Wednesday, April 1, 2009


This is my March report for Lunada Canyon. We took our monthly walk on the 14th, but I am just getting around to posting the photos. Remembering how beautiful everything looked last spring, I was looking forward to getting back to the canyon after missing so many months. To my surprise, it was a mess! It has become so overgrown with weeds and aggressive non-native plants that you cannot even find the path. There is supposed to be a path through the center of the photo below with native plants on either side that were laboriously planted by volunteers under the direction of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy (PVPLC). You can see a Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla) plant on the left, but the path is covered with Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium) and wild Oats (Avena fatua). Now the Cocklebur is a native (the one with the broad leaves) but it is a pest. The Wild Cucumber (Marah marcocarpus), also a native and also something of a pest, was overgrowing everything, too, but not as badly as last year.

The lower path was overgrown with Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) that was so tall, you could get lost in it. Believe it or not, there was a visible path through this stuff.

The mustard was intermixed with the Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus) that seems to have spread everywhere from the small area of growth that we saw last year. I have to admit it was pretty. This is an area that by law they have to plow under before June every year due to fire danger. Maybe that's how the lupine spread.

We found the "other" lupine across the dry stream bed on the other side. I am still not sure of the identification of this one. It looks to me like Bush Lupine (Lupinus longifolius) but I guess it could also be Silver Bush Lupine (Lupinus albifrons) which has been found on the Peninsula. Or maybe it's something else entirely. I couldn't get a good photo of the whole plant because it was growing in a thicket so here are separate photos of the leaves and blooms for comparison with the Arroyo Lupine. I love its silvery blooms with a touch of pink at the bottom of the stalk and only a faint hint of bluish-purple in the middle. The photo of the leaves shows the "pea" pods as lupines are in the pea family.

But getting back to my topic, maintenance seems to be the most difficult thing for projects like this canyon restoration. There is usually a lot of enthusiasm for getting started. I'm sure there were plenty of volunteers and lots of donations to the conservancy when they proposed setting aside this land and restoring it to its native condition. But now the much more difficult task of keeping it in good shape and not allowing all the hard work in planting new and more desirable natives go to waste confronts them. I was struck by the comparison to Oak Canyon which has a staff on site every day and paid mainenance crews coming in whenever the paths or other facilities need repair. The PVPLC obviously cannot afford to do that with every property under their care and so must rely on what help they can get and otherwise let nature to do its job. We've made our report to them now we'll see what happens in the next few months.

1 comment:

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