From the towering chaparral yucca (Hesperoyucca whipplei) to the miniscule California plantain (Plantago erecta), the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks is home to a large number of unique and sometimes rare native plants. Native Plant Week, which is April 16-24, celebrates these species that support a diverse collection of local wildlife.
Not surprisingly, the Landmarks contain a wide variety of plant communities, including coastal sage scrub, chaparral, valley grassland, oak woodland and riparian forest – all home to many native plants. Native plants are species that are indigenous to a certain area, and have not been introduced by human activity. In the Landmarks, some of the most common native plants include California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), laurel sumac (Malosma laurina), and purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra).
Landowners such as OC Parks, the City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach offer many programs where visitors to the Landmarks can explore trails lined with lush native plants, as well as activities where volunteers can remove invasive species to help native plants thrive. Whether you’re looking for stewardship opportunities to volunteer at, or a hike outdoors, consider attending these activities during Native Plant Week to catch a glimpse of native species out on the Landmarks:
Learn about native plants during these slower-paced programs that include multiple stops.
- Discover Hidden Wildlands: Mesa Loop, Monday, 4/18 – Hike seldom-explored canyons and trails in OC Parks’ Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park. Native plants along these trails include black sage (Salvia mellifera), California sagebrush and coastal prickly pear cactus (Opuntia littoralis).
- City of Irvine's Bommer Canyon – Explore designated trails in Bommer Canyon on your own daily from dawn to dusk. Common native plants seen in this area include coastal prickly pear cactus and coastal cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia prolifera).
- Wild Tales, Friday, 4/22 – Gather the kids for an outdoor adventure that includes storytelling and a short nature walk in OC Parks' Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. Along the way, you might see black sage, California sagebrush and bush sunflower (Encelia californica).
Hiking & Fitness
Break a sweat while seeing native plants trailside.
- Hicks Haul Road in Limestone Canyon – Embark on a variety of fitness-focused hikes in OC Parks' Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve. This paved road is lined with plentiful amounts of native plants, including black sage, bush sunflower, and California poppies (Eschscholzia californica). Visitors might even catch a glimpse of morning glories (Calystegia macrostegia) in bloom. Hikes occur Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and Tuesday mornings; click on the title above for specific programs.
- Cardio Hike: Agua Chinon, Saturday, 4/23 – Hike 9 miles through Agua Chinon in Limestone Canyon. Visitors will pass by many habitat restoration sites rich with native plants and wildflowers in bloom, including California poppies, chia (Salvia columbariae) and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria).
- Orchard Hills Evening Hike, Sunday, 4/24 – Meander around a working avocado orchard during a 3-mile hike in the City of Irvine’s Orchard Hills. Native plants along these trails include California sagebrush, black sage, California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) and bush mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus).
Protect native plants by removing invasive species.
- Adopt a Canyon – Agua Chinon Stewardship, Tuesday, 4/19 – See rare plants such as Hubby's phacelia (Phacelia hubbyi) while helping to restore local habitat so native plants and local wildlife can thrive.
- Pulling Together at Quail Hill, Thursday, 4/21 – Remove invasive artichoke thistle from the Quail Hill Loop in the City of Irvine’s Quail Hill.
- Be a Steward to Santiago Creek, Saturday, 4/23 – Remove invasive plants including castor bean (Ricinus communis), tree tobacco (Nicotiana glauca), and tamarisk (Tamarix ramosissima) from Santiago Creek in OC Parks’ Fremont Canyon Nature Preserve.
These programs are free with required pre-registration, which closes 4 p.m. the day prior to each activity. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Difficulty levels and age requirements vary from program to program, so make sure to check out each activity description to learn more. All programs are led by Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff and volunteers, and all tools and training are provided during stewardship programs. For more information on events, or to register, click the titles above or go toLetsGoOutside.org/activities.