Bruce Kauffman 7:30 a.m., March 11
Acacias and Frost-Bitten Laurel Sumacs
Acacias, estooned with myriads of fluffy yellow blossoms, are brightening streetsides, freeway embankments, and backyard gardens throughout the San Diego area this month. Although many acacias are native to subtropical regions, nearly all we see today in San Diego were introduced from Australia. The Anza-Borrego Desert's native acacia (Acacia greggii) is the notoriously thorny "catclaw," known by early desert pioneers as "tear-blanket" and "wait-a-minute bush."
The Frost-Nipped Legacies of last November’s and December's cold spells aren't hard to spot. Brown lawns, half-dead-looking avocado trees, and wilted ornamental plants like poinsettias in certain areas of San Diego County tell the story plainly enough. But a common frost-sensitive native plant — the laurel sumac — is even more widely expressive. Laurel sumac is one of the largest and most conspicuous plant within the coastal-sage-scrub vegetation community growing on many of San Diego's coastal hillsides. Laurel sumacs tend to become noticably frost-bitten in low lying areas, where chilled air sinks and settles in during the night and early morning hours.