"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 histori
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside