Individuals and Culinary Experts in California Discover to Address Disruptive ‘Superbloom’ Wild Mustard

The wild mustard, an exceedingly flammable plant that poses a significant risk in fueling wildfires. Stands out as one of the most prevalent blooming plants found abundantly across California this year, a consequence of an exceptionally moist winter.


Max Kingery, a clothing designer renowned for incorporating natural dyes into his spring and summer collections, remains unfazed by the inquiries surrounding his enthusiastic eradication of yellow blossoms adorning the hills of Los Angeles.

Rather than taking offense at allegations of decimating California’s “super bloom,” he views it as a chance to shed light on the pernicious wild black mustard. A flower that thrived in the state after an atypically wet winter.

This spring in California, an abundance of wild flowering plants, including Mustard, emerged as prominent features across the landscape. However, as temperatures rise, Mustard is now succumbing to its demise, posing a dangerous risk as it becomes highly flammable fuel for wildfires that have inflicted devastating damage on the state. The tall stems of Mustard plants can serve as ladders for flames, facilitating their upward climb.

Aside from its fire hazard, Mustard exerts a transformative effect on the environment by overpowering native plants. Its leaves and roots possess inhibitory properties that hinder the growth of other species, resulting in the rapid expansion of a dense monoculture. While California is home to numerous varieties of wild mustards, the black mustard or Brassica nigra stands out as one of the most pervasive and widespread culprits.

Kingery belongs to an expanding collective of creators, including artists, designers, and chefs, who are combatting the intrusion by cultivating the plant for diverse purposes, ranging from dyes to pesto.

Foraging enthusiasts have organized delightful excursions to harvest its zesty blossoms and relish its flavorful foliage. Teaching individuals how to transform this versatile plant into paper, fertilizer, and a piquant variation of the renowned condiment bearing its name.

Kingery’s collection, appropriately titled “Ubiquitous Blossom,” showcases a range of clothing pieces such as sweatshirts, pants, tank tops, and more, all dyed using organic mustard. Olderbrother, Kingery’s company, presents a captivating image on their website. Featuring a model embracing a mustard dyed jacket while holding an uprooted weed. Additional photographs exhibit the transformation of the landscape through clearing.

The Los Angeles branch of Olderbrother boasts an exquisite adornment featuring an enormous tapestry woven by designer Cecilia Bordarampe, depicting the intricate stems, leaves, and blossoms of the plant. This stunning piece was created using materials sourced from the inaugural harvest. During which Kingery and his team collected approximately 450 pounds (204 kilograms) to produce the dye. Since then, they have consistently harvested over 100 pounds (45 kilograms) per week. Primarily from public land in Los Angeles.

According to Kingery, that quantity merely scratches the surface of the issue

The introduction of the Eurasian plant to California occurred during the 1700s when it was initially transported there. Notably, traces of this plant have been discovered in the adobe bricks of missions. Its proliferation experienced a significant surge during the current year. Following an unprecedented volume of rainfall spanning from December to April. The occurrence of numerous wildfires over the years has further facilitated the expansion of this plant particularly due to its affinity for disturbed terrains.

Mustard is eliminated from managed lands by state and local authorities. Yet its presence extends to locations outside of their control

During the height of spring. Vibrant stretches of yellow adorned the highways. Rising from the cityscapes, the hillsides emanated a radiant glow. Even the cracks on the sidewalks burst with blossoms.

“In terms of physical exertion,” Kingery expressed, “it has been quite demanding.” He added, “If you take a step back and observe the vastness, it almost feels like there is an abundance of wild mustard here, enough to serve salads and dye sweatshirts for every individual in the United States.”

It seems that Kingery, an artist mentioned in the passage, values the sight of native plants sprouting in cleared plots. He believes that the effort put into creating the desired colors in his work is worthwhile. Which in this context refers to a plant. Is used abundantly.

According to Kingery, the intention is not to remove plants from the ground without purpose. He finds it fascinating to utilize plants that naturally grow in unexpected placessuch as from sidewalks or urban environments. This concept of repurposing and utilizing naturally occurring vegetation is appealing to him.

In the context of dyeing materials for Kingery’s clothing line, Erin Berkowitz of Berbo Studio. An artist, creates dyes from invasive species.  Unwanted or disruptive in their natural habitats. A chef collaborates with Berkowitz to conduct classes where they use mustard greens, an invasive species. To make pesto and incorporate the flowers into dressings.

This passage highlights the artistic approach of utilizing and repurposing plants. Including invasive species. In various creative endeavors while promoting sustainability and reducing waste.

“Berkowitz mentioned how the world brims with an array of artistic resources at our fingertips.”

In the given statement, the person mentioned her work with Kingery and how it demonstrated. The potential outcomes when more individuals become aware of its applications. She described observing a park hill being cleared of mustard. Which she found to be a promising development.

The mustard plants, which can grow over 8 feet tall, had overshadowed native plants like blue lupine and poppies. Preventing them from receiving sufficient sunlight. After the mustard harvest in the El Sereno neighborhood of east L.A., Berkowitz remarked that an entire neighborhood and its public space had regained a healthy and functional native ecology.

According to Jen Toy from Test Plot. A collaborative organization with Kingery and Berkowitz that focuses on restoring biodiversity in local communities. The aim is to expand the concept of land care and engage individuals who may not identify as environmentalists.

In pursuit of this goal, ecological horticulturist Alyssa Kahn and artist Nadine Allan created a unique digital magazine called a zine, highlighting various applications of black mustard. These applications range from paper-making.  The creation of face masks to using it as a natural pesticide to enrich garden soil.

Kahn’s drive to take action stems, in part, from witnessing her friends suffer significant losses due to devastating wildfires.

“She expressed our desire to motivate individuals to take action and raise awareness, Emphasizing the importance of educating them.

“Kahn’s admiration for their beauty was evident as he expressed, ‘The sight is simply mesmerizing. Those vibrant yellow flowers paint a picturesque view. And without a broader understanding of the ecological context. One might mistake it as a mere sea of yellow blooms.'”

Jutta Burger, an advocate from the California Invasive Plant Council. Commends the resourcefulness displayed and encourages individuals to reach out to land management agencies for collecting dormant seeds that remain after clearing operations.

“It’s nearly impossible to eradicate it entirely, especially in areas where it has thrived for an extended period,” she acknowledged.

Burger emphasized that innovative endeavors aiming to utilize resources. In unconventional ways have yielded significant results. She pointed out the notable impact when culinary experts. Began skillfully concocting dishes featuring the formidable lionfish and presenting them at dining establishments. This practice led to a decline in the lionfish population within certain regions. Highlighting its notorious status as a menace to indigenous marine fauna.

Burger expressed the importance of disseminating the knowledge. The vast expanses of yellow we see today were not always monotonously yellow.

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