Hillside walk, 17 March 2015
The past week has been warmer than it has been recently, with temperatures reaching the the 90s F. Thus it wasn't surprising to find that nearly all of the California four o'clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia) is completely finished blooming, which made the north hillside significantly less attractive than in recent weeks. It was blooming only in small quantities in the protected parts of upper Canyon 8 and Canyon 3B.
Despite the heat, Canterbury bells (Phacelia minor) were in far greater numbers than last week, possibly at their peak for this year, although in far smaller numbers than during last year's sprint. And the heat can't have been unduly devastating in recent days because several strigose lotus (Acmispos strigosus) were seen on the mid north hillside. Also, the California sun cup (Camissoniopsis bistorta) was present at the bottom of the north hillside, as well as further up the slope. The California primrose (Eulobus californicus) was in even greater numbers than the past several weeks, including in the very bottom wash of Canyon 8, where I've not seen it before.
In Canyon 4 this week, Danny's skullcap (Scutellaria tuberosa) has leaves over an area probably about a meter diameter in a shady place, with numerous flowers. This is a new display.
However, the liverworts (Asterella californica) are looking decidedly stressed. The big question is whether any of the receptacles will grow to maturity and spread spores. Unfortunately, almost everywhere the thalli are disappearing and the stems of the receptacles are looking thin and weak, as if they are running out of steam. Only in Canyon 5 is there what appears to be a hearty clump that is fully green. Hopefull it will continue its path towards maturity.
A few newly flowering seasonal species this week include morning glory (Calystegia sp.), bush monkey flower (Diplacus longiflorus), cobweb thistle (Cirsium occidentale var. occidentale), chamise (Adenostoma fasiciulatum var. fasciculatum), and death camis (Toxicoscordion sp.)
This week's total number of blooming plants is 43, which is 1 more than the maximum of last year's spring, and most likely the peak for this year. Last year's peak was on April 27, which is about five weeks later.