Through our virtual programming series, Nature in your Neighborhood, we challenged volunteers to go out into their neighborhoods or backyards to see what plants sparked their interest. Whether plants are native or non native, we can all appreciate a connection to nature and the curiosity that it can spark!
By: Shannon Shams
Pink Jasmine - Jasminum polyanthum
Invasive / ornamental
Native to China and Myanmar - used by bees and hoverflies
Likely brought as a ornamental plant from China to the US and Europe
Plant produces hundreds of small white jasmine flowers in the springtime and has a pleasant fragrance. Flowers are edible and have been used in medicines for hepatitis and dysentery. The plant grows quickly and has been known to get out of hand if not trimmed regularly.
Bermuda Buttercup - Oxalis pes-caprae
Native to South Africa - extremely popular to bees
Likely transferred through soil contaminated by bulbs
My entire backyard is covered with these flowers and although they look nice and attract plenty of bees, they die early in the summer and it is difficult to remove the yellowed plant mass. Luckily my family does not mind the flowers, but complete eradication would be extremely difficult as the soil underneath the foliage is heavily contaminated with the bulbs of these flowers and I, from firsthand experience, can tell you that when attempting to remove these plants, it is nearly impossible to get the entire root and bulb out of the soil.
Musk Stork’s bill - Erodium moschatum
Native to Eurasia and North Africa - “associated with many species” (cabi.org)
Introduced accidentally from Mexico to California in the mid 1700s
The plant leaves are edible and when crushed, produce a green dye. An interesting quality of this plant can be noticed in the shape of its fruit, which are long, protruding, and beak-like. The flowers of this plant have a pleasant purple color.
Canary Islands Ivy - Hedera canariensis
Invasive / ornamental
Native to the Canary Islands slightly off the west coast of Morocco and Northern Africa - provides homes for small animals
Unknown arrival in California
From what I have seen, this plant grows relentlessly. Despite cutting the entire area down and covering the soil with rocks, this plant has still been able to grow in my backyard. During the many years before it was cut down, I noticed it had been home to hummingbirds’ nests and rather large lizards. Many say that it looks pleasant as an ornamental addition to fences or stone walls, however it must constantly be maintained because of its rapid growth.
Jade Plant - Crassula ovata
Originated in South Africa and brought to the US and Europe as a houseplant
Blooms in late winter to early spring
Occasionally will be used by bees
This plant will grow and remain alive despite extenuating circumstances. It can easily be propagated by simply breaking off a stem and placing it into a pile of soil. So long as that plant is not completely neglected, it has the potential to grow into a much larger jade plant. The flowers of this plant aren’t usually the main focus but rather the rich green color it reflects.