Hillside walk, 16 February 2015

The past week has seen some warm to hot days. I noticed a temperature of 86F (30C) one day when I was eating lunch. Thus the hillsides are looking increasingly dry. In exposed places, even the mustard is wilting, and never did grow tall. Strigose lotus (Acmispon strigosus), seen last year in the thousands, was represented by just a handful of flowers last week, and this week I counted just five. California four o'clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia) is at its peak, but may already be declining. California bluebells (Phacelia minor) is just a tiny fraction of what was here last year, and the flowers don't look strong.

On the other hand, this week saw another upward leap in the number of flowering species. Because of the numbers that appear to be at the end of their bloom, what is there now may be the peak for this spring. We'll see.

Some notable new spring flowers this week included good numbers of California primrose (Eubolus californicus), school bells (Dichelostemma capitatum), California plantain (Plantago erecta), and bitter cress (Cardamine oligosperma). A few species have just a few flowers at the beginning of their flowering cycle, such as deerweed (Acmispon glaber var. glaber).

The liverworts (Asterella californica) are dying up in most locations. In a few instances the thalli are completely blackened, leaving the immature receptacles still green and standing although clearly about the collapse. A few nicely damp places remain where the sporophytes look like they may develop to maturity.

Wild hyacinth

Telegraphweed

California sun cup

California plantain

Wishbone bush

California primrose

California bluebells

Rattlesnake weed

Popcorn flower

California coffeeberry

Strigose lotus

Two color everlasting

Holly leaf redberry

Spiny redberry

   

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