Native Plants, Non-native Plants, and Invasive Species

White wildflower, common name Ranger's buttons (Sphenociadium sp.)

National Parks and other protected areas are samples of the world's natural and unique variety of life. The value of diverse landscape and wildlife in our National Parks is integral and necessary to the enjoyment and health of the park and its visitation. We value the environment in many ways: in its infinite source of beauty and enjoyment, for the process of learning about nature from a place of minimal human impact, and for the survival value of wild species that help regulate climate, air quality, and carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water cycle.|

Part of preserving our ecosystem is to understand all forms of life that exist in our parks and beyond. Understanding the relationship between the biotic and abiotic communities helps to create an effective management program to protect our natural resources. Controlling invasive species is one way to protect biodiversity that make the parks special. As the name suggests, biodiversity refers to multitude of living organisms in one area and is a way to gauge the health of the natural community. Invasive species threaten our environment in a very powerful way because they can alter the ecosystems and landscapes we seek to protect. Invasive species are "a non-native species whose introduction does, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm to human, animal, or plant health" (Executive Order 13112, 1999). Invasive species aggressively compete with native species and are often the victor of the battle. In some cases, one invasive species can outcompete many native species thus reducing biodiversity.

Native species are natural to the area in which they are found, and are specially adapted to that particular ecosystem. Native plants are intrinsic to the continuation of a healthy and diverse ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for mammals, birds and insects and in early summer, beautiful wildflowers dot the meadows within the monument. These systems are fragile and easily damaged: the introduction of non-native plants can have serious consequences. We have a responsibility to protect Devils Postpile National Monument for future generations and one way we can help includes protecting native plants and their specific roles in the monument.


Common wildflowers
Indian Paintbrush- Castilleja miniata
Red Columbine- Aquilegia formosa
Yampah- Perideridia parishii
Common Monkey Flower- Mimulus guttatus
Meadow Larkspur- Delphinium gracilentum
Alpine Lily- Lilium parvum
Groundsel- Senecio triangularis
Large Leaf Lupine- Lupinus polyphyllus
Sierra Shooting Star- Dodecatheon jeffreyi
Fleabane Daisy- Erigeron peregrines
Ranger's Button- Sphenosciadium capitellatum
Cinquefoil- Potentilla glandulosa
Corn Lily- Veratrum Californicum

Places to View Native Plants

Agnew Meadow Wildflower Walk

Early summer in the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River Valley is home to many exquisite wildflowers. One of the best places to explore these colorful landscapes is the Agnew Meadow wildflower walk. The self-guided hike is 0.5 miles. Mid-June through early July are the best time to see the most diverse blooms. Look through our common wildflower photo database to help you identify what you find. Plant guides are also available for sale in the Devils Postpile ranger station.

Park Programs

First Bloom
First Bloom is a tribal, environmental education program that connects 4th and 5th grade kids to the outdoors, Native American culture and national parks. First Bloom partners with Devils Postpile National Monument to give the children a chance to explore and protect their national park. Past projects have involved the removal of pine tree seedlings encroaching in Soda Springs meadow and the subsequent replanting of the seedlings on the bank of the San Joaquin River in 2009, volunteering with monument staff to pull invasive Kentucky bluegrass in 2011 and the cleaning of our campgrounds in 2012. First Bloom participants take what they learn in National Parks back to their communities. They created and maintain a native plant garden at the Owens Valley Paiute-Shoshone Cultural Center for the enjoyment and education of all.

Native Gardens
Native gardens are a wonderful way for everyone to help keep the environment healthy. Native plants are well adapted to their surroundings, they use less water and need less maintenance than non-native plants and in some cases have natural resistance to pests. Native gardens also create habitat for native wildlife, so you'll be able to watch nature in your own back yard! The Benefits of Native Gardens include saving water, low maintenance requirments, reducing pesticides and creating a habitat for native wildlife.

Humans are a major source of non-native plant introduction. Try to identify and remove invasive species in your own yard, to help stop the spread of invasive species and keep your native gardens healthy.

Invasive Species

Exotic Plant list
Bromus tectorum- Cheatgrass
Cirsium vulgare Bull- thistle
Lactua serriola- Prickly lettuce
Phleum pretense- Timothy
Poa annual L.- Annual bluegrass
Poa pratensis- Kentucky bluegrass
Spergularia rubra- Red Sandspurry
Taraxcum officinale- Common dandelion
Tragopogon dubius- Western salsify
Verbascum thapsis- Common mullein

Species of Concern

Bull Thistle-Cirsium vulgare
Bull Thistle is native to Europe, Northern Africa and Asia and found on every continent except for Antarctica. It germinates in spring or fall as a response to soil moisture, and is less sensitive to low water availability than other species of thistle. Bull thistle grows well in areas that have recently been disturbed, such as by fire, grazing or other soil disturbances. It competes with native plants and has no nutritional value for wildlife and may prevent tree seedling growth.

Cheatgrass- Bromus tectorum
Cheatgrass is native to Europe, Northern Africa and Asia. It can create a monoculture, growing in pure stands and pushing out all other species. Cheatgrass grows early in cooler temperature and uses moisture in soil before native plants can establish themselves. Wind, animals and people can transport the seeds long distances and will still be able to reproduce. Cheatgrass is very flammable and can cause more intense wildfires. It also reestablishes quickly in areas that have been burned, pushing out native plants who struggle to survive in these areas.

Western Salsify- Tragopogon dubius
Western Salsify is native to Eurasia and has been introduced to large parts of North America. Salsify only reproduces by seeds which are stored in a seed head that closely resembles a dandelion; wind can carry these light seed great distances, spreading Salsify quickly throughout an area. Salsify is common in areas of recent fire disturbance.

What Can You Do?

1. Don't pick flowers or dig up native plants, we need these populations to be as strong as possible to fight off invasive species.
2. If you are hiking, camping, or climbing check all of your gear; shoes, backpacks, ropes etc. for seeds caught in your belongings.
3. Burn local wood. Please don't bring wood from outside to burn in your campfires. Wood can carry bugs and seeds that we can't predict or control against.
4. Volunteer at Devils Postpile National Monument. Volunteers are crucial to management of invasive species. If you are interested in helping, please contact the park for more information on upcoming trips and project days.
5. Consider using native plants in your home and garden. Native plants need less water, provide habitat for other native species and help reduce the spread of invasive species.


Biodiversity in National Parks:
Invasive Species
National Invasive Species Counci:l
National Invasive Species Information Center:
National Parks Invasive Species:
Native Plants
Native plant database
California Native Plant Society
Bristlecone Chapter of CNPS

First Bloom

Last updated: February 28, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 3999
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546


(760) 934-2289

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