Rare Plant Species Ravaged by Springs Fire

The Verity's liveforever population of the Santa Monica Mountains in Ventura County was largely killed off during the Springs Fire in May.

Researchers from the National Park Service and UC Santa Cruz have determined the Springs Fire burned the entire habitat of an endangered succulent plant known as Verity’s liveforever (Dudleya verityi)

“The percentage of plants that appears to have survived is very small. In one area where 1,500 plants were counted in 2009, only 10 appeared un-scorched,” according to a statement from UC Santa Cruz researchers released this week.

The Springs Fire, which scorched 24,000 acres in Ventura County and the Santa Monica Mountains last may, occurred during a normal growth period for the succulents, according to researchers, so there was likely little seeding in the fire’s aftermath.

Total extent of the burns has not been completed though, as scientists “are hesitant to conclusively assess all the damage until after the first heavy fall rains.”

The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum organization is considering helping revive the population with its own garden-grown plants from Santa Cruz, but a final decision has not been made.

Verity’s liveforever is listed as federally endangered because of possible losses due to development, fires and quarrying, along with air pollution, non-native weeks and trampling of its habitat.

Unfortunately, this is a case where a single event has adversely affected an entire species,” researchers said.