Flowers and Fires

Finally it is spring again.  Last year we were ordered to stay close to home and parks were closed because of Covid, so I missed out on all my California wildflower outings.  I’m making up for it this year!

First hike: on the King Mountain trail just north of San Francisco April 1. All of the photos show indigenous species.

The views were nice too. Below is the northern part of San Francisco Bay.  In the distance is Mt. Diablo – a landmark for miles around. 

Below the bird, the peninsula jutting out next to the bridge is San Quentin Prison; at least they have fresh air and the sound of the birds – a few miles away is the prison of Birdman of Alcatraz fame.

Collinisia heterophylla, Chinese Houses – the petals ring the stem in bands evenly spaced around the stem, forming a “pagoda” – hence the common name.
Chinese Houses en masse at another nearby location.

A week later we drove north to Lake Berryessa where one of the huge fires burned last year. A silver lining can be seen in the hills and meadows: wildflowers and other natives can really make a come-back when European weeds are killed off and they don’t have to compete for sun, water and food. Fires also helps eradicate plant diseases and possibly serious insect infestations.


Golden poppies, Eschscholzia californica, taking over a burnt hill. This is not an uncommon sight.They provide vegetative cover that helps to reduce erosion on steep slopes after the protective plant cover has been burned off.  

  

Another survivor. How did this species survive a mega fire? These large Gopher Snakes (this one was almost 5-ft. long) mimic rattlesnakes, but are not poisonous.

Clematis ligusticifolia virgin bower. This is the native clematis vine.

Welcome sweet springtime – clad in Mother Nature’s jewelry!

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 Canada 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

A Few Wildflowers

Here are a few photos of spring from parks in Marin County, California.

Delphinium – or larkspur (note the “spur” at the top).

 

Gilia capitata from Azalea Hill.

 

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Several views of Calochortus umbellatus – a small lily also known as the Oakland star tulip.

 

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Fritillaria sp. – or Mission bells from Mt. Tamalpais

 

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A few more lovelies

 

I came upon a small hill that was like a wild garden, covered with several species. Shown here are annual lupin on the left,  owl’s clover (out of focus) behind and the ubiquitous California poppy on the right.