Hillside walk, 30 March 2015
Caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida) is more widespread and more prolific than at any time during the past three years. It's now a little beyond its peak. The other notable in terms of being widespread compared to the previous two years is cobweb thistle (Cirsium occidentali var. californicum), of which there are many in bloom. And the morning glory (Calystegia sp.) is blooming nicely, as is the leafy California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum ssp. foliolosum).
The hillsides generally continue their process of becoming drier as the summer approaches, this week with a significant downturn in the number of flowering species. The liverwort in Canyon 6 (Asterella californica) has now died completely, including the receptacles that never reached maturity, leaving only that in Canyon 5 still green. The California four o'clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia), one of the earliest spring blooms, has at last ceased to bloom.
Despite the dryness, areas of green are spread over the hillsides where there is water near the surface. This sometimes gives the appearance of a grassy meadow. In other places it's a proliferation of different plants. Occasionally it's a small area, possibly no more than 10 feet across, such as near the thicket at the bottom of the steep upper north hillside, where today, in addition to the grass, there are 11 blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum) in flower.
The liverworts (Asterella californica) in Canyons 5 and 3B show evidence of spores falling from the receptacles. In both locations, fully formed receptacles are beginning to dry out, and its the dried receptacles that are producing the spores, which appear like pale yellow specs on the ground.