Have you spotted the ocellated Humboldt lily lately? Ocellated Humboldt lily is a rare plant that is native to Southern California, ranging from Santa Barbara County to the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County. It loves to grow in shady areas along intermittent streams, canyons, and riparian oak woodlands. It is a tall and stout plant with large and showy golden flowers with maroon spots that point downward, which makes it easy for the Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly to feed on the nectar.
Ocellated Humboldt lily flowers in June (right now!) and is flowering in large amounts in canyons within the Woolsey Fire burn area. Because it is such a showy, beautiful flower, it is subject to collection by flower lovers. But as with all native plants, these should not be collected. Flowers are a plant’s means of reproduction, and collecting flowers means that the plants won’t be able to set seed for the next generation. This issue is especially relevant this year, following the Woolsey Fire. The fire and the rainy season that followed, have provided an exceptional set of conditions for native plants to germinate and flower. Many of these species haven’t been observed in such abundance for many decades. Their seeds have lain dormant in the soil for years, and with the amount of rain and prolonged opportunities for germination, much of that seed bank may now be spent. This may be the only time in our lifetimes that we will have an opportunity to witness such a bloom, and the only time in our lifetimes that these plants will have such an opportunity to produce massive amounts of seeds in preparation for some future fire or other type of disturbance.
If you love flowers and the natural landscapes of Los Angeles County, please take only pictures and leave only footprints!
References and pictures: Joe Decruyenaere