Botanical Biodiversity- The Variety of Life on Earth ©

07.02.22
Botanical Biodiversity- The Variety of Life on Earth
An exploration into the rich beauty and botanical wonder of California.

You may not know this, but California has a vibrant and diverse ecosystem that doesn't exist anywhere else on earth; it possesses more plant species than any other state in the USA. At least ⅓ of California's plant kingdom is native to the golden state. For this reason, ecologists consider the state's extraordinary ecosystems a "biodiversity hotspot." 

California is one of the only biodiversity hotspots in the United States with a complex history of tectonic plate movement, which led to the formation of various soils and sediment types. These diverse soils and geological profiles account for extraordinary plant biodiversity, creating the perfect environment for growing an extensive array of plants.

As a result, several plants that grow in the state aren't found anywhere else in the world - thus attracting awe-inspiring flora, fauna, and fungi that host various animal species like unique birds and wildlife that can't be encountered anywhere else on the planet. 

Due to the unique and rich soil types, California growers and producers have a unique opportunity to cultivate certain foods; as a result, a vast range of food and crops can be efficiently grown. For example, California produces 90% or more of the U.S. supply of almonds, artichokes, avocados, celery, broccoli, lettuce, plums, lemons, and several berries. In addition, the Mediterranean climate in California allows the soil to grow many crops that aren't grown anywhere else in the United States. 

 

California’s Extraordinary Ecology

The eco-systems unique to California include beaches, mountains, deserts, and forests - all in one state. 

Beaches: California’s beautiful beaches are part of what attracts people to the state, but did you know that California’s beaches are made up of several mini-ecosystems? These include coral reef and reef activity, estuaries and wetlands, kelp forests, and deep-sea canyons. 

Mountains: California contains several mountain ranges, some of them forested- particularly in Northern California. The Klamath and Siskiyou mountains are a notable biodiversity hotspot, as they contain one of the four most biodiverse temperate forests in the world. California also contains unique pine forests, grasslands, and shrublands. The Cascade Range is drier and more open than the wet forest mountains up North. 

Deserts: In the eastern part of the state, California contains several dry desert regions. The lower part of Southeastern California contains a large desert ecoregion that spans into parts of Arizona and Mexico. There are two high desert regions in the state- the Mojave and the Great Basin desert. The Mojave region contains Joshua Trees, which are currently listed with an endangered status. These trees only exist in the United States in the Mojave desert region, part of which is contained in California’s borders. 

Forest and wetlands: California contains Mediterranean ecoregions and both woodland and grassland ecosystems. These regions contain an array of sage plants, chaparral, and montane species. These ecoregions contain oak savanna, oak woodland, coastal grassland, and more. The Eastern Cascades contain ponderosa pine forests, grasslands, and shrublands. California’s coastal forests contain the redwood forest, which are some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world. Redwood forests are noted for having the highest forest growth rates on earth. 

Several endemic plant species in California are rare, and many people don’t realize some of their favorite California plants are actually endangered, so organizations like Bloom California are encouraging residents to grow native plants in their gardens to encourage a resurgence of plant life and biodiversity in California. 

With such a fragile and distinct ecosystem, it’s imperative that we take extra efforts and precaution to protect the biodiversity of plants in California. Preservation of the plants in California is imperative because some are rare and endangered, and should they become extinct; there are no others of their kind in the world.

Here are some of our favorite endemic California plants: 

California Poppy

The California poppy is native only to the Pacific slope, which ranges from southern Oregon to California. This bright cup-shaped blossom is the official state flower, and it grows tall from beautiful blue-green foliage. The petals typically close at night, but it can survive mild winters. At the peak of bloom season, the orange flowers cover more than 1700 acres in California. 

 

Coastal prickly pear

Opuntia littoralis is a stem succulent native to California. It’s sometimes called the sprawling prickly pear because it grows close to the ground. The cactus has a variety of appearances - it doesn’t always look exactly the same. The flowers can appear a muted yellow or a dusty red from May to June, and once the cactus blooms, the purple fruits are edible. 

 

Aloe Vera

Did you know that aloe vera is actually a cactus? Aloe vera has a reputation for soothing irritated sunburns, and this is because the plant has several medicinal properties. Aloe vera is one of our favorite plants because it has healing properties, it’s anti-inflammatory, and it can be applied externally or taken as a supplement to soothe an irritated gut or bladder. It’s truly one of the most versatile and useful plants around. 

 

Iris

The iris is a beautiful flower - tall, usually purple or reddish, with a unique structure and petals hanging down around the stem. The iris fernaldii is a species of iris endemic to California, and it’s mostly found in the San Francisco Bay area. The Douglas Iris is also found in coastal regions of Northern and Central California. 

 

Wild Rose

The California Wild Rose is a breathtaking rose species that grows on the coast of California- even up in mountain ranges up to 6000 feet. Its distinct features are that of the traditional rose, with smooth, wide petals that fan outward. They can be light pink all the way to a deeper magenta. These gorgeous blooms typically glow in clusters and are highly aromatic - they are divine and smell amazing. 

 

California Grown

California grows more than 400 crops, and over one third of the entire country’s vegetables and two-thirds of our fruit is all grown in California. In fact, you may have California produce in your fridge right now. 

This is because more than 50% of food grown and eaten in the United States comes from California. This includes industries like dairy and milk, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and meat. California grows nearly all of the garlic consumed in the United States. 

Copious amounts of organic produce is grown in California - organic food sales totaled more than $10 billion in 2019, which increased from the year prior. More organic food is grown each year, and California is actually the only state in the U.S. with a USDA National Organic Program

At KLUR, we use many local and organic ingredients which support regional farms- both for the health of the consumers and of farm workers. It is the work of Cesar Chavez that inspired us to use as many organic ingredients as possible - it's not because they make better products, but for the protection of people harvesting the ingredients.

Chavez, a Mexican-American Arizona resident, worked on a farm himself for more than 10 years before he turned to activism. Throughout his life, he could see that farm workers were exposed to toxic, harmful chemicals - and he was horrified by the impact this had on people and their families. He dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of food laborers, which included things like working conditions and fair wages. 

Learn more about the 1986 farm workers pesticide poisonings here:
Our planet’s future: Dependant on biodiversity 

When you think about botanical and plant biodiversity, you could consider it the “variety of life on earth.” Without biodiversity, soil would become depleted and unable to grow healthy, nutrient-rich food, several plant and animal species would become extinct, and entire ecosystems would fall apart. Protecting and maintaining biodiversity hotspots on our earth protects plants, people, communities, animals, bugs, and soil - the future of our planet. 

Biodiversity is fundamental to life on earth and human survival, but it’s under a tremendous threat that’s significantly increasing as time goes on. What human beings do in the next few years will determine much about the fate of biodiversity - and life on earth as we know it. The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink all rely on biodiversity. Future generations are counting on us right now to determine what kind of earth they’ll inhabit in the future. 

Taking action now and committing to support biodiversity is crucial. Why? Because in a recent report by the United Nations, it was discovered that in the next 80 years, our planet could lose over 1 million known species. That is one in eight species of all life on earth - an unfathomable, devastating loss. 

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) enables civil society to protect the world’s biodiversity hotspots—biologically rich ecosystems that are essential to humanity, yet highly threatened. CEPF was founded in 2000 to address this challenge by empowering civil society in developing countries and transitional economies to protect the world’s biodiversity hotspots, which are some of Earth's most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial ecosystems.

KLUR’s dedication to botanical protection

KLUR is dedicated to the preservation of all ecosystems, especially California’s plant ecosystem, because this is our home. Plants on our earth are a magical thing: They are beautiful, edible, and medicinal. They sustain us, bring us joy, soothe us, and energize us. All the plants we have been given are precious, some rare, and all require a high level of protection and consideration.

In today’s world, things move so fast that it is easy for many of us to forget to think about protecting the integrity of plant life. However, we have an interconnected dependency on plant life to sustain human life from food, medicines, shelter and wellbeing. We have a collective responsibility to make the protection of plants a priority, what we fear most won’t realize the impact of what’s been done until it’s too late to reverse it.

After all - where would we be without nature? Nature is an essential part of our daily lives. It’s the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Nature doesn’t depend on us. We need it to survive! As habitants of the earth we have a collective responsibility to protect nature in all its forms - for the benefit of everyone and everything on it.

We are committed to protecting plant life and protecting biodiversity - for ourselves, our own company’s footprint, and to educating others who might not understand the importance of biodiversity. It's necessary we shed light on these issues and share our knowledge so others can follow in our footsteps to achieve true collective sustainability. 

Join us in our mission to keep our planet healthy. We urge you and your community to learn about all the great ways to support plant biodiversity and make slow, but steady, changes to your lifestyle - for our earth. 

 

 

 

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