SoCal’s Wet Winter Brings Lots of Wildflowers and Many Weeds

While hundreds of thousands of Southern Californians are oohing and aahing the “super bloom” of wildflowers painting the region’s fields and hillsides, at least a few folks are ughing and arghing the dark side of recent drought-busting storms: weeds.

Naomi Fraga, director of conservation programs at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, checks for non-native weeds among flowering native plants in Phelan, Calif. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Along with scarlet monkey flowers, blue lupines and purple hyacinth, the rain has triggered a profusion of non-native vegetation with names like stink net.

Botanist Naomi Fraga walked along a dirt road in the southeastern San Gabriel Mountains on a recent weekday, scanning carpets of weeds trying to rob water and sunlight from the wildflowers.

“It’s kind of sad,” said Fraga, 37, director of conservation programs at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont. “The rains we’d all been praying for stimulated a spectacular bloom of poppies and peonies — and a crush of alien vegetation to match.”

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Storksbill is among the non-native weeds that have thrived after recent rains. (Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)