Wild fennel

Santa Margarita River basin flowers still abound even if it is mostly dry right now.  Walking through the river basin showed a variety of foliage, even as dry as it is right now.  Besides the trees, grass and cactus, I found many kinds of flowers.  It wasn’t my thought I would find arid flowers, but it was surprising what appeared.  The tall, fragrant, yellow stands of fennel dominated the landscape in some areas.  While these are considered invasive since they are not native to southern California, they are pleasant smelling, add a welcome splash of color and apparently are good for cooking.  Might be something to try…

Wild fennel growing in a bend of the road, one of the many Santa Margarita River basin flowers.
Wild fennel growing in a bend of the road, one of the many Santa Margarita River basin flowers.

Chalk LiveForever (Dudleya)

A rather unusual-looking plant was the chalk liveforever, perched on cliffs next to the road.  This native plant has the subtle color and texture that blends it into the landscape.  The glowing rosettes looked like part of the cliff-side and I almost missed it at first.  The papery outer leaves contrast with the cooly smooth interior.  Earlier in the summer they also had stalks with small chains of flowers.

Dudleya or chalk liveforever makes a rosette flower and is native the the southwest US,, one of the many Santa Margarita River basin flowers.
Dudleya or chalk liveforever is native the the southwest, one of the many Santa Margarita River basin flowers.

White sage

Another native plant is the white sage.  It disappears as well into the landscape, its smooth, silvery leaves glowing among the other foliage.  This plant, like the fennel, is also aromatic.  These are two examples of the many fragrant plants in the southern California area.  There are many; a walk on the trails is like wandering through a spice cabinet.  Perhaps this is how they repel insects or other predators, but it creates a soothing aromatherapy effect which is very pleasant.

Black and white image of white sage growing by the side of the road, one of the many Santa Margarita River basin flowers.
White sage growing by the side of the road is native to the southwestern US, one of the many Santa Margarita River basin flowers.

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