It's officially spring! It's time to get outside and enjoy the wildflowers that are starting to appear. The best wildflower fields are in the back country on Figueroa Mountain and beyond, far from human disturbance. But it's convenient that many wildflowers are abundant right along the roads. Introduced weeds are common, but there are also many natives like poppies and lupines that thrive along our highways despite traffic and mowing and scraping. Wildlife follows. What environmental factors make the roadsides attractive for wildflowers and wildlife?
Arroyo Lupine (Lupinus succulentus) is a California native wildflower that is often abundant along local roads and highways, like this colony along rural Happy Canyon Road in the Santa Ynez Valley behind Santa Barbara. I shouldn't overstate my claim. Introduced weeds dominate along many roads and highways, but some natives hold their own. Introduced or native, these plants do well along our roads. And it's not just plants that favor roadsides. I regularly see once-endangered White-tailed Kites and other raptors as I drive to and from school. What environmental factors make the roadsides different for weeds, wildflowers, and wildlife?
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