Botanist restores native plants at CSU campus in Carson

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Botanist Connie Vadheim and a few dozen recruits in grubby clothes and stout shoes will be pulling weeds and planting buckwheat and California sunflowers on April 12 along a seasonal creek just south of parking lot seven at CSU Dominguez Hills.

It’s all part of Vadheim’s campaign to restore as much of the campus as possible with shrubs and flowers that are native to the South Bay area and raised from local genetic stock: sunflowers, coyote bush, tidy-tips, gilias, California wild roses, willows and bunch grasses.


‘We’ve restored two acres of land on campus over the past 3 1/2 years,’ said Vadheim, an adjunct professor of biology at the Carson campus. ‘That includes what we call the ‘garden of dreams’ near the children’s center, a seasonal wetlands area and the seasonal creek at parking lot seven.’

‘That creek is going to be fabulous in a few years,’ she said. ‘We’re even planning to put some tree frogs back in there.’

There are many lessons to be learned from helping native plants put down roots in ground otherwise covered with weeds or monotonous, heavily irrigated landscaping.

‘These native gardens are places of teaching about our natural heritage and the need to conserve water,’ Vadheim said. ‘I’m hoping they also inspire people to include some of these plants in their own yards.’

‘In fact,’ she added, ‘if we have some extras at the end of the day, I’ll be giving them away.’

The restoration effort is open to the public. Participants should bring sunscreen, a sun hat, gardening gloves, drinking water and a shovel.

For more information, contact Vadheim at

-- Louis Sahagun