purple owls clover

Removing invasive plants and weeds is a large part of the restoration work that takes place in our preserves. This can be challenging, since some invasive species look similar to California natives. Help us protect native plants—become a community scientist and record your observations in the free iNaturalist or Calflora apps. This information helps us monitor the open space lands and identify areas of concern.

Please do not pull any plants on Midpen lands — we follow a strategic plan when dealing with invasive species and removing plants can actually spread the growth of unwanted species.

Native plant and their non-native look-alikes. Can you tell the difference?

January

NATIVE
California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica)

California Bay Laurel

  • Broad-leaved evergreen tree
  • Height: 25-40 feet, old trees can reach 100 feet
  • Creamy white-yellowish flowers bloom April - September
  • Nicknamed “pepperwood,” because of the pepper scent, dried leaves are used in cooking.

NONNATIVE

Blue Gum Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)

Blue Gum Eucalyptus

  • Tree with long, waxy blue leaves
  • Height: 150-180 feet
  • White flowers bloom October - March
  • Fruit, leaf and bark litter is extremely flammable 

February

NATIVE
California Blackberry (
Rubus ursinus)

California blackberry

  • Upright, sprawling vine or shrub
  • Typically has three leaflets
  • White, fragrant flowers bloom February - May
  • Valuable for preventing soil erosion at disturbed sites due to its ability to grow in infertile soils

NONNATIVE

Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus)

Himalayan Blackberry

  • Sprawling, evergreen shrub
  • Typically has five leaflets and large thorns 
  • White/light pink flowers bloom April - August
  • Rapidly displaces native plant species by producing dense canopy and limiting sunlight for understory plants

March

NATIVE
Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)

Pacific Bleeding Heart

  • Perennial herb in the poppy family
  • Delicate, fern-like leaves
  • Rose-purple to cream flowers bloom March - May
  • Provides excellent habitat and food supply for birds and insects

NONNATIVE
Herb Robert (Geranium purpureum)

Herb Robert

  • Leaves are light green and turn red in late fall
  • Strong smell of diesel and mint when crushed
  • Pink flowers bloom March - May
  • Escaped from ornamental plantings, displaces native plants in forested communities as groundcover

April

NATIVE
California Aster (Symphyotrichum chilense)

California Aster

  • Grows in grassland, meadows, salt marshes, costal dunes and costal scrub habitats
  • Deep, fibrous root systems help with erosion control
  • Violet/pink or white flowers with yellow centers bloom July - August
  • Excellent pollinator plant, provides pollen for bees and nectar for checkerspot and crescent butterflies

NONNATIVE
Ox-Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Ox-Eye Daisy by Dr Nick V. Kurzenkeo

  • Found in roadsides, pastures, grassland, coastal scrub and open forests
  • Rosette leaves grow up to 6 inches long
  • White daisy flower with yellow centers bloom May - August
  • Invasive perennial herb from Europe that grows densely and excludes other vegetation

May

NATIVE
Blue Wildrye (Elymus glaucus)

Blue Wildrye by Keir Morse

  • Large perennial bunchgrass found in open areas, native prairie, chaparral, woodland and forest
  • Leaf color is green, blooms May - July
  • Provide wildlife habitat for mammals, birds and waterfowl
  • Important pollinator plant for bees and butterflies

NONNATIVE
Jointed Goatgrass (Aegilops cylindrica)

Jointed Goatgrass

  • Annual grass from west Asia and eastern Europe
  • Found in wheat fields and other cropland areas.
  • About 15 - 30 inches tall, blooms May - July
  • Produces about 3,000 seeds per plant which remain viable for 3-5 years

June

NATIVE
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

  • This perennial herb can be found in most Midpen preserves
  • Found in grasslands, meadows, open forests and disturbed areas
  • Native Americans used the plant for pain relief and fever reduction
  • About 1-3 ft tall, blooms April - August

NONNATIVE

Perennial Pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium)

Perennial Pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium)

  • Grows aggressively, forming dense colonies that exclude native plants
  • Native to southeastern Europe to southwestern Asia
  • First recorded sighting in CA was in 1936 in Stanislaus County
  • Reproduces by seed and vegetatively, blooms May - July