The small-flowered morning glory is a rare native flower, hard to find due to its scarcity and its tiny, quarter-inch blooms. Spotting the Convolvulus simulans in the West Loma Watershed habitat restoration area in the hills above Irvine is significant on its own, but the growth of this native plant is also an important indicator that the ecosystem is starting to rebound and the restoration is working.
The flower was first found by Quinn Sorenson, Irvine Ranch Conservancy research and restoration technician, on a steep slope undergoing restoration planting. In areas like West Loma, Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers remove masses of invasive weeds and then plant native seeds and seedlings. However, the small-flowered morning glory sprouted from the remnant soil seed bank – the natural storage of seeds, often dormant, that exists within the soil. Removal of invasive weeds such as black mustard, annual grasses, and non-native thistles often opens up opportunities for native seeds remaining in the soil to grow.