Hillside walk, 27 April 2014
Again we have plenty of flowers, similar to the past few weeks. More noticeable now is that the mustards are really tall and dominating the landscape.
The middle area of the north hillside this week has many large caterpillars, 2.5 to 3 inches long. I saw dozens of them. Some were eating plants, in particular the four-o'clock (Miarabilis laevis var. carssifolia) and the filaree (Erodim sp.); but the majority of them were hurrying across the ground, presumably in search of their next dinner. Terry Keller identifies them as the white-lined sphinx moth, a relative of the tomato hornworm.
I now have a puzzle to resolve regarding Rhamnus. Spiny redberry (Rhamnus crocea) has tiny flowers, smaller leaves, and stiffer branches. What I believe is holly leaf redberry (Rhamnus ilicifolia) has larger flowers and leaves, and branches not so stiff. More significantly, the latter appears to have some flowers with five petals, whereas the Jepson Manual says it has only four, no mention of five. Then again, maybe they are also all the one species of Rhamnus; I'll watch the development of the fruit to ascertain this in greater detail. At present I believe they are separate. Also, in the middle of the north hillside are specimens of each species, and not far apart.