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invasive plants

Tamarisk, Summer & other Observations

by Lorraine on July 1, 2011

Due to my level of persistence in following up with the California Fish & Game “individual”, he finally called me a couple of weeks ago.   Timing is everything, isn’t it?   And of course, he happened to call me when I was driving to a business appointment, making it difficult to talk for too long and just as I pulled up at my client’s house, my phone went dead.   I WAS just going to get his email at that very moment (it figures) to send him the pictures of the tamarisk and a google earth shot with arrows pointing to their obnoxious location.

Fortunately, he had the sense to call me back and leave it for me to follow up with, which I promptly did the next day.   I understand the shortages that many governmental agencies are experiencing at this time and he did indicate to me that they are spread very thin.   The only Botanist in the county is in Ojai and it’s doubtful when she could follow up on my discovery.   He was very concerned to hear about this being found in a watershed and agreed with me that since it’s only a few plants, it would make sense to remove them as soon as possible before they create a huge problem.

So, I did what I could and sent off my contact information and the location of the plants.

In the meanwhile, I’ve had a couple of Forest Service events, the most recent one was on National Trails Days and a large group of people showed up to help us with “brushing” Piedra Blanca trail.   We have had a great deal of rain this year (As a matter of fact the state of CA, has declared our three year drought as being “over”).

We hiked in about 2.5 miles one way but there was so much brush to be cleared, it was overwhelming.   I got distracted along one area on the trail and the group went on without me.   Actually, I rather prefer to be with only myself or a few people, I really don’t like crowds.   Especially on a trail…I want to “hear” things from nature and not conversations.

The benefit of me staying in one area, hacking away at my least favorite plant (Chamise), game me the opportunity to see a Horned Toad run right across the trail.   He was sooooo cool!   He stopped under a bush, posed for me and I swear he smiled as I took his picture.

Horned Toads are quite rare these days and I seldom see them anymore.   This is probably due mainly to habitat loss…. After taking this picture, I hoisted my gear and headed up the trail to meet with the rest of the group.  There was an enormous variety of plants blooming, especially our native Yucca but for the sake of not making this post too long, I will not mention them at this time.  

Plus, I am assuming you want a report about my garden at my home.   It’s beautiful of course, filled with birds, lizards and butterflies and the Salvias are heavy with blossoms and their fragrance permeates the air.

It’s a wonderful place to relax, think or not think and have a glass of Merlot.

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Non-Native Invasive Plants

by Lorraine on May 27, 2011

Sigh, I want to stress that I am not a horticulturist or a botanist but simply a person who happens to love the environment and nature.   I breaks my heart to see it damaged by intentionally introducing animals into a habitat where they don’t belong (I’m thinking of the mongooses I saw on Maui to control rats but ended up destroying the eggs of the local birds) or plants that take over and engulf areas that are meant for native plants.

A week ago as I was walking up a dry stream bed behind my house, doing some seed collecting and I was shocked to see a Tamerisk bush growing in it that was about 8′ tall.   What a heartbreaking vision this was, plus I could see some smaller plants in the area surrounding it as well.

The problem with Tamerisk  is that they are not only an invasive species of plant but they will literally take all the water that they can find and deprive the native plants in the same area of any moisture to sustain themselves.   They have very long tap roots, are extremely difficult to remove and eventually they will choke out any competition and completely take over the area.

I just felt so upset about this and resigned to the feeling that there was nothing that I could do about it.  In all the years of hiking around in the hills and through the stream bed areas, I have never seen one before and I’m wondering if some idiot planted some in the housing tract nearby or if possibly the golf course’s landscape that butts up to the area, it the source of the invader.

Many plants that are popular for use in landscaping come from other areas and are not compatible with our climate, environment or our local plants.   They tend to invade the hillsides and open spaces and it becomes virtually impossible to stop their expansion.  Please inform yourself, your landscaper or Gardener as to which plants should be avoided when planning  your landscaping.

Do nature a favor and be sure that your choices aren’t going to become a problem in the future.   “It” may look nice (Fountain Grass) but it’s an awful choice when there are so many other beautiful native plants that are better and more beautiful to use for landscaping your home.

For more information, you can go to the California Invasive Plant Council: