A wildflower called White Fiesta Flower grows in the shady canyon near my house. In winter, it makes tiny white fly-pollinated flowers. If you get down at eye level, you can see these rather long-legged flies maintaining their patchwork of territories, sipping nectar, and fighting over mates. But this isn’t what strikes me as odd about these plants. Although the canyon, especially its shady side, is covered with plants, few other plants grow in the spot where it grows. Something is obviously keeping other plants out of the roughly ten foot diameter area it’s staked out. Normally, it reappears with the first rains in winter and fades away by late spring. In the warm, dry falls and late wet springs of the last two years, however, this circular patch of ground has been bare–no White Fiesta flowers and no other plants. In fact, I have noticed other failures of reliable wild flower clusters in the past two years. Assuming these conditions were to prevail, I wonder how long it would take for these bare patches to be recolonized with other plants? It’s amazing how climate affects native plants so quickly. –Mike Tidwell

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