Hillside walk, 20 November 2017

It's always a long wait to see the full bloom of California sagebrush (Artemisia californica). I watch the buds for many weeks. As the tiny buds become larger, I examine them carefully, wondering whether they are actually in bloom, eventually finding a few that appear to have opened, but not being too sure. And then suddenly they are all out! It reminds me of an experience many years ago learning to pan for gold. So many shiny things appeared in the pan, and it wasn't clear whether or not it was gold. Eventually the crusty old prospector who was instructing me said, in effect: “Stop wondering whether you see gold, don't bother asking me about it. When you see actual gold, you will know it, there will be no question.” That's exactly what we have with the California sagebrush, which after all these weeks is in mass bloom, without any doubt. At a location in Canyon 8 there were even bees on the flowers.

Especially during this dry time of year, these weekly walks are interesting for their surprises. This week's surprise was finding solitary flowers of California brickellbush (Brickellia californica) on a single plant near the top of Canyon 8. This plant had loads of spent flowers, and just a few new flowers.

Once again Canyon 3B had a few blooms of four o'clock (Mirabilis laevis var. crassifolia), seemingly well beyond its usual flowering season.

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