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Menzies' wallflower
Erysimum menziesii

General Information

Official Status: Endangered, the Menzies’ wallflower is federally listed under the Endangered Species Act as Endangered, and listed as Endangered by the State of California.

Date Listed: June 22, 1992; Federal Register 57 FR 27848-27859 (pdf, 1.4 MB)

Critical Habitat: Critical habitat has not been designated for Menzies’ wallflower.

Recovery Plan: The Recovery Plan (pdf, 11 MB) for Menzies’s wallflower was approved in 1998.

5-Year Review: A 5-Year Review of Menzies’ wallflower (pdf, 580 KB) was finalized in 2008.

Menzies' wallflower, Photo Credit:  Dave Imper, USFWS

Menzies' wallflower

Photo Credit: Dave Imper, USFWS

arrow button Photo Gallery for Menzies' wallflower

Identifying Characteristics:

Menzies’ wallflower, one of several species of wallflower growing along the coast of California, was first collected from coastal dunes in the Monterey area by Archibald Menzies during the Vancouver expedition from 1782 to 1794.  The taxonomy of Menzies’ wallflower was revised in 1992, when four subspecies were recognized, including E. m. ssp. eurekense (Humboldt Bay wallflower), E. m. ssp. menziesii (Menzies’ wallflower), E. m. ssp. yadonii (Yadon’s wallflower), and finally E. m. ssp. concinnum (curly wallflower), previously considered to be a separate species.  As such, Erysimum menziesii ssp. concinnum was not covered under the Endangered listing. 

Menzies’ wallflower is a low, succulent, biennial to short-lived perennial member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae).  Like many wallflowers in the genus, Menzies’ wallflower produces dense clusters of bright yellow flowers in the winter and early spring (February to April).  Yadon’s wallflower differs in producing flowers in early summer (May to June).  In general, the fleshy, spoon-shaped rosette leaves distinguish the three subspecies of Menzies’ wallflower from other native wallflowers.
Current Geographic Range:

Menzies’ wallflower is known from 16 or more sites, scattered within four dune systems in northern and central California:  Humboldt Bay in Humboldt County, Ten Mile River in Mendocino County, the Marina Dunes at Monterey Bay, and the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey County. 

The subspecies eurekense, also referred to as the Humboldt Bay wallflower, is restricted to Humboldt County, and extends from the mouth of the Mad River south approximately 12 miles to the southern tip of the Samoa Peninsula (North Spit) of Humboldt Bay.  The subspecies menziesii, also referred to as Menzies’ wallflower, exhibits a very disjunct distribution in Monterey and Mendocino Counties.  The Mendocino County population occupies part of the Tenmile Dunes, extending from the Tenmile River approximately 5.4 miles south nearly to Fort Bragg, and up to 0.5 miles inland.  Virtually the entire distribution occurs within MacKerricher State Park. In Monterey County, this subspecies is very rare, restricted to four isolated dunes on the west edge of the Monterey Peninsula, extending from Point Pinos south about 5 miles to Cypress Point.  The subspecies yadonii, also referred as Yadon’s wallflower, occurs approximately 7 miles north of the Monterey Peninsula.  The entire current and historical distribution occurs between the mouth of the Salinas River and the former Fort Ord military reservation, a total of about 8 miles.
Life History:

The predominate life history in this group is referred to as semelparous (monocarpic) perennial, meaning that it flowers and produces fruit only once during its life, after which it dies.  Yadon’s wallflower differs in that it can fruit twice.  Menzies wallflower in general forms a basal rosette of leaves that may persist for up to 8 years before flowering.  Blooming typically occurs from March through April (Yadon’s, May-June), although it may begin as early as late February.  The species is self-compatible, but also reproduces by outcrossing.  The Humboldt Bay wallflower is pollinated by a solitary bee species.  The fruits mature by mid-June, but the seeds remain attached to the fruit walls after dehiscence.  The seeds disperse over a long period, primarily in conjunction with winter storm events that dislodge the mature seeds and scatter them by way of a tumbling action.  Germination follows the first rains in fall or early winter.  Plants often produce numerous seed, but at least the Humboldt Bay wallflower does not have a persistent seed bank, and the survival rate for seedlings is very low.  Reproduction may also be hindered by infestation by a fungus that causes white rust disease in the Humboldt Bay population.

General Habitat Characteristics:

The Humboldt Bay wallflower occurs in nearshore dunes and swales, usually in low native vegetation dominated by beach bursage, beach sagewort, dune goldenrod, coast buckwheat, sand verbena, beach pea, and sand-dune bluegrass.  European beachgrass, yellow lupine and iceplant are common non-native, invasive species that encroach on Humboldt Bay wallflower habitat. 

The Mendocino County population of Menzies’ wallfloweroccurs in habitat similar to the Humboldt Bay wallflower.  In Monterey, both Menzies’ wallflower and Yadon’s wallflower can also occur on the coastal strand, close to the high tide line, protected from wave action, as well as in bluff scrub and on open, sparsely vegetated dunes.  On the coastal strand the species has high exposure to strong wind, salt spray, and occasional wave action from storms and high tides.  In general, the substrate is loose sand lacking in organic matter and minerals.  Associated species along the Monterey Peninsula often include beach evening primrose, beach-bur, sea rocket, beach knotweed, sand verbena and iceplant.  Monterey County populations are relatively free of the invasive European beachgrass.
Population and Habitat Status:

The total population of Humboldt Bay wallflower at about 29,700 plants, representing a substantial increase since the previous estimate in 1989.   Much of the increase was thought to be correlated with extensive restoration work and invasive plant removal conducted since 1988.  The USFWS contracted a complete population-wide census again in 2006; those results are not yet available.  A colony of  Humboldt Bay wallflower was also recently discovered on the South Spit of Humboldt Bay.  That small colony have benefited from caging to reduce deer browsing.  Another colony is located on the Elk River Spit of Humboldt Bay.  No formal estimate of the Mendocino County population, within MacKerricher State Park,  has been made, but it likely exceeds 3,000 to 5,000 plants.   Estimates related to Menzies’ wallflower in Monterey County are generally out-of-date.  The small colony near Point Pinos was nearly gone in 2002, but since has rebounded slightly with great effort.  The population at Asilomar State Beach has grown from less than 100 plants in 1985 to more than 5,000 plants in 2003, as a result of intensive management and artificial propagation by State Parks.  Yadon’s wallflower is generally restricted to Marina State Beach, and a private-owned parcel to the north.  The Marina State Beach population was estimated at about 300 plants in 1985, growing to more than 8,000 plants by 1987 as a result of propagation by State Parks, but since has declined an unknown amount. 


Menzies’ wallflower remains threatened by invasive species encroachment, deer predation, recreational impacts and sand mining.  Although census data are generally lacking, the population in Mendocino County appears at low risk at this time, and evidence suggests the Humboldt Bay wallflower may have increased somewhat since it was listed.  However, Yadon’s wallflower and the Monterey distribution of  subspecies menziesii remain at high risk.  The Mendocino County population is vulnerable to future growth around MacKerricher State Park, and an anticipated increase in recreational pressure on the park, as well as invasive species.  While significant progress has been made in habitat restoration benefiting all three subspecies, no mechanism has yet been implemented to ensure that monitoring and restoration are implemented on a routine basis in the future, nor has a dedicated source of funding been allocated for that purpose. 

Overall, the risk to the Humboldt Bay wallflower appears to have decreased, while the risk to the other subspecies has stayed the same or increased.

Conservation Needs:

Most importantly, successful partnerships with California State Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, Cities of Eureka and Pacific Grove, Big Sur Land Trust, Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District, and various private owners in whose hands the fate of Menzies’ wallflower rests, must be established and maintained to successfully recovery this species.  

Some other efforts needed to recover this species include:

  1. Acquire or secure protective easements on critical parcels across the range. 
  2. Efforts to control invasive species must continue across the range, and the restoration methods must incorporate the most cost-effective means available. 
  3. Perhaps the most critical element in recovery is identification of ways to institutionalize or make permanent the invasive species monitoring and control program for critical populations.  The public entities owning the majority of the distribution of the three subspecies (State Parks, BLM, City of Eureka, City of Pacific Grove, USFWS) should determine the amount of needed funds, and pursue opportunities to secure permanent funding for future monitoring and habitat restoration efforts.  These management tasks must not be restricted by future agency staffing level and budgetary limitations.  
  4. For habitat located on parklands, further understanding is needed of how to best accommodate the future, inevitable increase in recreational use in concert with a stable population of Menzies’ wallflower.  In general, a formal monitoring program is urgently needed to determine trends, and provide information on which to base management decisions regarding recreational use. 
  5. Current population data are needed for all populations except the Humboldt Bay wallflower, in order to determine the current level of threat, and determine whether past management has been effective.  It is also recommended that a range-wide inventory for the curly wallflower (E. m. ssp. concinnum) be conducted to determine its current distribution and abundance.  There is anecdotal evidence indicating this wallflower may have declined in recent years.
  6. An effective system for reporting all population survey data and species enhancement project summaries to the USFWS is needed.
  7. A genetics evaluation of Menzies’ wallflower across its range, in conjunction with a taxonomic review, is needed to help resolve outstanding questions on the identity of several large populations.  In addition, a genetics management plan is needed to guide future population introduction and population augmentation projects.
  8. Several opportunities may be available for reintroduction of Yadon’s wallflower, and a State/Federal/Private coordinated approach to habitat restoration affecting the majority of the Marina Dunes system.  The nearby Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge could play an integral role in those activities.
  9. Deer predation is one of the greatest threats to Menzies’ wallflower on the Monterey Peninsula.  A comprehensive assessment of the problem is needed, followed by prioritization of sites, and appropriate methods for reducing the threat.
  10. A comprehensive assessment is needed to determine if sand mining is affecting the Marina Dunes system, and whether beach retreat has or will soon impact Yadon’s wallflower.
Related Documents:
No other related documents, other than those listed in the general information section above.
Other Informational Weblinks:

Last updated: September 21, 2017

Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, California 95521, USA
Tel: (707) 822.7201 Fax: (707) 822.8411