Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Native Seed Farm Program Coordinator, Rachel Lambert, is giving us an inside look at what species are growing on the Farm this year and other behind-the-scenes information. Make sure to catch the first part of this interview, which was published last week!
What flower species are planted on the Native Seed Farm this year?
This year we’re growing over 50 native species including American bird's-foot trefoil, Strigose lotus, Bicolored/mini lupine, Wishbone bush, Vinegarweed, Deerweed, Winecup clarkia, Purple owl's clover, White pincushion, Yellow pincushion, Cobweb thistle, Common cryptantha, Slender buckwheat, California poppy, California goldfields, Chick lupine, Arroyo lupine, Parry's phacelia,
California plantain, Coastal tidy tips, Smallhead clover, Littleseed Mhuly, Coastal sagebrush, California buckwheat, White sage, Black sage, Coastal Prickly Pear Cactus, Palmer's goldenbush, Menzie's goldenbush, Ragweed, California mugwort, Woolypod milkweed, Narrow-leaf milkweed, California brome grass, Common sand aster, California croton, Sticky monkeyflower, Blue wildrye, California fuschia, Leafy daisy, Longstem buckwheat, Common sun rose, Cliff aster, California melic grass, Longleaf/Silverleaf lupine, Branching phacelia, California bee plant, Western blue-eyed grass, Goldenrod, Giant needle grass, Foothill needle grass, One-sided blue grass, Goldenstars, Orange fiddlenecks, and Schoolbells.
What flowers are currently in bloom?
Wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis) which has magenta blossoms that only open in the afternoon. California poppies (Eschscholzia californic) are at full steam and Arroyo lupines (Lupinus succulentus) just started! California goldfields (Lasthenia gracilis) are little tiny yellow flowers, like daisies but smaller than a penny, and Orange fiddlenecks (Amsinckia intermedia) will start to bloom soon!
All of the others! The cool weather has delayed things a bit this year, but in my experience some plants will bud and bud and the buds kind of build up, and then they will all bloom at once on a warm day! So we haven't missed out on anything yet.
We do have some new additions this year – Coastal tidy tips are a charming little yellow centered daisy with white at the tips. And also, a new little native clover, which is a real first for us. I am especially looking forward to meeting them!
Are there any unique native species planted on the Farm this year?
Like all parents, we like to think all our flowers are special, and all of them have at least one special purpose on restoration sites! Most have several special purposes at once. Many help hold down the soil on steep slopes, make deep roots and bust up the hard soil to let water soak in better, and provide the right structure and nesting space for birds. Others make tons of seeds each year that can last a long time, forming an underground seed stockpile hiding in the soil (a seed bank) that can be ready to grow in case of emergencies. For example, if another wildfire occurs, the seeds in the top layer are exposed and can be triggered to germinate by the chemical compounds in the smoke, making these locations more resilient in the future, so that the good things grow back before the weeds do!
If I have to pick one unique species, we have an especially quirky one this year called White everlastings, which are covered head to toe in long shiny silvery white hairs! They open up only a tiny bit for pollination, and they are just as pretty after flowering. They are grown just for the gravel covered "dry washes," aka riverbed areas that are dry in summer. White everlastings also smell amazing--the whole plant, not just the blossoms. Some people think they smell like maple syrup, other people think they smell like curry. So, color isn't everything! These little guys usually bloom in late summer, so visitors can come to the Farm year-round to get the full experience!