underparts and the leaves are covered with short sticky hairs. The young stems are at first erect, but later they begin to hang and spread on the soil.
In contrast to Calendula officinalis (pot marigold), the leaves are fleshy and have a strong smell. The form of the leaves varies from egg-shaped to linear depending on their placement on the stems.
The basket-shaped blossoms consists of pale to bright yellow single-standing petals, and have a diameter between 3 and 5 cm (1.2 and 2.0 in). The main flowering period is from May to June.
The C. maritima habitat outside the nature reserve is under serious threat of destruction due to urban development, such as expansion of the Marsala harbour. In addition, other threats and reasons for its rarity include air pollution in the nature reserve from the nearby salt-works and the competition of invasive species, such as the Hottentot fig 'ice plant' (Carbobrotus edulis), in all native locations. The exact number of the remaining native plants is currently unknown.
The sea marigold is cultivated as an ornamental plant, used as a flowering groundcover and container plant. Cultivars such as the yellow flowering 'Skyfire' and 'Summerlovers Skyfire Yellow', are commonly planted in gardens, parks, and street and highway median plantings; and in flower pots on patios and balconies.
- EOL overview: Calendula maritima . accessed 11.30.2011
- "Advancing the Species Conservation Agenda". An overview of the IUCN SSC Network 2009 – 2012. IUCN Species Survival Commission. p. 90. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- EOL distribution and habitat: : Calendula maritima . accessed 11.30.2011
- Troìa, A. & Pasta, S. (2006). Calendula maritima. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 19 August 2006.
- Bertrand de Montmollin, Wendy Strahm & IUCN/SSC Mediterranean Islands Plant Specialist Group.: The top 50 Mediterranean Island plants : wild plants at the brink of extinction, and what is needed to save them.
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