Thanks to the contributions of two energetic people who know plants, chavezpark.org is publishing a complete botanical inventory of the park. Jutta Burger PhD is Lead Scientist for the California Invasive Plant Council, and Bob Huttar is a certified arborist and a consulting field biologist specializing in botany generally and rare plants in particular. Together they are photographing and identifying everything that grows in the park, both common and scientific names. They’ve done the scientific heavy lifting. I’m adding some background blog-talk. We’re publishing the results in a series, with a new installment every Friday.
Today’s featured plants have one thing in common: they’re additional species, not previously published, on top of the more than 100 species already found and photographed.
Here, to start with, is a tough plant ID problem:
The Black Sage and the Purple Sage look so similar that they themselves get confused and readily hybridize with each other and with Cleveland Sage, also found in the park. The clearest difference is that the Purple Sage tends to have light greyish leaves, while the Black’s leaves tend to be darker. Both are aromatic and have traditional herbal and medicinal uses. The Purple, in addition, has allelopathic qualities: it inhibits seedling growth of many other species of plants in its vicinity.
Soft Chess (Bromus hordeaceus) is a kind of grass. It trends to grow at low elevations in disturbed soil, where it squeezes out native grasses.
This is another grass in the Bromus species. Like its cousin Soft Chess, above, it grows in disturbed areas. The “rescue” part of the common name comes from its ability to come back quickly as forage after a severe drought or an exceptionally harsh winter.
Cutleaf plantain (Plantago coronopus) is also known as buckhorn plantain where it grows wild, as here. It likes growing close to the sea. Farmers in northern latitudes also cultivate it as a vegetable for salads, in which case it’s known as erba stella.
We conclude this week with plant that has a long history. It’s Black Nightshade, Solanum nigrum.
The Black Nightshade is not to be confused with the deadly nightshade, which is only distantly related. The berries and leaves of Black Nightshade are said to be toxic also, but are nevertheless used as food and medicine in traditional locales. Fossils of this plant have been found from the era before humans invented agriculture, suggesting that it was among the native flora at the time.
Next week: Still more species!