Navigation Links
California's wildflowers are disappearing, new book by UCR ecologist cautions
Date:6/18/2008

RIVERSIDE, Calif. At least since the late 18th century, invasive plant species introduced by humans have devastated California's botanical heritage by destroying native flora, resulting in bad pastures and posing a fire hazard, a new book by a UC Riverside ecologist explains.

"We need to recognize that California was not at all grasslands in the past," said Richard Minnich, the author of California's Fading Wildflowers, published this month by the University of California Press. "In the late eighteenth century, land all the way from San Francisco to San Diego was carpeted by wildflower pastures. Today these pastures have vanished, with brome grass taking their place."

Minnich's book gives a detailed account of how California's flora has changed since the arrival of Spanish explorers in the state in the 18th century. It explains in detail how the landscape of Hispanic California, the southern two-thirds of the state, was steadily transformed by humans.

"This book is an incredibly rich synthesis of history, plant geography, and landscape ecology, which its author uses to describe a place coastal and interior California that experienced in the past 200 years one of the most complete human-caused landscape transformations in the world," said Michael Barbour, a professor emeritus of plant sciences at UC Davis.

From entries about California's vegetation recorded by Franciscan missionaries and soldiers (1769-1776), Minnich determined that the landscape was covered with wildflower fields in the late 18th century, and that these pastures thrived especially well along the coast.

He reports in the book on how during the Gold Rush in the middle of the 19th century (1840 to 1880) non-Hispanic Europeans American, French and British explorers introduced European plants such as clovers, filerie, black mustard and wild oats that initiated the alteration of California's landscape.

"These non-native plants invaded the state's coastal areas," said Minnich, a professor of geography in the Department of Earth Sciences. "But inland, the natives continued to thrive and wildflowers continued to grow."

But then, from 1880 until the present, bromes, a new suite of invaders, took hold and spread rapidly in California, Minnich argues. "Newspaper articles and books from this period report that the bromes exploded throughout the state," he said. "Unlike the plants the Franciscans introduced, these bromes spread into the interior of California and replaced the wildflowers there."

His research for the book helped him determine that the bromes replaced the wildflowers in Los Angeles in the 1940s; in Riverside, Calif., in 1965; in southern San Joaquin Valley in the mid-1960s; and throughout the deserts of California in the 1970s and 1980s.

"California was a flower pasture once but in the past fifty years the flowers made their final collapse right in front of our eyes," he said. "Today, the wildflower situation in the state is bad. You hardly see them, and, when you do, they appear in patches here and there, not as meadows that once characterized the state."

According to Minnich, California wildflowers are also a "lost legacy." He argues that wildflowers were appreciated by the generations of the late 19th century: they were the topic of books and were institutionalized in floral societies that sprung up in all the local towns and weekend flower parties.

"The New Year's Rose Parade in Pasadena was the institutional outcome of the combined forces of southern California's floral societies," he said. "Indeed, a parade requirement to this day is that the floats must be entirely covered with flowers. But even this heritage has withered as the Rose Parade has lost sight of its historical baseline. As Los Angeles grew to cosmopolitan status, people became detached from the neighboring landscape. The long-believed bunchgrass theory, and its conversion to exotic grassland through overgrazing, encouraged people to take for granted the rapidly fading wildflower heritage."

Minnich emphasizes the need for California's policymakers to keep a big picture of the state in mind. "We need to go back to the landscape scale to understand how this land behaves. Our wildflowers are disappearing over time, and it is critical that we do whatever we can planned burnings at the broad scale, bringing in biological control to rid the land of bromes to restore the landscape and preserve our flower heritage."


'/>"/>

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Ecologist finds dire devastation of snake species following floods of 93, 95
2. Ecologists discover city is uber-forest for big owls
3. Ecologists, material scientists pursue genetics of diatoms elegant, etched casing
4. Ecologists tease out private lives of plants and their pollinators
5. Research cautions to catch-and-release in less than 4 minutes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
California's wildflowers are disappearing, new book by UCR ecologist cautions
(Date:8/15/2017)... Aug. 15 2017   ivWatch LLC , a medical device ... therapy, today announced receipt of its ISO 13485 Certification, the global ... International Organization for Standardization (ISO®). ... ivWatch Model 400 Continuous Monitoring device for the early detection of ... "This is an important milestone ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ITHACA, N.Y. , June 23, 2017 ... a leader in dairy research, today announced a new ... help reduce the chances that the global milk supply ... this dairy project, Cornell University has become the newest ... Food Supply Chain, a food safety initiative that includes ...
(Date:5/16/2017)... May 16, 2017  Veratad Technologies, LLC ( www.veratad.com ... age and identity verification solutions, announced today they will ... 2017, May 15 thru May 17, 2017, in ... International Trade Center. Identity impacts the ... in today,s quickly evolving digital world, defining identity is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/11/2017)... ... October 11, 2017 , ... Proscia Inc ... hosting a Webinar titled, “Pathology is going digital. Is your lab ready?” with ... adoption best practices and how Proscia improves lab economics and realizes an increase ...
(Date:10/11/2017)... Florida (PRWEB) , ... October 11, 2017 , ... ... Drug Administration (FDA) has granted orphan drug designation to SBT-100, its novel anti-STAT3 ... for the treatment of osteosarcoma. SBT-100 is able to cross the cell membrane ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... DALLAS , Oct. 10, 2017 International research firm ... IoT Strategy, will speak at the TMA 2017 Annual Meeting , ... key trends in the residential home security market and how smart safety ... ... "The ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... October 09, 2017 , ... The award-winning American Farmer television series ... 2018. American Farmer airs Tuesdays at 8:30aET on RFD-TV. , With global population ... challenge of how to continue to feed a growing nation. At the same time, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: