Ojai Fritillary

Fritillaria ojaiensis

  • Sensitive Species, U.S. Forest Service
  • Fairly Endangered (List 1B.2), California Native Plant Society

Ojai Fritillary. Photo © Arnie Greif.

The Ojai fritillary is only found in and around the Los Padres National Forest, from the Santa Lucia Range to the Topatopa Mountains. Ojai fritillary has not been documented anywhere else in the world other than in Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Monterey counties. With fewer than forty documented occurrences, Ojai fritillary is considered quite rare and endangered.

Also called “Ojai missionbells,” the Ojai fritillary is a member of the lily family. The plant re-sprouts from an underground bulb each year. First to emerge from the bulb is a flat, strap-shaped leaf that grows along the ground. Then the flowering stalk emerges, reaching heights of two feet. It has nodding, bell- or cup-shaped flowers that face towards the ground when blooming in the spring (roughly February through May or June). The lime-yellow flowers have purple spotting, and some characterize them as having “a rather disagreeable scent.” The long, straight, very narrow leaves grow in whorls in the lower stem and in pairs near the top. Ojai fritillary grows mostly on moist, shaded slopes in chaparral, river basins in upland woodland, and conifer forests from about 900-2200 feet in elevation.

Distribution of the Ojai fritillary.

Even though Ojai fritillary has a relatively wide distribution (Monterey to Ventura counties), it is still considered uncommon due to only a small number of plants being present at most known sites. Ojai fritillary is therefore considered a sensitive species by the Forest Service, because any number of impacts could significantly threaten these populations. Threats include maintenance of roads and trails, recreational trampling, and construction/maintenance of fuelbreaks.

Protecting the Ojai Fritillary

The U.S. Forest Service is planning to construct a fuelbreak along Camino Cielo in Santa Barbara County without any protective measures in place to protect Ojai fritillaries that grow in the area. ForestWatch is working to ensure that the Forest Service adequately evaluates impacts to this and other sensitive plant species. Because of its endangered status, it’s important that all remaining populations of Ojai fritillary be protected and avoided.

Photos © Arnie Greif.