More California Wildflowers 2019

The ubiquitous California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and a fiddleneck to the left.

Now that the drought has broken, California is bursting with wildflowers. These pictures were taken in two areas south of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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There were carpets of baby blue eyes (above) in Canyon del Oro– although this is a subspecies that is white rather than baby-blue. Contrast the colour with this one from Pacheco Park.

 

 

Woodland star –Lithophraga affine. Flowers are approx. 3/4 in. or 1 cm. across.

 

 

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Pacheco Park also had hillsides covered in blooms. The dominant species were shooting stars and violas.

 

 

This species of shooting stars, Dodecatheon clevelandii, takes on different colours.

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“To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour” – William Blake

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* Desert Wildflowers and Cactus * 2019: Anza Borrego Part II – central and southern sections

As we drove south the flora began to change slightly – more ocotillo, agaves and many more cacti. I’d been looking for the magenta monkeyflower yesterday, without any luck, but found them to be plentiful up a couple of desert washes.

 

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Mimulus bigelovii – this monkeyflower only grows a few inches high but makes up for its size in brilliant color.

 

There are many types of cacti; here are the three common ones we saw.  The first group of slides show a group of  barrel cacti.

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Opuntia cacti are jointed. The prickly pear group can be flattened like the “beavertails,”  (Opuntia basilaris) below.

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Opuntia can also be rounded like the Teddy bear cholla (they still have “joints”). The spines are attached in a star pattern and break off in a cluster that are easy to sit or kneel on when trying to take a picture of something else. Ouch. I also found them deeply embedded in the toes of my boots and hard to get out.

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Desert sunflower Geraea canescens

 

Ocotillo (Fourquieriaceae splendens) a characteristic shrub of the desert, can reach 20-feet in height. The scarlet flowers had just begun to bud out last week so I imagine they are putting on a show now.

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(all photos by CCM except “beavertails” as noted)

Anza Borrego Wildflowers: Part 1, northern section

There are many wildflowers in the northern section of Anza Borrego Desert Park… and many people vying to see them. When we came to the desert years ago – make that decades ago – we had the desert to ourselves. You just had to make sure you had enough water and gas and brought along some food. Today with social media, nature has become entertainment and people are well-informed as to when the flowers are blooming. To counter this we rented a four-wheel vehicle to go on the back sandy roads, but we weren’t the only ones who thought of that! Still it is a vast area and you only have to hike a little ways up a canyon wash to have the landscape yourself.

Anza B0rrego pse
                                                         photo by CCM

 

Desert lily  – a bloom you see after a wet winter.  It is found in nature only in the desert areas of the North American southwest – favoring Anza Borrego. Unlike most genera, Hesperocallis is a genus solely for this single species.  It is a bulb that can send a stem up to 4 feet high, although these are just getting started.  Native Americans used the bulb like garlic.

 

 

 

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Tall lupin (Lupinus arizonicus) with desert verbena (Abronia villosa) in the background.

 

Perhaps my favorite desert flower is the evening primroseOenothera.

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I’m really not sure if I have ID’ed the two species correctly but I think Oenothera deltoides is taller and Oenothera caespitosa blooms from a basal rosette of leaves. (if anyone has further information I would be grateful.)

Desert sunflowersGeraea canescens

 

The caterpillars are coming!  The sphinx moth caterpillars (and others) hatch shortly after the first wildflowers and begin munching on the delicate flowers and new shoots. They can decimate 100 acres in a few days.  They consider evening primroses (Oenothera) a particular delicacy.

 

 

 

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On the positive side when the sphinx moths hatch they pollinate the flowers – and they are attractive don’t you think?  I was standing in a patch of verbena and thought I was being buzzed by hummingbirds, but it was the hovering, swift flight patterns of the (2-3”) sphinx moths.

They were too fast for my camera so I gratefully borrow this beautiful photo of a sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) fr. Ronnie Pitman.

 

Verbena landscape with a few sunflowers sprinkled in.

Next week Part II – Central and southern Anza Borrego.

 (All photos by CCM unless otherwise credited.)

 

 

WILDFLOWER SEASON HAS BEGUN!

Catalina mariposa lily -Calochortus catalinae

California has been in a drought since 2011.  The 2018-19 rainy season has finally lived up to its name however and the drought is declared over.  There was decent rain in 2017, but a drought is gauged not only by the amount of precipitation, but also the snowpack, soil moisture, stream flow and how full the reservoirs are….
To me it also means a bountiful wildflower season.

This wild mariposa lily was a new find.  A rare native limited to small area in southern California. Yet we found them blooming by the dozens on a little patch in the Santa Ana Range west of Lake Elsinore. They were just waiting for the last 8 years for the rains (I’m not kidding).

Those who live in southern California have heard of the super bloom at Lake Elsinore. Unfortunately 100s of thousands of people from LA and other nearby cities went to see. Thus we didn’t stop-  it doesn’t make for a very wild experience if you are sharing it with crowds.  We could see the California poppies covering the hills above the freeway in the distance, however I didn’t take a photo as it was too hazy.  Here is one of many photos, posted on the internet,  I disapprove of – a couple sitting on the flowers:

So many people trampling the flowers. Over the weekend California officials declared an emergency due to the massive influx of visitors at Lake Elsinore and shut down the parking and freeway access!

But let me leave you  with one more photo of Calochortus catalinae. The male anthers are diagnostically pink – in contrast to other mariposa lilies. (“Mariposa” means butterfly.)

We are in route to the desert of Anza Borrego: my next post.

Read an E-book Week

Welcome to the 10th annual Read an E-book Week. The Smashwords site is offering A Place in the World ( set in the Colombian cloud forest) for $1  this week only. (As of last night Amazon was also matching the price on their Kindle books – let me know if you have trouble with that).

You will find thousands of other e-books that are free or deep-discounted this week through March 9. These include multi-formats (Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Apple users, Kobo and more) in their e-catalog. If you find books you recommend on this site  please let others know by commenting below.

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Wikipedia says “The main reasons more people are buying e-books online are  lower prices, increased comfort (as they can buy from home or on the go with mobile devices) and a larger selection of titles…In the space that a comparably sized physical book takes up, an e-reader can contain thousands of e-books, limited only by its memory capacity. Depending on the device, an e-book may be readable in low light or even total darkness.”

The last two sentences are the reasons I take my e-reader when I travel, but then, I confess, I often prefer to hold a”real” book (unless it is more than 300 pages or so!).

What about you: e-books or print?

Belize Wildlife, Part 1 of 2

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Resplendant Quetzal

I remember seeing some of these wonderful birds on a hike in Belize. Also in Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama – the rainforest is a treasure trove I had to write about. I have to reblog Jet Eliot’s post ( click link below)!

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CR motmot

Motmot

 

reblogging from Jet Eliot via Belize Wildlife, Part 1 of 2

Black History Month: A starter reading list

Black History Month began in 1926 as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It still pays tribute to those who struggle(d) against unfairness and adversity. It is celebrated in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. February was chosen as the birthday month of two men who greatly influenced the black American population, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. Also in February, 1870 black citizens were granted the right to vote (at least legally) in the US; in February 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded and Rosa Parks was also born in February (1913). For more information go to https://asalh.org/


Below is a short list of some books by or about people of African descent that I have enjoyed. They reflect multiple themes and genres and are in no particular order.

41SKsBaGXRL._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_I know Why the Caged Bird Sings –  
a wondrous memoir by Maya Angelou  

 

Dreams from my Father:

A story of race and inheritance by Barack Obama

 

 

AmericanMarriage     An American Marriage by Tayari Jones –the sad tale of a black man sent to prison and of lives ripped apart

 

I loved this book

The Help by Kathryn Stockett shopping-1

(and the movie too) set in Mississippi in the 1960’s

ThingsFallApart      Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – great literature about pre-colonial life in Nigeria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ColorPurple             The Color Purple by Alice Walker – a very moving novel set the 1930’s

 

Hidden_Figures_book_cover      Hidden Figures by Lee Shetterly– about four black women and the space race (and yes – also a good movie!).

 

On My To Read LIST:

414JfiBCutL Becoming – a memoir by the inspirational Michelle Obama (on most every one’s list!)

 

frederick-douglass-9781416590316_lg    Frederick Douglass by David Blight, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

Contra Costa County Libraries also has a list of recommendations along the lines of Black Migrations: go to https://guides.ccclib.org/blackhistorymonth
There are so many more. Please add your own favorites in the comments below for others to enjoy.