Hillside walk, 28 March 2016

This year's grand flowering performance continues, despite the enormous crop of mustard and grasses. In Canyon 8, some of the mustard is six feet high! Walking almost anywhere on the hillsides is currently a slow business, requiring care because the regular tracks that I take are smothered by plants.

This week the most spectacular flowers of the north hillside are those of Canterbury bells (Phacelia minor). Numerous other species are also doing excellently although not so noticeable. For example, Canyon 5 has a large array of bitter cress (Cardamine oligosperma) in places where I've not seen it before. On the mid north hillside, common muila (Muila maritima) has now had flowers for four weeks in a row, which is something I've not seen before. Furthermore, this week three of them are blooming on the mid north hillside, a record.

Some species are favorites as food for animals, presumably the mule deer. Most obvious in this regard is the California primrose (Eulobus californicus). There are lots of these plants, probably many hundreds, on the lower north hillside, and virtually all of them have been eaten, in most cases down to an inch or so from the ground. As a result I saw only a single flower today, when I should have seen dozens, or hundreds. The stinging lupine is another tasty item for the deer. While some flowers persist on the north hillside, most of the plants there and in Canyon 8 are substantially eaten. On the other hand, death camas (Toxicoscordion sp.) on the upper west hillside is flowering prolifically — there is just a single plant, which I've observed for the past three years — and no animal dares eat it.

Newly blooming this week are some of the richest-looking species of the hillsides, notably whispering bells (Emmenanthe peduliflora var. peduliflora) and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida). The south hillside has a single sunflower plant (probably Heterotheca annuus), which I first noticed last week, complete with a large bud on top; but it's still a bud.

A completely new species this week, which I've not previously seen on these hillsides, is California chicory (Rafinesquia californica).

It's inspiring to see such an array of wildflowers although some of them will now quickly fade away. If we receive some further rain in the next few weeks, there could a fresh, late blooming. That really would be nice.

Wild hyacinth

Wild hyacinth

Miniature lupine

California sun cup

Two color everlasting

Blue elderberry

Western nettle

California chicory

Wild cucumber

Western sycamore

California bluebells

Wishbone bush

Strigose lotus

Wishbone bush

Morning glory

California bluebells

California bluebells

Stinging lupine

California bluebells

California primrose

Spiny redberry

Chamise

Chamise

Southern honeysuckle

California coffeeberry

Strigose lotus

California bluebells

Rattlesnake weed

Hoaryleaf ceanothus

Upper north hillside

Common muilla

Common muilla

Cobweb thistle

Chamise

Morning glory

Desert bush sunflower

Mid north hillside

California plantain

California liverwort

Black sage

Blue elderberry

Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry

Holly leaf redberry

Common eucrypta

Black sage

Bitter cress

Skunkbrush

Bitter cress

Common eucrypta

Danny's skullcap

Danny's skullcap

Chaparral currant

Collar lupine

Lemonade berry

Bush monkey flower

Danny's skullcap

Morning glory

Popcorn flower

West hillside

Caterpillar phacelia

Scrub oak

Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry

Coffee fern

Leafy California buckwheat

Popcorn flower

Common fiddleneck

Popcorn flower

Death camas

Death camas

Common fiddleneck

Holly leaf cherry

Narrow leaved bedstraw

Toyon

Ropevine clematis

Douglas's nightshade

Golden currant

Deerweed

Dodder

California everlasting

Bush monkey flower

Mulefat

Mulefat

Whispering bells

Caterpillar phacelia

California chicory

Miniature lupine

   

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