|Striped adobe lily in March 2013|
|Striped adobe lily in 2014|
Last year, despite mediocre rainfall, we wound up having a pretty nice spring in the San Joaquin Valley. We were the beneficiaries of several December storms on the San Joaquin side of the ranch. Throughout the San Joaquin fringe, Tejon Hills, and Old Headquarters we were pleased to see extensive color and blooms of some of our rare taxa, such as striped adobe lily (Fritillaria striata), Comanche Point layia (Layia leucopappa), and Tejon poppy (Escholzia lemmonnii ssp. Kernensis). 2014 in contrast has only yielded brown fields with green highlights.
|The "Tejon Milky Way" on April 1st, 2013|
|The "Milky Way" on April 9th, 2014|
So, what does the state of drought in California tell us about the extent of wildflower blooms in the region? The answer as far as I can tell, is nothing, which complicates my heretofore simplistic understanding of precipitation dynamics. Until now, my assumption had always been that if we receive a lot of rain in winter, there will be a lot of flowers in spring. If there is little rain in the wintertime, no flowers should germinate in the springtime.
|Looking south towards Cordon Ridge on April 1st, 2013|
|Same view as above, but on April 9th, 2014|
BUT many of the plants we count on to produce spring wildflowers are annuals. Their life span can be as short as just a few months and flowering is only a fraction of their life history. We would be remiss to mention the vast diversity of these plants, too. Over 2400 species of wildflowers are native to California. Naturally, their blooms are highly variable. From what we can tell, some species will bloom heavily in certain specific conditions, while others require completely different sets of circumstances to be dominant.
|After a non-blooming year in 2013, the Antelope Valley was painted with color in 2014|
|Pescado Creek had fabulous displays from March-May 2014|
|Poppies persisted through may in the Antelope Valley. Photo courtesy of Chuck Noble|
|Photo courtesy of Chuck Noble|
Whether we wind up experiencing El Nino for the 2014-2015 rain year or not, we are unlikely to escape the throes of this current drought. However, if the timing is right for our rains, we might end up with a great wildflower year. At least that’s some form of consolation!
|Hopefully spring 2015 will give nice flowers to enjoy throughout Tejon Ranch. Photo courtesy of Chuck Noble|