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Wildlife Spotlight: Chaparral Beargrass

PictureChaparral Beargrass

Within the bounds of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks lives an exceedingly rare plant called Nolina cismontana. This plant, commonly known as chaparral beargrass, is so rare that it is only known to grow within four counties in Southern California. There are thought to be no more than 20,000 chaparral beargrass specimens in the world!

Although its name and appearance might make you think otherwise, chaparral beargrass is not technically a grass but is a part of the lily family. The stalk of the plant can grow over three feet in height. Long, sharp, waxy leaves grow from the base of the plant, giving it the appearance of a grass. When flowering, small, white, densely clustered flowers bloom from the stalk. The plant is drought-resistant and requires little water.

Already low in numbers, chaparral beargrass face a variety of threats including the proliferation of invasive plants.  However, chaparral beargrass seems to have one advantage.  It is considered a “fire-follower”, or a plant that more easily regenerates and thrives following wildfire.

You can help ensure chaparral beargrass always has a home on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks by signing up for a stewardship activity today!