Deltoid balsamroot or Puget balsamroot is native to California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. In Washington, it was listed as Imperiled but that conservation status is now under review. In British Columbia, however, it is a red-listed species (equivalent to endangered) and officially listed as an endangered species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Balsamorhiza deltoidea. Today’s photograph is of one of the 1600 or so mature individuals present in Canada.
Not only are there few individuals remaining in Canada, but they are also under threat; according to the COSEWIC 2009 Assessment and Update Status Report (PDF): “The largest population has declined greatly due to site development in recent years and accounts for most of the 35-40% decline in the total Canadian population. All populations experience continued habitat degradation from competition with invasive introduced plants. Four of the eight populations are also at risk of extirpation from stochastic events due to the presence of only one to several plants in each”. Personally, I’m not sure how altering an environment such that individuals of endangered species are destroyed can be called “development” — particularly due to the nature of the development: “A significant portion of the habitat supporting the largest Canadian population, near Campbell River, has been converted into parking lots and light industrial developments”. Brings to mind a song (by a Canadian).
Fire suppression and residential development are cited as additional reasons for a long-term decline in the Canadian populations (do note that the two complement each other). First Nations who resided or used the meadows where deltoid balsamroot grows (or grew) often used fire as a means of suppressing tree growth and promoting herbaceous food species (e.g., camas) and game forage species. This would have helped boost population numbers artificially; it is likely impossible to say with any certainty what the population size would be in British Columbia without any human-induced factors.
Additional images are available from the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture: Balsamorhiza deltoidea.