Sunday, April 19, 2009

Not Hollywood

This is California.
--- upper pasture at Dipper Ranch ---

This is California.
--- Coyote Ridge east of Morgan Hill ---

--- Anna's hummingbird visiting barberry ---
Real California is not Hollywood. Real California is not Disneyland.

In real California, there are conifer forests, oak woodlands, chaparral, grasslands, deserts, mountains, islands, rivers, bays, ponds, and all the plants, animals, rocks and clouds that come with them.

Pacific Ocean on one side
Sierra Nevada Mountains on the other
diverse natural wonderland

The springtime wildflower bloom has started and the upper pastures where the cattle were grazing on the Dipper Ranch in January and February look especially colorful. Grassland wildflowers currently blooming on the Dipper Ranch are California poppy, popcorn flower, lupine, fiddleneck, red maids, owls clover, blue-eyed grass, purple sanicle, scarlet pimpernel, buttercup, field madder and checkermallow.

One of the two fabulous botanists shown in the first photo above, showed me a game with California poppies she learned as a little girl. I noticed last week that she still plays it. This game is illustrated below along with some websites that have photographs of California wildflowers and and other websites that link to good wildflower hiking spots.

The Natural Resources Database - has plant and animal lists for over 200 open space and nature preserves in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. You can create a simple or fancy list, search, and link to websites with more information such as photos.

Carol Leigh's California Wildflower Hotsheet
- Hikers (mostly photographers) enter dates and places they have recently seen wildflowers with lists. In the spring, someone is usually posting new information every few days.

CalPhotos - over 200,000 searchable photos of plants, animals, landscapes and cultural features. And its more technical companion, CalFlora.

Places that often have good spring wildflower hikes in the Santa Cruz Mountains and nearby areas (click underlined title to automatically get linked to website with more details):

  • Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve - serpentine grasslands make for colorful and unusual wildflowers. Frequent docent lead hikes. Website has flower ID.
  • Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve - hike to Borel Hill for great views and wildflower fields, especially in wet years after prescribed burns.
  • Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve - from the parking lot on Hicks Road, take Woods Trail and Barlow Road to Bald Mountain which weave between sunny grasslands, shady forests and rocky trailsides to provide lots of variety.
  • Almaden Quicksilver County Park - Try the trails off the Mockingbird Hill entrance especially early in the spring.
  • Coyote Ridge - serpentine grasslands with rare butterfly and views to the Hamilton Range, guided hikes only - check website.

A little further out:
Go outside and play. Happy Earth Day.

And for my co-hikers today at Los Trancos Open Space Preserve, here is a list of the wildflowers we saw. In light of all the things I have said about common names, I still used them below but made sure they are the ones also used in the Natural Resources Database so you can check that site for the genus-species name and link to photographs.

purple sanicle
common sheep sorrel
blue field madder
white-stemmed storksbill
English plantain
purple needlegrass
California poppy
scarlet pimpernel
bicolor linanthus (thousands of these teeny flowers!)
California buttercup
California goldfields
Owl's-clover (purple)
annual lupine
sheep parsnip
Pacific sanicle
short-spurred plectritis
checker mallow
California blackberry
blue witch
blue dicks

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