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:6/20/2016)... 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced that ... has secured the final acceptance by all three ... Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will have ... installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between legitimate ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, ... employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377487 ...
(Date:6/3/2016)... , June 3, 2016 ... Management) von Nepal ... und Lieferung hochsicherer geprägter Kennzeichen, einschließlich Personalisierung, ... führend in der Produktion und Implementierung von ... der Ausschreibung im Januar teilgenommen, aber Decatur ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... 27, 2016 , ... Rolf K. Hoffmann, former senior vice ... University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School effective June 27. , ... with a focus on the school’s international efforts, leading classes and participating in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Epic Sciences ... detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors by targeting ... cells (CTCs). The new test has already been ... in multiple cancer types. Over 230 ... damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ATR, DNA-PK ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... is pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target ... over 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... HOUSTON , June 23, 2016 ... agreement with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve ... of the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide ... education and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes ... partner with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: