'The Beginning of the Beginning': Wildflowers Start Blooming

Popcorn flower | Photo: NPS
Already? Didn't fall color just end? Yes and yes; and before you get too excited, let's just say that this first batch might only be for the hardcore. Still, this is a slightly early bloom--you can probably thank that early October rainstorm--worth noting.

Botanist Tony Valois of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area says when the first annuals start blooming, it signals the "beginning of the beginning." Although his first report on the What's Blooming webpage is about perennials he saw on Saturday at Circle X Ranch, today by phone he said he spotted some annuals: Redstem filaree, a geranium, popcorn flowers and little clovers.

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Oddly, these flowers, which some may find "weedy," are best seen along roads right now. Valois explains that the heat produced by asphalt and the nitric oxide from cars--it acts as a fertilizer--actually aids their progress.

Valois warns that these are not blooms that will get many excited, but for those who are planning to hit the trails already, it's something to keep your eyes open for. As for the plants that do draw crowds--think the carpets of orange found at the California Poppy Reserve, which was a dud last season--he thinks the weather is off to a nice start for a good wildflower year, thanks to consistent rain so far. The huge amounts of rain last winter was not necessarily to blame for last year's lackluster show, but its inconsistent arrival probably was. Long dry spells in the winter have an effect, he says.

So keep your fingers crossed for an excellent season to come.

(Thanks to Sandy Steinman and her blog for tipping us off!)

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