Margaret's Lavatera; gopher predation experiences

When We last saw Margaret's Lavatera assurgentiflora, in Margaret's Mallow it had grown significantly, but now it's even bigger.

Of the half dozen that I took to my parent's house and planted on the Upper 40, all but one at last check (during my trip back from Andrew Murray) had been destroyed by gophers. Gophers LOVE this plant, so much so that they will girdle the trunk and nibble small branches above ground. The one surviving Lavatera is in a partially shaded area and somehow the gophers hadn't spied it at last check. These are really good looking large shrubs with flowers all over like Margaret's picture when they are a bit older, so it's a shame to lose so many. Here's a photo from Feb 15 where there's signs of above ground nibbling.

Another Lavatera was eaten about 3/4 of the way through and lying on the ground. The remaining upright trunk at left is girdled all around. By April, these were all dead as doornails.

A Mimulus croaked, and it looked like gopher predation, but I'm not 100% sure.

In contrast, a different good looking flowering plant, Romneya coulteri (Matilija Poppy at left) planted at several locations on the Upper 40 - including a couple right in the middle of the gopher hills - seems to be doing well with no noticable gopher predation. It will start slowly this year but next year ought to have plenty of great looking flowers. Holding the earth on this hill is a chore that's probably well suited to the root structure of R. coulteri. The weeds are Oxalis pes-caprae or Oxalis cernua (Sour grass, originally from South Africa). Gophers tend to farm that stuff in my experience.

Also surviving and flourishing despite gophers were several salvias (a white hybrid [perhaps Salvia apiana x leucophylla "Desperado"] that was too large for my yard, a S. Clevelandii selection propagated from cuttings in my yard, and local black salvia [Salvia mellifera?] that I grew from cuttings taken in the Santa Barbara chaparral) as well as a buckwheat.

Surviving with minor gopher predation were California poppies and any number of little oak seedlings growing from the several hundred acorns my brother and I planted last fall.


  1. I wonder how gophers feel about Yarrow??

  2. Does that mean the upper 40 has been spared from the fires?

  3. Gophers hate yarrow, I hope. It stands to reason, since the mainland native plants seem robust to gophers and the island native (Lavatera) is not. Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) is a mainland native.

    No fires on the Upper 40. The Tea Fire was situated between the recent Jesusita blaze and my parent's house, though at one point they were nervous that the Jesusita blaze would creep around the edge of the Tea Fire.