Hillside walk, 19 April 2016

Walking on the hillside this week is so much easier than in the previous two or three weeks because much of the grass is dying and most of the mustard is beginning to dry out. That is, it's easier to see the ground, where to place one's feet! It's also time to wear gaiters to prevent sharp grass seeds from entering one's socks. Without the gaiters, this week's walk would have been most unpleasant.

Despite the drying out of almost everything on the hillsides, a good variety of flowers continues. Most significant this week is the discovery in Canyon 5 of the showy penstemon (Penstemon spectablis) in bloom. This is the first time I've seen this species on these hillside.

As one would expect, California fuchsia (Ribes speciosum) has generally finished blooming. However, in Canyon 3 it has fresh flowers, perhaps a result of the brief rain storm a few weeks ago. Maybe the storm is also responsible for the resurgence of strigose lotus (Acmispon strigosus) in small numbers on the mid north hillside; last week there was none of them. Then amazingly this week we have even more of blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum), some with more than a dozen flowers in the one flower head. And this week we have so many California suncups (Camissoniopsis bistorta) compared to last week, even though the ground and the plants themselves look drier.

Showy penstemon

Showy penstemon

Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry

Wild hyacinth

Valley cholla


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