by Marcia Hanscom
The Western Goldenrod is in bloom. And the Yerba Mansa meadow looks like someone splashed red paint over its beautiful white flowers. The red contrasts with the white and the rich green leaves that make the meadow one of my favorite places in the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve at this time of year. In addition, this is the preferred time for Seaside Heliotrope to bloom and show off its abundance of tiny coiled flowers with either purple or yellow in the centers, depending on if the flowers have been visited by insects yet.
When people think of wildflowers, it is not Los Angeles they usually think of, but here in LA we have an amazing array of them. One just needs to know where to look.
The Ballona Valley has been designated by Audubon California as an "Important Bird Area." But wildflowers are just as abundant in terms of diversity along the Los Angeles coastline, and the birds, butterflies and other pollinators are likewise in abundance. Neighbors to these areas can help in restoration efforts for these natural lands - some of which have been protected by the City of Los Angeles (including LA World Airports - LAWA) and some by the State of California. How?
Residents and businesses can plant native plants that help increase the area where these native species thrive, and they can also contribute to saving water, energy and money (for their own pockets, as well as for the greater good.)
Yellow is the color that most of our native wildflowers sport, with many native plants of our region including "golden" in the species' common name. Still, I have come to especially love a walk along a natural sand dune while taking in the sight of the beautiful silvery-leaved Dune Lupine's light lilac colored-flowers attracting the native Bumble Bee (Bombus.)
To many, these wildflowers may be hidden, or considered to be "weeds" - but close inspection and slowing down to watch for awhile will reveal the ecological complexities of the region. Bee flies, dragonflies, bumble bees, ground-nesting bees and so many other pollinators are abundant in the summer especially - while wildflower blooming has a "second spring" in our region.
I invite you to open your eyes and your hearts to the beauty of the wildflowers of the Los Angeles coast.
© 2013, Marcia Hanscom & Ballona Institute