Yesterday we spent the day helping with data collection for a study on the restoration of pollinator habitats in California. Researchers have created different mixes of native wildflowers that are attractive to pollinators. From what I understand, one goal is to identify a mix of easy-to-manage plants that will support a diverse group of pollinators throughout the year.
We have four different plots planted with different mixes here at the PMC and a group of researchers came down to collect data. I was very excited to learn about the project and help out. My fellow CLM intern and I were set to work collecting data on flower counts across several transects through both mowed and unmowed areas. Around this time of year, poppies (Eschscholzia californica), sunflowers (Helianthus bolanderi), gumplants (Grindelia camporum), and madia (Madia elegans) are all in flower.
Madia was densely distributed throughout the unmowed areas in one of the plots. The plant is fragrant, can grow to about 2.5 meters in height, and is sticky. Very, very sticky. Navigating through the dense maze of madia with a quadrat was quite the challenge. By the time we were done with our sampling, we were covered in plant material and sticking to everything. It just serves as a reminder that although a plant may be highly beneficial and useful for some purposes (like attracting pollinators), there can be unforeseen challenges in managing that plant. Nonetheless, it was quite interesting to see some of the considerations that go into deciding which plants should be used for these projects.