Wildflower Fans, Big Bear's Belly Plants Are Back

The low-to-the-ground flora spring up in the mountain area's "Pebble Plains."

WE MAY BE A MONTH INTO SPRING, give or take, but that doesn't mean that wildflower season is winding down, no sirree. And while the much-desired and always anticipated superbloom didn't come to pass this year as far as the desert and LA-close poppies were concerned, there are still petals popping up. And "up" is the key word, when we reach the second half of April, and the days grow warmer. For it is up, up, up, at the higher elevations, where we begin to hear of new sightings of the most bloomful sort. And quite the interesting spread of flowers have begun to make their yearly show, near Big Bear Lake. No, you won't be walking among a sea of tall and frilly specimens that hit you at knee- or thigh-level; these flowers are quite close to the ground, as their cute nickname suggests. And, yes, as you walk by them, you'll want to be aware of where you trod, as some of these beauties sit within a protected zone at Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve. It's the pretty and often petite...

BELLY PLANTS... we're singing about here, those leafy wonders that spring up around the "Pebble Plains" of the area. Indeed, where the belly plants grow can be quite rocky, which is part of their hearty charm. "About a dozen of these plant species are found nowhere else in the world, having evolved there in isolation, adapting to the unique soil," reveals a representative of the area. The cost to take the half-mile loop trail that happens to wend by a lot of the seasonal Belly Plant bloom action? It's totally free. Make sure you head for the Pebble Plains before June, though, when these wee sprouters wrap it up for another year. And as for that moniker? You guessed it: It's said you have to get on your belly to see them up close, but count on eyeing these unusual plants from above, too, just fine.

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