December Showers May Bring Rare Flowers


More than 2,000 of California’s approximately 6,500 native plant species have been listed as rare, threatened, or endangered. Many of these plants survive in California’s often dry climate by persisting as underground bulbs, roots, and corms during dry months and sending up stems, leaves, and flowers when rainfall is sufficient. Another common strategy is to complete an entire lifecycle in a year, sprouting from seeds during winter rains, flowering and producing seed for future generations, and fading away in the summer heat. When seasonal rainfall is inadequate, plants can remain dormant and seeds may not germinate, saving their energy for a future time when conditions are better. Plants using these adaptations are difficult to detect during drought because they exist as underground structures or as dormant seeds. For this reason, surveys for rare plants have not been recommended during the past several years. However, an El Niño event may bring significant rainfall to California during the 2014-2015 winter season, creating the conditions for which many of our native plants have been waiting. If that happens, ECORP botanists are ready to provide assistance with surveys, assessments, reports, and other rare plant needs.

For more information, please contact David Carr (Southern California) at (714) 648-0630 or Brian Mayerle (Northern California) at (916) 782-9100.