Hillside walk, 06 April 2014
This week we have even more green growth, and a larger variety of flowers.
This week I found a different full-blooming specimen of hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius var. planus), this one in the middle of the north hillside. Those specimens that bloomed in January, albeit briefly, have not bloomed again following the rain.
The four o'clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia) is truly at it's magnificent peak, especially spread over the north hillside. The lower part of the north hillside has a delightful array of California bluebells (Phacelia minor).
In the middle section of the north hillside, strigose lotus (Acmispon strigosus) is everywhere. I tried counting individual flowers, but gave up after reaching 1,000. If I'd continued, I would have counted probably an additional 500.
This week the species count jumped up from 27 to 31, and is now the same as it was at this time last year. Note, however, that last year the highest count of the year, 35, was reached a few weeks earlier.
Of course, the species count doesn't tell the full story because it doesn't account for the quantity of each species. For example, last year parts of Canyon 5 were covered in masses of western nettle (Hesperocnide tenella), and this year, which is much drier overall, we have just a couple of clumps, each the size of a small bucket.
Another comparison is that last year the California suncup (Camissoniopsis bistorta) bloomed throughout March. This week saw the first of this species for this year, with just a single flower, which is clearly in response to the rain at the beginning of March.
In the middle of last week we received about 9 mm of rain, spread over three days. This wasn't enough to trigger a significant response from the liverworts. A minor amount of fresh green was evident in areas were the liverworts would have been directly exposed to this light rain, i.e. where the liverwors were not covered by other foliage.