Monday, June 18, 2007

Lunada Canyon

My friend Joan invited me to join her on a walk through "her" canyon last week. Joan and two other of her friends have volunteered to be "keepers" of the canyon. The Lunada Canyon Preserve is under the stewardship of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy which is trying to restore the canyon to its original state. To that end they have removed invasive, non-native species and planted hundreds of coastal California native plants. Joan's job as keeper is to walk the trail through the canyon once a month and complete a report on the condition of the trail and plants. Joan had asked me to help her identify some of the plants and since I am by no means an expert, I found this to be a welcome opportunity to learn something new.

Luckily the plantings were done in 2004-2005 when we had a lot of rainfall and the plants were able to get established before this summer of drought started. There was no funding for an irrigation system. Everything looked extremely dry to me and it is only June. It will be a long time before any of these plants get any appreciable water. What amazes me about California natives is their ability to survive under these very harsh conditions. Like deciduous plants in more northern latitudes, these plants can look totally dead in the dry season and then "spring" back to life when the rains start again.

We equipped ourselves with maps and photos of the plants that the Conservancy had listed and of course, my trusty camera, and headed out for a very pleasant afternoon hike. Joan had made metal tags to put on certain plants to help her identify them again in the future. We looked and felt very professional and laughed at our inexperience.

For those who may want to know just which plants the Conservancy planted, which plants they consider to be native not only to the southern coast of California but to our little peninsula, here is the complete list. If you live in Southern California, you may want to consider these for your back yard. They are all extremely drought tolerant and some of the flowers are lovely and unusual. And several of them like the artemisia and sages have wonderful smells. These are the sorts of plants that my other friend Kathy grows in her yard.

Artemisia californica—CA sagebrush
Artemisia douglasiana—Mugwort
Baccharis salicifolia—Mulefat
Dudleya lanceolata—Live-for-ever
Encelia californica—CA Bush sunflower
Epilobium canum—CA Fuschia
Eriogonum fasciculatum—CA Buckwheat
Eschscholzia californica—CA Poppy
Hazardia squarrosa—Sawtooth Goldenbush
Isocoma menziesii—Coast Goldenbush
Isomeris arborea—Bladderpod
Leymus condensatus—Giant Rye Grass
Mimulus longiflorus—Sticky Monkeyflower
Rhus integrifolia—Lemonadeberry
Salix lasiolepis—Arroyo Willow
Salvia leucophylla—Purple Sage
Salvia melifera—Black Sage
Sambucus mexicana—Mexican Elderberry

The above photo on the right is of a lupine. Lupines are not on the list so this one was not planted by the Conservancy and has somehow managed to survive or seed itself in the canyon on its own. There are over 60 species of lupine in California and I have had no luck tracking this one down yet. I love lupines and have to stop and take photos of them whenever I find them usually along mountain roads. The photo above left is Salvia leucophylla or Purple Sage and the one below is Isomeris arborea or Bladderpod.

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