The Golden State

Richard A. Minnich

in California's Fading Wildflowers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780520253537
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934337 | DOI:
The Golden State

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California is historically and metaphorically symbolized as the “Golden State” in tribute to the gold rush of 1849, but for many living in the state, gold is also a reminder of its sunny Mediterranean climate, or perhaps the Golden Gate Bridge. After describing California, this chapter introduces the central hypotheses of the book: California's pre-Hispanic vegetation consisted of vast carpets of wildflowers, not bunch grasslands; the introduction of European species triggered a biological invasion; the transformation of herbaceous cover began along the coast and shifted inland, the pace of change was dependent on habitat, climate variability; and, most importantly, the time of arrival and adaptive modes of the invaders; and the collapse of indigenous forblands over most of California happened with the invasion of bromes in the twentieth century.

Keywords: gold; California; pre-Hispanic vegetation; biological invasion; indigenous forblands

Chapter.  2960 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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