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Native Plants in Alameda Island

We are very excited to partner with Dolby Laboratories for a special Nature in your Neighborhood project for Dolby Cares Week. A time when Dolby brings art and science together to inspire the next generation of innovators, and address the most critical needs in their communities. Thank you for contribution to Sutro Stewards!

By: Anne Bidwell

As part of the Dolby Cares volunteering program, I sauntered over to the Crown Beach/Crab Cove area in Alameda to see how well the East Bay Regional Parks group was doing with their native planting.

My focus was on an area which in the past four years they removed the dandelion strewn greenery and relandscaped with plants, sandy paths, and an old dingy. Would they beat my yard in which I found only three native plants? Yes, they did! Turns out almost all of the new plants are native and thriving.


California flannelbush, aka california fremontia- California Native

Fremontodendron californicum

I’ve often admired this bush walking through the park due to its autumn colors in the middle of Spring.

It has leaves with a bit of fuzz on them and when it blooms is loaded with yellow flowers. The bushes I viewed were all about twelve feet high though they can get up to twenty feet high and wide in the right conditions.

While it’s not edible to humans and its leaves can irritate skin and eyes, it does attract bees and butterflies.

This shrub likes a well-draining sandy soil and thrives with not being watered in the summer due to its long roots. In fact, it can die if its owner insists on watering it during the summer. In order to propagate in nature, the seeds require fire. Native Americans in California used the wood for building and the bark for acorn nets and snare hunting.

Drama, spring color, and refuses summer watering—this is my kind of plant!

Seaside Fleabane, aka seaside daisy or beach aster- California and Oregon native

Erigeron glaucus

This little daisy always catches my eye due to its vibrant blossom and how sturdy the little dude seems. Since it’s a fairly low-lying plant the bloom colors really pop in contrast to the ground color.

On flat terrains it prefers full sun to partial shade. Additionally, it likes sandy soil on bluffs, dunes, and beaches while on steep slopes, such as ocean facing cliffs, it favors clay. In any location it will attract bees and butterflies while deterring deer.

This daisy can be propagated by divisions, cuttings, or by seed. Once established, it wants a couple of waterings a month in the summer to remain healthy.

Black Sage

Salvia mellifera

To me, sage has one of the most appealing scents, especially in the wild. I love rubbing the leaves on walks to give a boost to my mood.

The black sage is the most common sage in California, running up and down the coast. During a draught the leaves will curl up rather than drop off which can help reduce panic in an amateur gardener.

The flowers produced can be white, pale blue, lavender, or a rare pale rose and are a favorite of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Aside from being a pollinator favorite, deer do not enjoy this sage which is a boon for gardeners. These flowers produce a fruit which each contain 1 – 4 seeds.

The Chumash people (San Luis Obispo through Los Angeles) used the leaves and stems to make a sun tea as a pain reliever, less for ingesting and more for rubbing on a painful area (ex. the feet). Additionally, a strongly flavored honey can be made when enough nectar is produced.

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