L.A.'s Super Bloom

April 4, 2017

Are some of your friends posting selfies and artful Instagram pics of wildflower scenes? Undoubtedly, the answer is yes. After five+ years of drought in Southern California, we are experiencing a spectacular seasonal wildflower show all over the Southland. Here are some pictures taken by Museum staffers on their recent Spring wildflower adventures:

Head Gardener Richard Hayden recently visited Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Here's a compilation of some of the wildflowers he found in bloom there.

Anza Borrego #superbloom montage. Photo by Richard Hayden @naturegardener

Curious to know what they are? Here's a quick rundown, top to bottom, left to right:

If you're into our State Flower, the California poppy, check out Lead Gardener, Daniel Feldman's photo from the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

A field of golden California poppies, Eschscholzia californica. Photo by Daniel Feldman @deejayeff

Maybe you are looking for some celestial flower inspiration. Out on the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecologial Preserve, just along the trail to the vernal pools (seasonal ponds) I found a patch of purple shooting stars, Primula clevelandii (formerly Dodecatheon clevelandii). Making sure not to step on any flowers, I crouched down on the path and snapped this photo.

A field of shooting stars. Photo by Lila Higgins @colilaoptera

If you're looking for blooms closer to home, look no further than the trees on your street. Jann Vendetti, our Museum Malacologist (she studies snails and other mollusks), has been getting to know her street trees. Below are some of the flowering trees she's been seeing lately:

Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis, native to western North America and planted as a street tree, bee pollinated, attracts hummingbirds. Photo by Jann Vendetti.


American sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, native to eastern North America and planted as a street tree, wind pollinated. Photo by Jann Vendetti.


Pink trumpet tree, Handroanthus impetiginosus, native to eastern Central and South America and planted as a street tree, bee pollinated. Photo by Jann Vendetti.
(Left) California coast live oak, Quercus agrifolia, native to California and planted as a street tree, wind pollinated. (Right) Carrotwood tree, Cupaniopsis anacardioides, native to Australia and planted as a street tree, bee pollinated. Photos by Jann Vendetti.

Or maybe you want to stop by the Museum and check out the blooms in the Nature Gardens. Museum Volunteer Program Manager Elizabeth Andres took a break from sitting at her desk and wandered outside in the Nature Gardens and found this beautiful California lilac, Ceanothus cyaneus, in bloom. If you can't find the time to head out to Anza Borrego, or other wildflower hot spots, why not plan a trip to the Museum to see what's blooming?

Sierra blue, California lilac blooming in the Museum's Nature Gardens. Photo by Elizabeth Andres @libbyteal

**Special thanks to Carol Bornstein, Director of the Museum's Nature Gardens, for her plant identification help. 

(Posted by: Jann Vendetti and Lila Higgins)

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Blooming Agaves

February 11, 2012

More plant news from the North Campus. Recently some of our blue lotus agaves, Agave ceslii 'Nova', have begun to bloom. This is an impressive sight as these plants send forth long spikes, (between four and six feet long), that look a lot like giant asparagus stalks. This type of agave is monocarpic, meaning that it only flowers once, and this particular selection happens to flower at a relatively young age compared to other species. Incidentally, the genus is commonly called century plant because it can take decades for them to flower. The entire stand of this agave (approximately eight plants) is flowering at the same time, because they were all propagated from the same tissue culture, which is a common nursery practice for certain landscape plants. Although flowering signals the end of the plant's lifespan, we can expect to enjoy the flowers and fruits for the next several months!

Agaves reaching up to the floss silk treeThere are over 300 species of agave in the world, with 100 species native to North America. This large array of species includes well known agaves such as the tequila or blue agave, Agave tequilana, and the sisal or hemp agave, A. sisalana. Other species are also farmed to produce agave nectar, which is sweeter than sugar and honey. The blue lotus agaves we have planted are native to Mexico and are becoming more common in the nursery trade. As with all agaves, the flower stalks possess literally hundreds if not thousands of individual blossoms, which are visited by many kinds of pollinators. The flowers will be a pale yellow color and will hopefully attract the numerous Anna's and Allen's hummingbirds that are already resident in Exposition Park. Unlike other agave species, the ones planted on the North Campus will not attract mammalian nocturnal pollinators, aka bats, which is a shame since we will be very soon putting up a bat box (more on that to come later)!

Four stately stalks!Stop by the North Campus and check them out today! They are close to the Dueling Dinos on the North side of the Car Pak along Exposition Boulevard.

(Posted by: Lila Higgins)

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Beneath the Perch

June 23, 2017