Rainy season likely to produce rare super blooms across California

March 13, 2019

Travis Schlepp

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - A particularly wet weather is expected to produce super blooms across the state of California, including many rare plant species.

The rainy winter pulled many California counties out of drought and the extra moisture will likely lead to super bloom events all across the state.

California poppies are blooming in places across Southern California right now and more wildflower blooms are expected this spring.

On Figueroa Mountain in the Los Padres National Forest, known for its vibrant wildflower blooms, chocolate lilies are begin to blossom. Poppies have yet to arrive but should be just around the corner.

In addition to an excess of rain, forest fires are being credited with aiding the growth of some wildflowers. Fires can actually help some species of plants germinate, according researchers at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. The mixture of the two conditions creates the perfect environment for an explosion of plant life.

“Many of California’s annual plants can exist as seeds in the soil for decades, waiting for the right conditions to germinate,” said Dr. Heather Schneider, rare plant biologist at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. “The combination of wet conditions and recent burns gives us the potential to see things that haven’t been seen for a long time or even document new occurrences, especially in burn areas.”

According to the Santa Barbara Resource Conservation District, there are about 2000 kinds of native plants in Santa Barbara County, 200 of which are considered rare.

This season will provide opportunities to see the blooms of these rare California plants:

• Late-flowered mariposa lily (Calochortus fimbriatus)
• Catalina mariposa lily (Calochortus catalinae)
• Pale yellow tidytips (Layia heterotricha)
• Humboldt lily ((Lilium humboldtii ssp. occellatum)
• Santa Ynez False Lupine (Thermopsis macrophylla)

"Fire followers" in recently burned areas may also pop up this year. These types of plants come up in large swaths after a fire but disappear when the area re-vegetates in later years.

Some fire followers include:

• Golden eardrops (Erhendorferia chrysantha)
• Fire poppy (Papaver californicum)
• Big flowered phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora)

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will be holding a number of excursions hosted by botanic experts, including field trips to Burton Mesa and Oso Flaco field as well as hikes to Arroyo Hondo and a day trip to Santa Cruz Island. For more information about those trips, visit the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden website.

Carrizo Plain National Monument, which is known for its breathtaking wildflower super blooms, will likely see the majority of their vegetation bloom in April.

Carrizo Plain

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