Hillside walk, 15 February 2016
This was a day of discovery! After looking for the past two years, at last I found flowers on the black cottonwood trees (Populus trichocarpa) in Canyon 6. Previously I assumed the flowers appear subsequent to the leaves. Not so. Last week the trees had no leaves. This week they have plenty of sprouting leaves, but also present are plenty of flowers. The western sycamore trees (Plantanus racemosa) may be similar in that I've never found satisfactory flowers; I always seem to be too late. The sycamores also are getting new leaves and appear to have flowers hanging down, but I'm not counting them this week because I didn't obtain a close-up observation, and don't know when the flowering began or whether it is over.
A significant upswing in the number of flowers this week probably signifies the peaking of bloom following the rains in early and mid January. It may also reflect a very warm week, typically around 85F in the middle of the day. Deciding on which flower is most spectacular is a subjective judgment. The one that most appeals to me is the strigose lotus (Acmispon strigosus) because of its numbers and distribution, being sprinkled widely up and down the north hillside, but most prevalent in the mid north hillside.
Another spectacular arrival is the hoary leaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius var. planus). Observations over several years indicate this species blooms at times related to the rainfall. If there is no rainfall, there are no flowers. That isn't so much a characteristic with most other species.