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Green and Gold are the colors of the coastal region's natural landscape in early 2011. A greater-than-average amount of rain late last year triggered the early growth of annual grasses and weeds, with greens replacing yellows and browns. At the same time, some autumnal colors remain in the riparian areas, particularly with willows, cottonwoods, and a minority of sycamores.

Ceanothus, or wild lilac, normally a late winter or early spring blooming native plant, began blossoming late last year in some spots (Cowles Mountain for one) around coastal and inland San Diego County. This unusual behavior was undoubtedly triggered by a combination of early rains and protracted periods of abundant sunshine late last year. Blue- and white-flowering varities of ceanothus are common wherever native sage-scrub and chaparral vegetation grows, from the bluffs of Torrey Pines, to the edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert.

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