Hundreds of plant species are found at the Ballona Wetlands.
Many of these species are not native to California and are highly invasive, such as pampas grass. Restoration of the salt marsh is expected to reduce invasion by non-native species because most of these species do not thrive in salty soil. Despite the presence of many exotic plant species, native vegetation representative of the historical Ballona vegetation can still be found. These include willows along the old Centinela Creek corridor at the base of the Westchester bluffs, dune vegetation west of the salt marsh in Playa del Rey being restored by the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, and high marsh (pickleweed-dominated) along tidal channels and in salty soil throughout Ballona.
The history of rare plant species at the Ballona wetlands is a bad news/good news story. One plant species, Ballona cinquefoil, was found in the early 1900s but is believed lost from Ballona forever due to historical human impacts. The species was found only at Ballona and no populations are known to exist elsewhere for the purpose of re-introduction. However, the Ventura marsh milk-vetch, also found at Ballona in the early 1990s but also as far north as Oxnard, was recently re-discovered at Oxnard and is currently the subject of experimental re-introduction to Ballona by the California Department of Fish and Game. Restoration of the Ballona salt marsh will provide many other opportunities to provide a safe haven for endangered plants.