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Sacramento Orcutt Grass

(Orcuttia viscida)

Sacramento Orcutt grass (Orcuttia viscida) is a California endangered plant species, which means that killing or possessing the plant is prohibited by the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Sacramento Orcutt grass is also listed as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. The species is a short annual plant of the grass family (Poaceae) that blooms from April to July. Sacramento Orcutt grass is only found in in the bottoms of vernal pools in eastern Sacramento County, and is the only plant known to be endemic to (restricted to) Sacramento County. There are ten occurrences of Sacramento Orcutt grass that are presumed to still exist in the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB).

Primary threats to the continued existence of Sacramento Orcutt grass include historic and ongoing destruction and degradation of vernal pool habitat and negative effects from non-native plant species, such as waxy mannagrass (Glyceria declinata), that can invade vernal pool habitats. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) completed a link opens in new tab or windowclimate change vulnerability assessment for Sacramento Orcutt grass (PDF) in 2011 that indicated the species is highly to moderately vulnerable to climate change, and the abundance and/or range extent of the species is likely to decrease, perhaps significantly, by the year 2050.

To protect Sacramento Orcutt grass from extinction, all remaining populations should be protected in perpetuity. Furthermore, a monitoring for adaptive management program for all remaining populations should be implemented to identify emerging threats to the species and to ensure that vernal pool habitats are being managed properly.

One of the remaining populations of Sacramento Orcutt grass occurs at Phoenix Field Ecological Reserve, managed by CDFW. CDFW has implemented a monitoring for adaptive management plan for this population to monitor possible impacts to the population from waxy mannagrass. More information is available in the link opens in new tab or windowPhoenix Field Ecological Reserve Sacramento Orcutt Grass Monitoring Plan With 2015-2017 Results & Discussion (PDF), dated April 2018.

CDFW may issue permits for Sacramento Orcutt grass pursuant to CESA, and you can learn more about the California laws protecting Sacramento Orcutt grass and other California native plants . Populations of Sacramento Orcutt grass occur in CDFW's North Central Region.

Updated 10/25/2018


For more information on any of the topics above, please contact the Native Plant Program at nativeplants@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Habitat Conservation Planning Branch
1700 9th Street, 2nd Floor, Sacramento, CA 95811
Mailing: P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
(916) 653-4875


Orcuttia viscida, CDFW Photo by Jeb Bjerke
Orcuttia viscida, CDFW Photo by Jeb Bjerke

Orcuttia viscida, CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers - link opens in new tab or window
Orcuttia viscida, CDFW illustration by Mary Ann Showers, click for full-sized image