Project Runyon: Now blooming in Hollywood


For the last 15 days an amazing technicolor stream of fluids has poured forth from every orifice on my head. After living here for six springs with nary a sneeze, suddenly Los Angeles, a place I believed I was immune to, has rendered me allergic.

After decorating my desk with festive Kleenex drifts for a week, I ventured out of the house for a walk up Outpost. Looking towards Runyon Canyon Park I suddenly realized the hills were not only green, but yellow and purple and blue (they’re usually brown, brown, brown) and remembered that thanks to the expert timing of a monsoon in January, this is a banner year for wildflowers. So I ran home, got my camera, and over the course of three expeditions to Runyon, documented exactly what was incapacitating me.

Now, nearing the end of my congestion, I present to you:  Project Runyon.

Some findings:

· These are only the plants that are currently blooming and this changes every day. I’ll try to add to them over the next few weeks, noting which are just starting to bloom into May.

· Using my Introduction to the Plant Life of Southern California, I think I’ve identified about 75% of them, so please let me know if you know something I don’t, or if I have something wrong, or send this to someone who might know such things.

· If I knew a flower was not native or invasive, I noted it beneath the photo. Plus since people lived/live in Runyon, there are plenty of flowers that have been planted around residences. I tried to note that, too.

· Also important: I am not a photographer, these are only reference photos. But I did use that little tulip icon on my camera.

· The most prevalent flower in Runyon—that fluorescent yellow bloom so bright you can see it from planes—is not native! Black mustard creeps over our hillsides, choking out our SoCal natives. Here’s a nice piece about the noxious plants and invasive weeds in the area, and what you can do about it.

·  I have tried for years to learn the names of the native plants in Los Angeles by reading books but this is the first time I actually remembered them! The process of identifying them in the park, sorting through the photos, and looking them up has truly burned them into my brain.

· I found plenty of what I’m allergic to—oak and grass—but it would be interesting to know why all of a sudden I’m reliving my childhood of hayfever. However, if you’re suffering this time of year, rest assured:  That which doesn’t kill you sure looks pretty.

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