New super bloom brings invasive weeds instead of wildflowers

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Since early March, Southern California residents have been treated to a rare explosion of wildflower blooms brought on by one of the wettest winters in years.

Now, park rangers in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area say that another round of growth is on the way, and it could potentially ravage the local ecosystem.

That’s because the new growth is dominated by non-native weeds that park officials have identified as particularly harmful to area wildlife. The invasive species siphon resources away from native plants, forcing them out of the area and affecting the habitats of local plants and animals. The weeds are also more likely to dry up in the summer months, providing fuel for wildfires.

Officials have narrowed the list of more than 300 non-native species present in the area to a group of the most persistent and dangerous offenders. They call them “the Evil 25.”

The most-wanted list includes heavies like periwinkle, bull thistle, and Russian knapweed. Park officials say that in Malibu, trails have been choked off by black mustard and carnation spurge, a “toxic relative” of the poinsettia plant.

To fight such fearsome opponents, park officials will need to assemble a team of top notch green thumbs to pull up weeds and replant native species. As such, a crew led by restoration ecologist Joey Algiers will host volunteer days twice a month on Saturday mornings for the next two months. To participate, prospective ecological guardians can email Algiers at joseph_algiers@nps.gov.

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