The Miracle Begins

All it takes is about half an inch of rain – and the miracle of spring in the chaparral and sagebrush plant communities begins. After the thunderstorm in early October, I saw fresh green leaves sprouting from Artemisia californica on my morning walk at foggy Lake Hodges yesterday. A month ago, most of these shrubs looked like they’re struggling or simply desiccated, dead twigs – and now some of them have formed inflorescences already. Nature’s renewal has begun, once more.

This is a charming combination we’re seeing right now: the Coyote bushes (Baccharis species) are just turning from flowers into fruits/seeds, and Slender Buckwheat is in bloom, while other plants which have long been in their summer dormancy are getting back to life. Artemisia californica for example is very quick to respond to precipitation, much like the Ocotillos in the desert!

It may seem odd to label this blog post with “spring” – but seasons in the conventional sense do not apply to our chaparral and sagebrush plant communities. The first rains of the season (the “water year” begins in October) mark the arrival of spring. And while Bushrue doesn’t grow along the trail I’ve been to yesterday, I’m eager to find out if the rain we had was enough already to awaken it out of its summery slumber as well.

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