Saturday, March 16, 2013

Santa Teresa County Park - Wildflower Hotspot #7

Santa Teresa County Park featuring California poppy and gypsum spring beauty
Santa Teresa County Park is in the Santa Teresa Hills of south San Jose. Skip the golf course and head further up Bernal Road to the less developed parts of the park. There are winding trails through grasslands and oaks with attractive trail names like Hidden Springs, Coyote Peak and Rocky Ridge. Many of the local neighbors use the park for early morning or evening hikes and rides and a quick conversation at the trailhead or on the way may steer you to their favorite view or a spot with current blooms. Last year, one of those locals told me, "Santa Teresa has a lot of serpentine areas and the Stile Ranch, Rocky Ridge and Bernal Hill Trails are usually very good in April and May."

The Friends of Santa Teresa Park is a volunteer organization that supports the park and maintains a website of information. Ron Horii posts hike information there with photos of specific trails often featuring wildflowers and he allowed me to use some of his photos above when I made a presentation about wildflower hotspots to the California Native Plant Society.

Fremont's star lily
Each park agency has a different approach to how they manage their lands. Some have developed features like sports fields and bathrooms, while others just have trails. Check the signboards and websites for rules about hiking offtrail, dog use, bikes, etc.

Santa Clara County Parks lists upcoming activities on its website including hikes, family events and classes.  I just checked and the upcoming March 23, 2013 hike in Santa Teresa County Park on Nature Journaling is full with 2 people on the waiting list! Looks like there are some fun activities in the park but you better sign up early or hike on your own from the Fortini Trailhead.  The Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society is having their annual hike to Coyote Lake on March 31, 2013, which will be another good south San Francisco Bay region hike. I went on their Coyote Lake hike last year and was impressed with the flowers at the serpentine areas.

Fetid adder's tongue, common in redwood forest but sometimes found in other shady spots. Maybe not at Santa Teresa County Park but definitely at Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve
We've had another dry winter which can dampen the spring wildflower bloom.  However, as I told a neighbor the other day, we need to think like a California native and be prepared for dry periods. There probably are some locations and some plants that do particularly well with dry springs, so we just have to find them. In the second week of March, the following wildflowers were reported at a docent hike at Pulgas Open Space Preserve: shooting star, hounds tongue, fetid adder's tongue, trillium and warrior's plume. A birding friend visited Pulgas Ridge on March 14, 2013 and just posted some great wildflower photos and amazing bird photos on her photography website First Came A Bird.  Her photos additionally show blue blossom, Fremont's star lily and blue dicks blooming this week at Pulgas. Check out that photo of the blue-gray gnatcatcher - lovely!

Blue dicks
While we are talking about blues at Pulgas, try the Blue Oak Trail from the parking lot for flowers in the understory of the deciduous blue oak trees which are just popping out fresh bright green leaves.  The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District docents are leading hikes at Pulgas on April 21, 23 and 28.

Santa Teresa County Park probably has similar wildflowers in the grasslands and oak understory right now. If you go, please let us know what you see in the comments below.

Blue-eyed grass and popcorn flower
Think like a California native, find those spots that thrive on dry springs.

This post is part of a series of Wildflower Hotspots of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
California poppy Eschscholzia californica
Gypsum spring beauty, Claytonia gypsophiloides
Shooting star, Dodecatheon hendersonii
Hounds tongue, Cynoglossum grande
Fetid adder's tongue, Scoliopus bigelovii
Giant trillium, Trillium chloropetalum
Warrior's plume, Pedicularis densiflora
Blue blossom, Ceonothus thyrsiflorus
Fremont's star lily, Toxicoscordion fremontii
Blue dicks, Dichelostemma capitatum spp. capitatum
Blue-eyed grass, Sisyrinchium bellum
Popcorn flower, Plagiobothrys nothofulvus
Blue oak, Quercus douglasii

1 comment:

  1. People keep saying it's a bad year for wildflowers but I have seen just sheets and sheets of blooms. Sunol Regional Wilderness knocked my socks off with incredibly dense Owl's Clover and Lupines, but Santa Teresa is putting on quite a show as well. Favorite find was a huge patch of blue fiesta flower (Pholistoma auritum) so dense that tne entire hillside was blue!


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