Up in Kenneth Hahn Park (Week of 3/5/17)

While the lupines are still blooming , the next wave of flowers are bursting forth.

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California sunflowers (Encelia californica), have been blooming for awhile, but now their yellow flowers fill the green hillsides with vibrant patches of yellow. This show should go on for some time as most of the plants I pass by still have buds getting ready to bloom.

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Along one stretch of the trail, delicate purple flowers poke above the grass. These are blue dicks, also referred to as wild hyacinth (Dichelostemma capitatum). These plants grow from a bulb and will die back soon, sleeping underground till the next rainy season.

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Another flower showing up around the park is California morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia ssp. intermedia). Its bright white flowers pop out from the green foliage around it.

All three of these plants can be purchased from many nurseries specializing in native plants either in pots, or, in the case of blue dicks, as bulbs.

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 A non-native purple morning glory (Ipomoea tricolor) was spotted growing wild near one of the parking lots. It was only one plant so it doesn’t appear invasive, just a pleasant little surprise.

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Another non-native flower is sourgrass or Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae). Unfortunately this plant, though pretty, is invasive and can crowd out native plants. On the slopes in Kenneth Hahn that have sever habitat degradation, they are prominent. Once established, it is extremely hard to eradicate so it will probably remain part of the urban wilderness. It is often found in our lawns as a weed. Even when pulled out, little bulblets are left behind for a new plant to start from.

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There’s ladybugs a plenty too. The ones here are likely convergent lady beetles (Hippodamia convergent). But they seem to have something else on their minds other than eating aphids.  Find an hotel you two! This here is a family trail!

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The first time I spotted this in the Park – poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) – something every Southern California hiker knows about. There’s a reason why you wear long pants while hiking around here. While you may not want to dance and prance in it, many animals eat its leaves and berries and are unaffected by its ‘poison.’ It may not have a place in the garden, it does in the wild.

For more information on sourgrass (Oxalis pes-caprae), Bermuda and issue with it, check out A Natural History of That Little Yellow Flower that’s Everywhere Right Now

Photos by Alan Starbuck

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