California Sagebrush and Change of Seasons

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Southern California is in its fourth year of drought. Walking in the hills of Kenneth Hahn Park the strain of it on the native vegetation is noticeable.  The hillside are brown and dry, seemily covered with dead brush.  But since late October there has been several small rain showers. Not much, my rain gauge shows we’re just over an inch for the year. But it has triggered many dormant plants to start growing again.

This past summer, California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), found throughout the park appeared as a tumble of dry grey twigs. But in the weeks following the rains, green leaf buds started appearing on those seemingly dead twigs.

A few plants were soon covered in green but the drought has been hard on many of them. Most of the large bushes have only a few branches generating new leaves, the rest of the branches having died off. And some show no life, likely to never grow again.

Another dry winter and those still alive may not come back next year. But if the rains come these fragrant plants will fill the hillsides green. And in the ground lies the seeds of the next generation, waiting for the wet years to return.

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Photos by Alan Starbuck

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