Southern California Academy of Sciences Bulletin (1903) Volume 2, Number 4, Pages 41-42

By LeRoy Abrams, Stanford University
Cheiranthus suffretescens
Perennial, more or less branches, the branches woody, 1m. long or less, often straggling, among low shrubs, rough from the persistent bases of the old leaves, usually about 5mm. thick, the floral branches clustered at the ends of the main ones, slender, 3-4dm. long, leaves scattered along the floral branches, densely clothing their bases, very narrowly linear-oblanceolate, 2-3mm. wide, entire or remotely and obscurely denticulate; these as well as the branches cinerous with appressed 2-forked hairs, calyx-lobes 6-7mm. long, petals orange or yellow, cruciform, pods in rather lax racemes, on pedicels about 8mm. long, widely spreading, straight or slightly curved upwards, 4-angled, 1.5-1.75mm. broad, 5-6cm. long, beak slender, less than 1mm. broad and but little longer, seeds brownish, about 1.5mm. long.

Quite unlike any known member of the genus in habit, but in fruiting characters closely resembles C. angustatus Greene.

Common on the sand dunes along the coast between Port Ballona and Redondo. The writer's number 2511, collected at Port Ballona, June 10, 1902, is the type.

By Robert Jan van de Hoek, Scientist for the Ballona Institute
Member of the Southern California Academy of Sciences
322 Culver Boulevard, Suite 317, Playa del Rey, CA 90293
May 11, 2005
The native plant described above in excruciating detail by LeRoy Abrams has a vernacular name of Ballona Wallflower, but is also called Suffretescent Wallflower. It is recognized as rare by the California Native Plant Society, which has placed it on List 4. This exquisite Wallflower, which at Ballona occurs amongst the Dune Lupine vegetation and often grows through the Lupine stems and leaves projecting above the four-foot tall Lupine bushes is quite a sight to behold. It also grows on the steep dune slope above Vista del Mar Avenue adjacent to the Bistro du Soleil Restauraunt in Playa del Rey. These plants grows on the steep slope immediately above an old stone wall that is three feet tall. These plants also grow in the Playa del Rey LAX Sand Dunes and at the Cheveron El Segundo Oil Refinery. None are found south of here. It is also not known north of Ballona on the Malibu Coast. There is one other location on the California Channel Islands, where it has delicate but tenacious distribution. The long-term prognosis for survival of this beautiful Wallflower is not promising due the danger of extirpation by an airplane accident possibility being high if it occurs since these plants occur at the end of the runway. Similarly, the plants growing above the stone wall on Vista del Mar is an oversteepened slope that will likely collapse in the future. In addition, the Wallflower growing amongst the Lupine is bisected by walking trail which limits its population. Sadly, the restoration efforts under discussion are to clear away the dead Dune Lupine bushes for they are considered unsightly and perceived as possibly interfering with living dune plants. Lastly, the outlook for survival on the private property of the Chevron Refinery is gloomy due to the trend of Oil Company corporations toward the environment. The new owner of the Ballona sand dunes is the Department of Fish and Game, which does not have a good track record of recovering endangered plants. However, the California State Parks does have a good track record, so it might be considered as the agency that needs to own and manage the Ballona sand dune. California State Parks could be the recipient of the lands here if the Department of Fish and Game would tranfer it, but it would require the blessing of the Governor of California, who is Arnold Schwarzenegger at this time.

The 25 years of scientific conservation research that lead to discovering LeRoy Abrams' Ballona field notes enlightens us with knowledge and power for genuine restoration and genuine recovery of rare native plants. Genuine conservation of the dynamic southern California coast is possible by utilizing LeRoy Abrams' five year project (1899-1903) on native plants of southern California, which resulted in a significant book in 1904: Flora of Los Angeles and Vicinity. LeRoy Abrams' field journal notebooks (copies at the Ballona Institute archive), are invaluable, especially when used in conjunction with his book and scientific articles. Genuine restoration, genuine recovery, and genuine conservation, are all possible due to the visionary field studies and writings of LeRoy Abrams. In essence, we can restore the Ballona wetlands and uplands (dune, prairie, strand,) to virtually their wild glory of 1903, when the above article was originally written for the Southern California Academy of Sciences.