The Proof is in the Flowers

Have you ever volunteered on a Bolsa Chica Land Trust Stewards work day?  Have you donated to the Bolsa Chica Land Trust?  Do you wonder if your time and money are going to good use? If so, have you taken a stroll down the Mesa Trail at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve lately?  If not, you should! Because, the desert is not the only place in bloom after our winter rains.

All along the trail, the amazing native plants are blooming profusely.  You cannot miss the bright yellow faces of the California Bush Sunflower (Encelia californica).  The sages (Salvia spp.) are also blooming with their radial purple or white bloom clusters attracting their bee and hummingbird pollinators.   Speaking of hummingbirds, the Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea), with their own vibrant yellow flowers, entice both the hummingbirds and the photographers who capture the birds’ beauty.  

Do not forget to look down for the smaller flowers along the trail.  Here you will find the golden blooms of our state flower, the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica);  the small blue blossoms of Baby Blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii); the white and lavender flowers of the Miniature Lupine (Lupinus bicolor);  and, lastly, the sunny little blooms the Coastal Goldfields (Lasthenia californica). All these, and more, are waiting for you to discover their beauty as you stroll along the trail.

The Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve was not always this diverse with native blooms.  Twenty years ago, before the Bolsa Chica Land Trust Stewards started planting native plants for habitat restoration, the Mesa was one giant field of non-native, invasive Mustards –  including Common and Black Mustard (Brassica spp.) and Short-pod Mustard (Hirschfeldia incana).  Mustards and other invasive plants crowd out the native plants and are less inviting to native wildlife, leaving the ecosystem of the Mesa less diverse, less healthy, and less beautiful.  This year, however, marks the 21st anniversary of those initial efforts – and it is working!    The proof is in the smiles on people’s faces as they walk among the flowers, the proof is in the increase in abundance and diverse wildlife the photographers flock to see, and the proof is in the over 99% decrease in wild mustard on the Mesa Trail.

Bladderpod photo by Marinka Horack

But, and this is a big but, we could not have done any of this without volunteers giving hours and hours of their time, and members donating the funds it takes to run the Stewards Program year after year.  The Bolsa Chica Land Trust has bought all of the thousands of native plants you see on the Mesa from Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano, CA.  Volunteers have planted all those native plants with tools, gloves, drinking water, snacks and instruction needed to get the job done supplied by the Land Trust.  We also have purchased all the fresh water it takes to give these new plants the head start they need to survive the conditions against invasive non-native plants.   Each truck of water brings 2,000 gallons that volunteers use to hand water each new plant – that takes a lot of effort.  To date our volunteers have logged over 67,000 hours in the hard work of restoring the Mesa.

If you like the flowers and want us to continue restoring the Mesa to native habitats, please donate and become a member of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust today.  You can see your donation dollars hard at work on every walk!  Also, consider becoming a Steward and join us during our volunteer events doing the hands-on habitat restoration vital to the life of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve.



We hope to see you there!  We meet at 9am on the first Sunday and third Saturday of each month in the north parking lot.  Visit our volunteer page to learn more.



photos unless specified were taken by E. Chin

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