MEHER MOUNT

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road
Ojai, CA 93023-9375

Phone: 805-640-0000
Email: info@mehermount.org

HOURS

Wednesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

MANAGER/CARETAKERS

Buzz & Ginger Glasky

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sam Ervin, Preident
Ron Holsey, Vice President
Ursula Reinhart, Treasurer
Jim Whitson, Director
Richard Mannis, Director

OFFICERS

Margaret Magnus, Secretary

9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
Ojai, CA, 93023
United States

(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

Anecdotes, activities and stories about Meher Mount - past, present and future.

The Spring 'Super Bloom' Graces Meher Mount

Margaret Magnus

By Margaret Magnus

CALIFORNIA POPPIES ( Eschscholzia californica  ssp.  californica)  and a variety of the Popcornflower at Meher Mount looking south toward the Santa Monica Mountains and the Heritage Valley. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin, March 24, 2019)

CALIFORNIA POPPIES (Eschscholzia californica ssp. californica) and a variety of the Popcornflower at Meher Mount looking south toward the Santa Monica Mountains and the Heritage Valley. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin, March 24, 2019)

The Spring 2019 “super bloom” that is sweeping California following the generous winter rains is also gracing Meher Mount. Its appearance isn’t the massive and concentrated flowering of the desert blooms. Rather, it is the variety of wildflowers at Meher Mount that often appear only after abundant rains and sometimes specifically after a fire, such as the December 2017 Thomas Fire.

You might also say Meher Mount and the surrounding area are experiencing a “super green.” The emerald-hued rolling hills, steep mountainsides and valleys are a deep green, particularly in stark contrast to the ash-covered hillsides of 15 months earlier.

A BURNED AREA on the way to the well head at Meher Mount just after the December 4, 2017 Thomas Fire. (Photo: Sam Ervin, December 21, 2017)

A BURNED AREA on the way to the well head at Meher Mount just after the December 4, 2017 Thomas Fire. (Photo: Sam Ervin, December 21, 2017)

THE SAME GENERAL AREA at Meher Mount on the way to the well head, 15 months after the December 2017 Thomas Fire. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin, March 24, 2019)

THE SAME GENERAL AREA at Meher Mount on the way to the well head, 15 months after the December 2017 Thomas Fire. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin, March 24, 2019)

What makes a super bloom? “It happens when all the weather conditions are just right, and that means substantial rainfall in late fall and early winter, cool daytime temperatures, and cold nights,” according to California nature guide and author Ann Marie Brown.[1]

For fire-following plants, once areas have burned during a wildfire, there are specialized plant species that respond to environmental cues, such as charred soil, smoke, and increased sunlight, and emerge from the soil in areas scorched by fire. These “fire followers” begin their growth cycle soon after the fire is out, especially once the rains come.[2]

THE SUPER BLOOM AT MEHER MOUNT

The variety of wildflowers at Meher Mount became apparent during the native plant hike on Sunday, March 24, 2019, guided by botanist Rick Burgess of the Channel Islands chapter of the California Native Plant Society.

MEMBERS and guests of the Channel Islands chapter of the California Native Plant Society on Sunday, March 24, 2019, view the native plants and flowers at Meher Mount. (Photo: Sam Ervin)

MEMBERS and guests of the Channel Islands chapter of the California Native Plant Society on Sunday, March 24, 2019, view the native plants and flowers at Meher Mount. (Photo: Sam Ervin)

I had been looking forward to this hike to learn more about native plants, specifically those growing on Meher Mount. I was armed with pad and pen and my husband Sam Ervin and daughter Stephanie Ervin were there to learn and to take photos.

The hike started at the entrance to the Visitor Center. As the group took a few steps from the reception doorway, one hiker stopped in the walkway to ask about a small plant. At the time I was thinking, “Oh, that’s a ‘weed’ we need to clean up during the next volunteer weekend.”

The group stopped, looked, photographed and discussed this “weed” in the walkway. Then someone else turned to another nearby plant to ask about it. It was 10 minutes before we were on our way to Baba’s Tree to view the flowering plants in the meadow.

Then for the next three hours, the group examined the native plants at Avatar’s Point – including Baba’s Tree, a Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) – and later journeyed down the Well Road and along the back-access road stopping every few feet to examine and discuss the native species.

A MEHER MOUNT LIST OF NATIVE PLANTS 

CALIFORNIA PEONY ( Paeonia californica  ) was blooming for the native plant hike at Meher Mount led by Rick Burgess of the California Native Plant Society, Channel Islands chapter. (Photo: Sam Ervin, March 24, 2019)

CALIFORNIA PEONY (Paeonia californica ) was blooming for the native plant hike at Meher Mount led by Rick Burgess of the California Native Plant Society, Channel Islands chapter. (Photo: Sam Ervin, March 24, 2019)

Since, we had anticipated identifying maybe 15 to 20 native plants at most, I thought we could put together a straightforward, short list of plants. In fact, I was “worried” that the 20 people who came for the hike might be disappointed in the sameness and lack of variety.

Was I mistaken! After two-and-a-half hours, my head was spinning with all the plants and flowers we were seeing. Because the oak woodland at Meher Mount is intact, Burgess noted that it is “such a great place” for seeing native plants.

RED MAIDS ( Calandrinia ciliata ) are found in open areas of mostly woodland and grassland habitats. They were in bloom for the native plant hike at Meher Mount led by the California Native Plant Society, Channel Islands chapter on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin)

RED MAIDS (Calandrinia ciliata) are found in open areas of mostly woodland and grassland habitats. They were in bloom for the native plant hike at Meher Mount led by the California Native Plant Society, Channel Islands chapter on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Photo: Stephanie Ervin)

Hope of cataloging and photographing all the plants and flowers on this one hike became just a hope. A catalog is a project for a more trained naturalist or botanist. It’s still on the wish list to produce a guide that identifies the native plants and flowers at Meher Mount to help all visitors enjoy this abundance of plant life.

The following is a very partial list of some of the native plants seen on the hike: Common Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia); Purple Owl’s Clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. Exserta); Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus); Forget-Me-Not (Cryptantha intermedia); Whispering Bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora) (a fire follower); California Peony (Paeonia californica); Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum); Shepard’s Purse (Capsella burse-pastoris); Red Maids (Calandrinia ciliata); Rusty Popcorn Flower (Plagiobothrys nothofulvus); California Peony (Paeonia californica); Common Eucrypta (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia); Hedge Nettle (Stachys bullata); Fiesta Flower (Pholistoma auritum var. auritum); California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica ssp. californica); Giant Wildrye (Elymus condensatus); Peppergrass (Lepidium nitidum); California Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum); Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla); California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica); Heartleaf Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia),

ON THE LOOKOUT FOR INVASIVE PLANTS

INVASIVE Smilo Grass ( Stipa miliacea var. miliacea ) at the well head at Meher Mount. (Photo: Sam Ervin, March 24, 2019)

INVASIVE Smilo Grass (Stipa miliacea var. miliacea) at the well head at Meher Mount. (Photo: Sam Ervin, March 24, 2019)

On the hike, we also identified a few invasive species that need to be removed. To the untrained eye, many of the grass-type plants look similar.

Members of the group freely shared their expertise, and Andrea Adams Morgan pointed out the difference between a native grass and the invasive Smilo Grass (Stipa miliacea var. miliacea).

She works to identify invasives for some of the parks in the Carpinteria, CA, area, and Andrea urged us to remove Smilo Grass before it seeds and spreads. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden posted on its website that Smilo Grass is a species that should be eradicated when encountered on private property near wildlands.[1]

The group also noted the non-native, invasive Italian Thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus). According to Cal-IPC, the Italian Thistle tends to grow taller and be a better fire ladder than native species. It also harbors insect pests, which attack native thistles.[2] This thistle appeared in abundance in selected locations in Spring 2017 after the 2017 Thomas Fire. Volunteers have been monitoring and removing this plant for the past year at Meher Mount and will continue to do so this spring.


FOOTNOTES

[1] “How to See California’s 2019 Super Bloom,” Visit California, accessed March 26, 2019.
[2] “Fire Followers,” Los Padres Forest Watch, accessed March 26, 2019.
[3] Plant Assessment: Stipa miliacea var. miliacea, California Invasive Plant Council, accessed March 26, 2019.
[4] Plant Assessment: Carduus pycnocephalus, Calfiornia Invasive Plant Council, accessed March 26, 2019.


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