Hillside walk, 27 February 2017
At the start of today's hillside walk the air temperature was 49F (9C). I am reminded that on a visit to inland South Africa we were told that the wildflowers need a temperature of at least 15C in order to open; and that's exactly what occurred.
A parallel exists here. With today's cold morning, a number of flowers were barely open, including the California suncup (Camissoniopsis bistorta), and even the widespread weed filarees (Erodium sp.). The suncup was especially disappointing, with flowers folded up, and barely obvious.
The coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) occurs in multiple places around the hillside, always in canyons. Unlike most flowering species on the hillsides, these trees do not all bloom simultaneously. The flowering time for each individual tree is relatively short, typically no more than a week or two. But they bloom at different times. We've already had a big oak on Lida Street, Canyon 1, finish its blooming two or three weeks ago, and similarly one at the base of Canyon 8. But today one of the oaks on the edge of the main oak-forest area of Canyon 8 is in full bloom. None of the others in that forested area is blooming.
The scrub oak (Quercus sp.) is a little that way, too, but not as pronounced. Today many of them were in full bloom, although some had no sign of flowering.
At the top of the north hillside this week, two nicely developed specimens of telegraph weed (Heterotheca grandiflora) have ample flowers and plenty of fresh leaves. In contrast, the specimen that bloomed through the summer is fading away, and has no flowers.
This week sees several new seasonal flowers. Included is single flowering specimen of blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum) near the bottom of the north hillside, bravely poking its head above the tall grass. Although many flowers are beginning to appear, there remains the appearance that they are competing seriously with a lush crop of grasses.