Endangered Species Recovery Program
Taxonomy.-- Keck (1935) gave Comanche Point layia the name Layia leucopappa. The common name refers to the type locality in Kern County, where this species was first collected in 1927. The original scientific name is still in use (Baldwin and Bainbridge 1993). Comanche Point layia is a member of the aster family.
Description.-- Comanche Point layia (Figure 26) has glandular stems that grow up to 60 centimeters (24 inches) tall. The leaves are oblong, fleshy, and entire to lobed. Each daisy-like flower head is composed of two kinds of tiny flowers: ray florets have flattened corollas and occur near the margin of the head, whereas disk florets are tubular and are clustered in the center of the head. Comanche Point layia has 6 to 15 white ray florets and 20 to 100 yellow disk lorets. The achenes produced by the ray and disk florets differ slightly. Comanche Point layia is distinguished from other members of the genus that have white ray flowers by the fleshy leaves and microscopic characters of the flower head and achenes (Munz and Keck 1959, Abrams and Ferris 1960, Baldwin and Bainbridge 1993).
Figure 26. Illustration of Comanche Point layia.
Historical Distribution.-- Comanche Point layia is endemic to Kern County. It occurred historically in three general areas of the extreme southern San Joaquin Valley and adjacent hills to the east (Figure 27): (1) the Comanche and Tejon Hills (including the type locality), (2) between Edison and Bena, and (3) on the Valley floor near the southern end of Kern Lake (Twisselmann 1967, 1969, CDFG 1995).
Life History and Habitat.--The typical flowering period for Comanche Point layia, an annual, is March to April (Munz and Keck 1959). However, it has been observed only in years of higher than average rainfall (Twisselmann 1967, 1969). Cross-pollination is necessary for seed set (Munz and Keck 1959). In the Comanche and Tejon Hills, Comanche Point layia grows on sparsely-vegetated microhabitats in Nonnative Grassland. Associated species include annual buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.), hollisteria (Hollisteria lanata), leafy-stemmed coreopsis (Coreopsis calliopsidea), and Tejon poppy. On the Valley floor, Comanche Point layia was found on the margins of alkali sinks and on hummocks. Comanche Point layia typically occurs on light-colored, subalkaline clay soils at elevations of 150 to 350 meters (500 to 1,150 feet) (Twisselmann 1967, 1969, Baldwin and Bainbridge 1993, CDFG 1995).
Reasons for Decline and Threats to Survival.-- The formerly extensive occurrences of Comanche Point layia on the Valley floor apparently have been eliminated by conversion to agriculture (Twisselmann 1967, 1969, CDFG 1995). Populations in the Comanche and Tejon Hills potentially are threatened by urban development and are subject to grazing (Skinner and Pavlik 1994).
Conservation Efforts.-- Comanche Point layia has not received any formal protection. Conservation needs of the species are being considered during the development of the Kern County Valley Floor Habitat Conservation Plan (T. James pers. comm.).
Conservation Strategy.-- To ensure long-term conservation of Comanche Point layia, the strategy is to protect at least five populations representing the full historic range of the species. Protected areas should be natural land in blocks of at least 65 hectares (160 acres) and should contain a minimum of 1,000 individuals to reduce the likelihood of extinction from intrinsic or random processes. The highest-priority task to recover Comanche Point layia is to ensure that the extant populations are protected from development. Comanche Point layia could be protected jointly with Bakersfield cactus and Tejon poppy at Comanche Point if the appropriate microhabitats are included in a conservation area. Monitoring of the populations is necessary to determine if they are self-sustaining. If populations do not decline, changes in land use are not necessary. Surveys for Comanche Point layia are also important in alkali sinks and can be conducted concurrently with those for Bakersfield smallscale and other halophytes. Comanche Point layia also may be rediscovered during surveys for Bakersfield cactus, California jewelflower, Vaseks clarkia, and Tejon poppy in the Comanche and Bena Hills. Collection of a representative seed sample (Center for Plant Conservation 1991) from the Comanche-Tejon Hills metapopulation and any discovered in disjunct areas is recommended to preserve genetic material because the distribution of this species is so limited. Also, if the Gator Pond area is protected for Bakersfield smallscale and Buena Vista Lake shrew, Comanche Point layia potentially could be reintroduced. The status of Comanche Point layia should be reevaluated within 5 years of recovery plan approval or wen surveys have been completed, whichever is less.