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Catalina Island Faces Succulent Poaching Problem

Dudleya virens ssp. insularis captivates conservation professionals and nature lovers with its appealing appearance and ecological significance. But unfortunately, that makes it a target for illegal poaching.

CATALINA ISLAND— Catalina is home to many rare and protected species of both plants and animals. It is one of the Island’s unique attributes that makes it a special place for those who call it home and for the many nature-loving visitors traveling across the Channel each year. Unfortunately, some of the unique species of the Island’s fragile ecosystem are especially vulnerable to threats beyond habitat loss, including illegal collecting.


One species, in particular, is the island liveforever (Dudleya virens ssp. insularis), native to the Channel Islands. The charismatic succulent grows in small rosettes and has adapted to thrive in the Island’s climate. During spring and early summer, liveforevers produce lovely, slender stalks that bloom pink, yellow, or orange to add a vibrant splash of color to the rocky coastal landscape. In addition, they are a food source for native wildlife and essential for natural erosion control.


Recently, Catalina Island Conservancy Rangers intercepted the illegal removal of several mature liveforevers, rescuing the rare succulents. The largest plant taken was several decades old.


“These wild-harvested plants were exceptionally large species and are significant contributors to the gene pool of the local plant population,” said Catalina Island Conservancy Rare Plant Ecologist Kevin Alison in a news release from May 12. “They were taken from the landscape before they were able to produce flowers and seed, so in addition to these lovely individual plants being removed, all the potential future plants were eliminated as well. This loss diminishes the resilience of these rare plants to survive into the future, especially at the local population level.”

Dudleya virens ssp. insularis bears a California Rare Plant Rank of 1B.2 (designating that it is rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere; moderately threatened in California). In 2021, California passed AB 223 with overwhelming bipartisan support, providing essential protections for many subspecies of Dudleya by establishing penalties for those who illegally remove them from state and private lands without a permit and landowner permission. Poaching the imperiled Dudleya in California comes with a $5,000 fine per plant.

“Though it may look like the cliffs of Catalina are bursting with these beautiful native succulents, they are, in fact, quite rare and important to the Island ecosystem,” said Conservancy Sr. Director of Conservation Lauren Dennhardt. “We appreciate the Rangers protecting biodiversity and being amazing advocates for Catalina’s wildlands.”

Rangers delivered the salvaged succulents to the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery, awaiting transplanting back onto the landscape. Catalina Island Conservancy has Dudleya virens ssp. insularis in its conservation collection at the Native Plant Nursery and produces plants for restoration.

“All the island liveforever plants at the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery are ethically grown from seed,” added Alison. “Therefore, these plants are available to the public without negative impacts to the plants in the wild.”

To inquire about legally obtaining a responsibly propagated Dudleya from the Nursery, contact Alison at

The public can report suspicious activity by contacting Catalina Island Conservancy’s Rangers at (310) 510-0393, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement at 1-844-FWS-TIPS, or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s CalTIP at 1-888-334-CalTIP.


April 2023 Avalon Harbor Activity


People aboard boats 3068 Average Temp- High 59
Vessels Moored 767 Average Temp- Low 51
Vessels Anchored 109 Average Sea Temp 57
Moorings Sold/ Transferred 2/0 Rain (inches) .01
Citations Issued/ Discharges 0/0 Rain Days 1
Total Cruise Ship Passengers/ Visits 22,932/ 8 Weather Warnings 8

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