[Fosc] Rethinking Native Grassland Plantings
weitzs at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 19 22:36:49 PDT 2008
I am in the middle of reading a new book published just this year
(2008) by Prof. Richard Minnich, UC Riverside. His book is
"California's Fading Wildflowers: Lost Legacy and Biological Invasions.
His thesis is that pre-hispanic coastal california from San Diego to
San Francisco (including Oakland) and much of the central valley were
herbaceous wildflower ecosystems, and not the native bunchgrass
ecosystem thesis made popular during the dust bowl times of the
earlier 20th century, and taught as gospel in college classes.
You may want to read this book published by UC Press. It may
radically change the way you plant in "grassland" areas here, even if
not changing how you plant in a riparian area. Perhaps, we may not
have had any "bunchgrass grasslands" to begin with. This may be why
it has been so hard to find "native" bunchgrass ecosystems. It's hard
to find something that may not have been around much to begin with.
He includes important observations made by the first spaniards to
travel on foot in our area.
Near Oakland: "very green and flower strewn, with an abundance of
lilies. A little north they wrote "the fields are as green with herbs
and as thickly covered with wildflowers as those further
back" (Oakland). They said they had seen wildflowers for several
days over more extensive lands than he had seen that day. Near
Richmond they saw "ten heathen.... adorned with plumes and garlands of
One of my favorites, of course, the famous quote by John Muir about
the central valley: "The Great Central Plain of California, during
the months of March, April, and May, was one smooth, continuous bed of
honey-bloom, so marvelously rich that, in walking from one end of it
to the other, a distance of 400 miles, your foot would press a hundred
flowers at every step."
This does not sound like native bunchgrasslands! Very herbaceous!
So anyway, you don't need to believe me, but you might want to see
what this Prof has to say.
Stephen Weitz in Oakland
"It's a question of discipline," the little prince told me later on.
"When you've finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend
from: The Little Prince
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