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Wildflower Takeover with Irvine Ranch Conservancy

Join the "Wildflower Takeover" by Irvine Ranch Conservancy to discover stunning images, fun facts and the ecological importance of native wildflower species. 🌸🌼#NationalWildflowerWeek #WildflowerTakeover

Wildflowers are bursting into bloom this spring all across Orange County! This colorful season also ushers in “National Wildflower Week”, a perfect time to celebrate and appreciate these vibrant flowers. To mark the occasion, the Irvine Ranch Conservancy (IRC) is hosting a special “Wildflower Takeover” on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks’ social media platforms.

Throughout this week-long virtual event, nature lovers are treated to daily images and videos from this season’s most vibrant blooms while learning fun facts about native wildflower species that call the Landmarks home. By following the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages, you can experience this season’s colorful spring flora and learn more about various wildflower characteristics that contribute not only to the beauty but the ecosystems of the Landmarks as well. 

Take a look at some of the important species already highlighted this week, including…

Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale)

Blooming from March to July, this plant plays a crucial role in providing essential pollen and nectar and attracting a plethora of insects needed for pollination. Similar to dandelions, its seeds are dispersed by the wind. During its first year of growth, the plant establishes its taproot and leaves. It then produces stunning blooms during the second year. The cobweb thistle is also known as a resilient plant that can grow from sea level to heights of 11,000 feet. 

Longleaf Bush Lupine (Lupinus longifolius)

The longleaf bush lupine is a native plant that mainly grows in coastal areas of California. It can grow up to 1.5 meters tall and produces stunning purple or blue flowers. Its flowers not only attract insects but also provide a vital food source for native pollinators. Interestingly, the longleaf bush lupine’s seeds have a hard outer coating that enables them to withstand harsh environmental conditions. 

Southern Bush Monkeyflower (Diplacus longiflorus)

Distinguished by its vibrant orange and yellow blooms that resemble a monkey’s face is the southern bush monkeyflower, also known as a sticky monkey flower due to its leaves producing a protective resin. Blooming from spring to early summer, this plant is native to the coastal regions of California and Oregon, thriving in sandy and rocky soils. These flowers attract hummingbirds and bees while also serving as host plants for specific butterfly species, promoting local biodiversity. Historically, indigenous tribes have also utilized southern bush monkeyflowers for their medicinal benefits. 

California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

California buckwheat, a beautiful plant known for its unique characteristics, has leaves that are leathery in texture, wooly underneath and have edges that roll under. During the early spring, clusters of pink to white and cream-colored flowers bloom. As the season progresses, these flowers transition into a pretty red rust color. What makes California buckwheat even more special is its appeal to native bees, butterflies and other pollinators. They are particularly attracted to this plant, making it a beloved choice for those wanting to support pollinator populations.

California Goldfields (Lasthenia californica)

A vibrant wildflower that can be found in California, Oregon and surrounding regions, California goldfields, is known to thrive in diverse habitats. As an annual herb, this species has various appearances depending on its location and climate. Most common, the plant has clusters of yellow flowers. During the spring season, vast populations of California goldfields burst into bloom, forming a thick blanket of yellow on hillsides and meadows, creating a breathtaking sight in the natural landscape.

Purple Owl’s Clover (Castilleja exserta)

The purple owl’s clover is a remarkable plant recognized for its pink-purple or lavender flower clusters. What sets it apart is the thin leaves that have the color just on the tip, resembling a paintbrush. Not only are they beautiful, but these vibrant flowers are a favorite among various bee, butterfly and moth species, solidifying its significance in supporting local pollinator populations.

Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)

The most prevalent sage species found in California is black sage. These shrubs can grow impressively tall, reaching heights of up to 6 feet and spreading wide to a length of 10 feet. While it may not be as pretty as other species, it plays a crucial role in supporting the local ecosystem. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds rely on the black sage as a food source. Plus, the small pale blue-lavender flowers hold great significance as they serve as an important food source for birds.

Take a look back at Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages to see what has already been posted this week. It’s not too late to join in on the fun, the “Wildflower Takeover” will end tomorrow so look out for another post to go live!