Flowering After Fire

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Nature heals a burn scar with beautiful springtime blooms

On October 3, 2019 a half-acre brush fire charred the land off Rios trail. The local fire department extinguished the blaze and also saved the Gauntt family’s memorial bench (read Visiting Jimmy’s Bench).

Above: Habitat Restoration Intern, Linden Amundsen, observes small sprouts at the base of a shrub as part of our team’s analysis of regrowth, November 2019.

Revegetation was allowed to occur naturally and within two weeks, the first green sprouts were visible. Rabbits found the tender new sprouts delicious and reduced them. The seasonal rains then began at the end of November, with higher than usual rainfall in March and early April.

Above: Notice the fire scar with new vegetation.

During nature’s re-greening we made the discovery of two new native plants in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The Clasping venus looking glass (Triodanis perfoliata) came into bloom (featured photo by Elizabeth Venrick). It is native to California and is also found elsewhere in North America and beyond. Notice its delicate purple flowers.

Above: The second newly observed native species, Bishop’s lotus (Acmispon strigosus) can be seen here as the other ground-hugging greenish-gray plants. (Photo Elizabeth Venrick)

Reserve visitors are enjoying nature’s way of rebounding with lush spring growth from the trail that leads to Holmwood Canyon overlooking Rios Trail.

Above: When you tour this area look for native species of everlasting, evening primrose, and purple snapdragon, among other plants taking root. (Photo Elizabeth Venrick)

Above: Bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus). Flower hues range from salmon, through orange and bronze to deep red. Look for a monkey’s face in the flower!

Above: Nuttall’s snapdragon (Antirrhinum nuttallianum). The delicately veined purple and white lower flower lip is an effective bee landing platform. Like our scrub oak and our woodpecker, the plant is named for Thomas Nuttall, a naturalist who explored California between 1835 and 1836.

We hope you enjoy all the spring blooms in your nature tours and experiences. Wish to identify a bloom you see on the trails? Check out our Plant Guide by color.

Please stay safe and remember social distancing practices on trails you visit. Happy blooms!

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