Hillside walk, 08 March 2016

The count of 43 native species blooming this week matches the record peak in mid March of last year.

The 52 mm of rain in the past two days, including a brief, violent thunderstorm yesterday morning, with hail, will serve to prolong the spring bloom. The hillsides already have a wonderful variety of flowers, even if not in prolific numbers, and hopefully many of these will now continue over the coming weeks. yesterday's storm left many flowers with torn or damaged petals, especially noticeable on large, soft flowers such as California bluebells (Phacelia minor).

Meanwhile, the amount of greenery on the hillsides is enormous, in places making it difficult to see the way ahead, especially where the going is steep.

The usual gradual rotation of flowering species is in full swing. For example, this week the ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius var. planus), telegraph weed (Heterotheca grandiflora), and black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) have no flowers at all, while the wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpa) and birch leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides) have just a few old blooms. Against this, the new blooms this week include Danny's skullcap (Scutellaria tuberosa), common fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia), collar lupine (Lupinus truncatus), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), and western nettle (Hesperocnide tenella) — an impressive list, and typical of the glorious peak of spring.

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