Plants Growing Along San Diego County’s Trails
In 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: San Diego (60 Hikes – Menasha Ridge), Sheri McGregor points out and describes many of the plants you’ll see along the way. These pictures, taken on San Diego’s trails, will also help you with identification.
From the lily family, this pretty, foot-tall flowering plant grows from “corms,” which are like a small bulb. When they flower in spring on very thin stalks, the blooms look as if they’re floating on air.
This hardy evergreen shrub loves a dry area and full sun. Growing to around 4-feet, it blooms in soft lavender colored cup-like flowers.
Bush Monkey Flower
Many varieties of the drought-tolerant monkey flower grow in San Diego County. One variety grows several colors on one bush. The 3 to 4 foot bush blooms spring through fall, and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
The California Fuchsia makes a beautiful little heads of 2 to 3 feet tall, with bright red blooms in the fall that hummingbirds love — a garden plus. The plant spreads by way of underground shooters, so be wary of it taking over a small spot.
Planted in rows, this large shrub can make a beautiful hedge or wind break. However, the plant’s oil content can contribute to the spread of wildfire, so it may or may not be right for your yard. Its clusters of small white flowers blooming in summer are reminiscent of weddings. Butterflies especially love the blooms. Because of its good root structure, chamise is also a good shrub for a hill or bank where erosion is a problem.
Hooker’s Evening Primrose
Despite the showy nature and the fact that this flower comes out at night, Hooker’s Evening Primrose is named after the scientist who discovered it rather than the tawdry definition we may associate with the name. The bush spreads some on the ground, and the stalk shoots up to 6 ft or so, full of blooms. Drought tolerant, this plant is very easy to grow.
Fuchsia Flowered Gooseberry
Similar to the California Fuchsia, this much larger shrub has a difference you’ll need to note — it has thorns! The gooseberries follow fall/winter blooms, and are edible. Grows to around 8 feet. Plant where it can be given a wide berth . . . perhaps near a rear window of an little-frequented area of the yard, where you can watch the hummers enjoy the nectar.
This fried egg looking flower looks like a smaller cousin of the lovely Matilija Poppy. The thorns on the prickly poppy make it more of a wicked stepsister, though. For dry banks and unused areas where color is needed, this is an easy-to-grow choice that will easily spread on its own (which might not be a positive).
Just one of the many varieties of sage that grow in San Diego County. Butterfly attractors, sages are a lovely, scented addition to any garden (and hardy/drought tolerant)!
Ok, so this one isn’t drought tolerant, instead preferring a boggy area. It grows plentifully in one section of my yard, right up through the grass, offering wafts of its pleasant, slightly medicinal scent. In winter, the plant dries to an ugly brown mat … but guess what? Run over it with the mower a few times to get rid of the drab dormant stems, and in spring, yerba mansa will rise again.
Sheri McGregor is available for speaking engagements, TV, radio, and author events. Contact Tricia Parks, Director of Marketing for Menasha Ridge Press, 205-322-0439 ext. 102, or email Sheri directly.