Yesterday we showed you a few of our native plants that are starting to set seed, plants that we hope will continue to grow and fill in over the years.  Unfortunately, we also have a number of uninvited guests that like to call Curbstone Valley home.  I’m not talking about the occasional errant dandelion or tufts of clover in a lawn.  Our undesirables are rather more thuggish, and prolific.  They didn’t just drop by unannounced, they downright moved in, commandeered the remote control, wiped out the contents of the refrigerator, and changed the locks!

The most challenging invaders to identify here are the grasses.  Most of them were simply green and blade-like in spring, but they’re now starting to reveal their unique awns and seeds that will help us to determine whether or not they should stay.

Briza maxima (Big Quaking Grass)  Cal-IPC statewide impact: Limited


One of more attractive grasses, Briza maxima, is an introduced species

Briza minor Cal-IPC statewide impact: Not Determined


A cousin to the grass above, Briza minor has dainty, almost heart-shaped seeds

Bromus tectorum (Downy brome) Cal-IPC statewide impact: High


This Brome is particularly bothersome, smothering entire banks and hillsides if given the chance

Cynosurus echinatus (Dogtail Grass) Cal-IPC statewide impact: Moderate


Also known as hedgehog dogtail grass, Cynosurus echinatus has attractive seed heads

Geranium robertanium (Robert’s Geranium)  Cal-IPC statewide impact: Not Determined


Just one of a number of non-native geranium species here, Geranium robertanium is particularly prolific in areas with partial shade

Hordeum murinum (Foxtail Barley) Cal-IPC statewide impact: Moderate


Pet owners beware, the awns of Hordeum murinum, and related species, can cause significant harm to pets

Take note, this particular plant is potentially dangerous to pets. The awns can lodge in the skin, oral, ocular, nasal or auricular cavities, and can result in severe infections, and occasionally death.

Myosotis latifolia (Forget-me-not)  Cal-IPC statewide impact: Limited


Many love forget-me-nots, Myosotis latifolia, but near creeks and waterways this species can become particularly problematic

Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy) Cal-IPC statewide impact: Not Determined


An escaped cultivar, Papaver somniferum is becoming naturalized in some counties in California. This plant was a volunteer presumably brought from a neighboring property by birds.

Polypogon monspeliensis (Rabbit’s foot grass) Cal-IPC statewide impact: Limited


The seed heads of Polypogon monspeliensis are quite attractive, and on average are at least the size of my thumb!

Torilis arvensis (Hedge Parsley) Cal-IPC Statewide impact: Moderate


Appearing innocent in bloom, Torilis arvensis becomes bothersome in early summer, forming thousands of tiny sticky burrs that stick to almost...EVERYTHING!

This particular intruder is highly invasive in laundry. Clothes that have never been worn outside, if washed with clothes worn in the garden, emerge from the laundry covered in spiky annoying little burrs.  However, the burrs don’t seem to bother this small Lupine Blue butterfly (Plebejus lupini).


A blue gossamer-wing butterfly, Plebejus lupini, rests on the awns of Torilis arvensis

Vicia sativa ssp. sativa (Spring Vetch, Common Vetch) Cal-IPC statewide impact: Not Determined


One of a number of vetch species here, Vicia sativa seeds are toxic to poultry

Vicia villosa ssp. villosa (Winter Vetch, Hairy Vetch) Cal-IPC statewide impact: Not Determined


Hairy vetch, Vicia villosa, is the most common vetch species found here

Despite the low concern from the Cal-IPC, as many species of vetch are toxic to poultry, the removal of these plants will have high priority here for the safety of our free-ranging chickens and turkeys.

Unfortunately, thus far, we have yet to conclusively identify any native grasses growing here, but we’ll persevere.  We’re sure they’re here somewhere, we just need to improve our grass identification skills.  The average urban gardener would no doubt gasp at the thought of intentionally allowing our grassy weeds to go to seed.  For us though, we’re much more concerned with not removing a native species by mistake, in haste.

By taking the time to identify species, and determining whether or not a non-native species is aggressive or invasive, it helps us to prioritize our plan for their removal.  Those with California Invasive Plant Council designations of moderate to high will be focused on first, as generally speaking they are also the most pervasive species here.

Obviously as many are now setting seed, removing these intruders from the property will be a process, and it will take both time, and perseverance.  Not only involving physical removal, but also requiring the reintroduction of native species to help reduce the chance of their return.

My idea of gardening is to discover something wild in my wood and weed around it with the utmost care until it has a chance to grow and spread.
–   Margaret Bourke-White