Hillside walk, 10 February 2015
The early spring excitement has faded away, with the hoary-leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius var. planus) now blooming only in a protected, shady portion of Canyon 5. On the other hand, mainstream spring arrived this week. Firstly, the California four o'clock is now flowering profusely, everywhere. Secondly, we have a small explosion of new species in bloom. These include California bluebell (Phacelia minor), strigose lotus (Acmispon strigosus), California coffeeberry (Frangula californica), common muilla (Muilla maritima), spiny redberry (Rhamnus crocea), and common eucrypta (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia). The number of flowering species had doubled since the start of the year!
On the other hand, parts of the hillside are already looking dry. This is unlikely to be bonanza year for spring growth, with no major rain since mid December. For example, the ubiquitous mustard is everywhere, but nowhere near as tall as it could be. Even the popcorn flower (Cryptantha sp.) is distinctly stunted.
While some of the liverworts (Asterella californica) have already dried up or are in the process of drying up, Canyons 3B, 5, and 6 have protected areas where the ground is damp, even wet in some instances. Here the liverworts continue on their path of reproduction. The largest sporophytes are about 1 cm diameter, and elevated about that same distance above the thalli. Some appear to be developing what could become the white involucres around each sporophyte.