Plant communities have secrets. Some we know, most we do not. They have to do, among other things, with plant interactions with insects, birds, and mammals. Some are of staggering complexity. In too many cases, we glimpse the mystery only as the plants vanish before our eyes.
Not only do plants connect with other living organisms in the soil, but also in the ways that they feeds, shade, and shelter myriad creatures, regarding the details of which interactions we are about as sophisticated as a kindergardener is about the workings of a computer.
We need to save all the pieces of the puzle, hence our offerings of some of the less obviously showy plants, such as Coast plantain, Plantago subnuda, California beeplant, Scrophularia californica, or California horkelia (Horkelia californica). In the particular kind of soil found under an old-growth coyote bush, in the small mammal-created pathways around a creosote bush, in the mycorrhizal connections found between root and soil, clues to the mystery are found.
Our native plant communities and the ecological network they support are under relentless attack from numerous weedy species, such as: African veldt grass, poison hemlock, French, Scotch and Spanish broom, Algerian, English, and Cape ivy, pampas grass, teasel, fennel - that's enough for now. You can hardly do anything more supportive of the natural world that surrounds you than to harass and uproot these weedy species that know no bounds in the supportive environment of California.
For self-education, we recommend our books and our Notes on Natives Series.Original post: February 21, 2016