Native Plant Restoration

Open Space Sausalito has begun a native plant restoration project at the Saucelito Creek Wildlife Refuge (SCWR) and now has over seventy plants and counting. We hope to reach over 1,000 native plants over the next five to ten years, gradually replacing invasive, non-natives plants with those that thrive and attract more birds, butterflies, and bees to the site, being careful not to disrupt the wildlife. We hope you will support this project, a gift to Sausalito’s history and our native plants and wildlife.


Accomplishments

  • Over 3,000 cubic feet of French Broom removed
  • Over 1,000 square feet of Himalayan Blackberry cleared
  • Over 70 native trees, perennials and shrubs planted

All of this work has been done by volunteers.


Photos of the Restoration Project


Western Goldenrod, California Fuchsia, Seaside Daisy, Five Spot, Pink Seathrift, Coyote Mint, Aster chilensis plus Common Rush, and Evening Primrose.


The photos below all show the same plot of land we are using for our test plants.

April 2018 – French Broom cleared


December 2018 – Deer fencing and first plants


April 2019 – early Spring growth


June 2019


August 2019

The empty spaces between the plants will be filled in over the next few years as some of these plants reach six feet or more in diameter, and as we plant more perennials.


Clearing Himalayan Blackberry and Our Second Planting

Clearing the Himalayan Blackberry was done by hand using a hedger, rake, shovel, and, yes, a pick-axe. Most of it was done between February and May 2019. Planting took place in early September.


Goals

The goals of the native plant restoration are to:

  • Improve the riparian habitat to attract species that thrive in this ecosystem.
  • Attract Monarch butterflies, and attempt to attract Mission Blue butterflies as well as other butterflies.
  • Attract bumblebees.
  • Recruit species of special concern and species suffering habitat loss such as the Red-Legged Frog, the Monarch butterfly, bumblebees, and possibly the Mission Blue butterfly.
  • Create more nesting areas for birds.
  • Gradually replace non-native French Broom, Himalayan Blackberry, and English Ivy with native plants which will provide better food sources and homes for the native animals in the area.

History So Far

  • Spring 2018 – the project began with the clearing of a great deal of invasive French Broom from the meadow area.
  • Late Fall 2018  – we constructed a 20′ by 25′ deer fence where some of the French Broom had been removed, and planted over thirty native shrubs and perennials.
  • Spring 2019  – we cleared over 1,000 square feet of Himalayan Blackberry.
  • Fall 2019  – we constructed a second deer fence pen in the cleared Himalayan Blackberry field and planted over 35 additional native shrubs and perennials.

What’s So Bad About Non-Native Plants?

The current mixture of native and non-native plants is part of a thriving ecosystem with over 20 species of nesting birds. It is a home for deer and many smaller mammals, and a visiting site for dozens of migrating bird species. So why worry about non-native plants?

Our non-native Himalayan Blackberry, French Broom and English Ivy do provide some benefits. Himalayan Blackberry and English Ivy are both food sources for deer, and Himalayan Blackberry is a protective nesting site for some small birds, for example, and ivy prevents erosion on the hillside. However, native plants will provide the same benefits and more without the following drawbacks:

    • Almost all birds feed only insects to their young, and many adult birds also rely on insects for their food. But non-native plants either do not attract insects or they attract insects that many native wildlife don’t consume. By limiting the types of insects at a site, non-native plants limit the native wildlife species at the site.
    • French Broom is neither a food source nor a nesting site for birds. Its leaves and seeds are toxic, and it degrades habitat by changing microclimate conditions at soil levels.
    • Himalayan Blackberry is a poor food source for birds particularly compared to native plants.
    • English Ivy wraps itself around entire trees, slowly depriving them of nutrients and water until they lose their branches and eventually topple over.
    • All three plants are extremely aggressive and rapidly fill whatever available land they’re compatible with. They crowd out native plants that would otherwise provide an excellent source of food and homes, plants which the native wildlife co-evolved with and adapted to.

Since invasive non-native plants out compete native plants the result is sections of land dominated by a small number of plants which in turn reduces the wildlife diversity at these locations.

While the SCWR is already a rich habitat, it can be even better, a home for more types of wildlife including bees, butterflies, and more species of riparian birds.


Plants and Photos

To see stock photos and attributes of over 40 Marin native plants we selected to attract Monarch and Mission Blue butterflies, bees and birds see our Plants Document.

Plants to attract Monarch butterflies:

  • Blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
  • Buck Brush Ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus)
  • California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)
  • Common Sandaster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia)
  • California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)
  • Common Woolly Sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum)
  • California Goldenrod (Solidago velutina)
  • Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa)
  • Mulefat or Coyote Brush (Baccharis salicifolia)
  • Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
  • Golden Fleece (Ericameria arborescens)

 

Blueblossom Ceanothus, Buck Brush Ceanothus, and Coyote Mint (stock photos)


Plants to attract Mission Blue butterflies:

  • Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
  • Summer Lupine (Lupinus formosus)
  • Manycolored Lupine (Lupinus variicolor)

Silver Lupine, Summer Lupine, Manycolored Lupine (stock photos)


Plants to provide nesting and food for birds:

  • Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)
  • Franciscan Manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana)
  • Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica or Frangula californica ssp. californica)
  • Blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
  • Buck Brush Ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus)
  • Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
  • California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. fasciculatum)
  • Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
  • California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)

 

Huckleberry, California Buckwheat, Franciscan Manzanita (stock photos)


Plants to attract bees:

  • California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum var. fasciculatum)
  • Deerweed (Acmispon glaber)
  • Franciscan Manzanita (Arctostaphylos franciscana)
  • Coffeeberry (Rhamnus californica or Frangula californica ssp. californica)
  • Blueblossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)
  • Buck Brush Ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus)
  • Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons)
  • Monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
  • California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)
  • Common Sandaster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia)
  • Common Woolly Sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum)
  • Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus)

Deerweed, Monkeyflower, Blue Wildrye (stock photos)