Hillside walk, 20 March 2017
The peak of spring bloom is here. The count of flowering species is unlikely to increase very much further, if at all. The regular spring masses such as four o'clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia) and Canterbury bells (Phacelia minor) are at there best. The strigose lotus (Acmispon strigosus) continues in it thousands. The oak trees (Quercus sp.) have heaps of bloom. Three species of lupine are flowering. The birch leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides var. betuloides) is blooming to an extent I've not seen in previous years. The California suncup (Camissoniopsis bistorta) shows up in many places across the hillside. The popcorn flower (Cryptantha sp.), while not as tall or thick is earlier years, is prolific. The blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum) are widespread. How rewarding to see the ropevine clematis (Clematis pauciflora) flowering freely on upper Lida Street. We even have whispering bells (Emmenanthe peduliflora var. peduliflora) beginning to flower on the south hillside. Common muilla (Muilla maritima) is starting to bloom on the mid north hillside. And so on and on.
This week produced a species not previously recorded in this survey, Kellogg's snapdragon (Antirrhinum kelloggii), with three plants blooming on the south hillside.
Despite the upsurge in flowers, the hillsides are not as attractive as they have been on some earlier years because the grass and other weeds are so long. Some flowers sit permanently down in the grasses. In fact, the hillsides are no longer so green because most grasses are now in seed, which is not bright green, and which flops over in a way that destroys the uniform color of the hillsides.1
It's also apparent that we now have a drying trend, having had no substantial rain for over a month. As a result, the spike moss (Selanginella bigelovii) has died off completely in Canyon 6. Also, the liverworts (Asterella californica) are retreating, with many having lost their receptacles before they could develop spores.