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Invasive Plant Profile: Sahara Mustard

A small population of Sahara mustard.

Winter rains and spring sunshine bring a variety of lush greenery and brightly colored flowers to the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, but not all of the blooms we see are native to the land. Plants like the Sahara mustard might look pretty with their small yellow flowers, but they are actually a highly aggressive invasive weed that threaten the health of native habitats. Sahara mustard is a top priority for removal when spotted on the Landmarks, as the weed begins to grow earlier than most native plants and has the ability to spread seed quickly and grow rapidly. Spreading of Sahara mustard throughout local habitats can use up vital natural resources, preventing native plants from establishing and driving out wildlife that depend on native plants for food and shelter. As Sahara mustard dries out, the weed becomes fuel for potential wildfire, making removal an essential task before wildfire season. Each adult plant can produce up to 10,000 seeds, which can remain in the soil for several years, so it’s best to remove Sahara mustard as soon as possible.  Removal is typically done by hand, and it is best to uproot the entire plant to make sure it doesn’t grow back. Irvine Ranch Conservancy and its partners, OC Parks, City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach, work diligently to help stop the spread of Sahara mustard on the Landmarks. If you are interested in helping with the removal of Sahara mustard and other invasive plants, consider volunteering with Irvine Ranch Conservancy.  To learn more, check out letsgooutside.org/volunteer/irc-volunteers/. For more information about the Landmarks, visit IRConservancy.org or follow the Landmarks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.