I live close to LA's second largest park, Deb's Park. The largest is Griffith Park which is hard to compete with. Most people have never heard of Deb's but it is definitely worth a visit, especially right now. Everything is green and growing.
Alex and I went about a month ago and saw this plant growing all over the place.
At the time it was pretty low to the ground and I had no idea what it was. It had thorns and very distinct white and green markings.
When we went back last weekend the plants were still there but they looked totally different. They are now 3 and 4 feet tall and made rather imposing prickley walls along the paths.
They are also starting to develop blooms that look like thistles.
some of the leaves are almost two feet long. Alex said that he thought that they are milk thistle and after doing some research when I got home he was proven right. It's also known as St. Mary's Thistle and is supposed to be good for the liver. When I mentioned it to my sister she knew all about it and it's therapeutic properties.
I would love to have some of this growing on my hill but it's considered invasive. I'm a little torn on the whole invasive issue. I would prefer to grow natives and drought tolerant plants but my hill is already covered with an invasive non-native grass. One thing that I like about the thistle is that it seems to crowd out the grass. Anywhere it is growing in Deb's Park there's no grass. Maybe it will turn into a thorny dry monster that I would have to cut down every year. I'll keep an eye on it in the park and see how it develops.
There was also this warty thistle that looked interesting but I couldn't identify it.
and another thistle that was neither warty nor milky but still very nice:
There were also large patches of this viney flower.
Neither of us knew what this one was.
Deb's Park is actually covered in non-natives. Here you can see a big clump of red castor bean against wild mustard.
Down below is the Audubon Center.
And above the Christian Science Senior Home is the array of solar panels they recently installed. Supposedly it cost a million dollars and will supply 90% of their electricity. It looks pretty cool.