Monday, August 25, 2008


We had our canyon walk at Lunada Canyon for the month of August on Saturday. The canyon is pretty dry right now and whatever the blight was that we observed in July, it has done its worst and moved on. Some of the plants have survived and put out new growth, others look dead or dormant and we won't know if they are still viable until the fall rains start. Some hardy plants, like the California Fuschia, Lemonadeberry, and the California Sunflower above, were budding and blooming anyway. How do they do that with no water? (Check out the bug I happened to catch in mid flight in the photo.) California Buckwheat was still in full bloom but starting to seed.

This Cliff Aster shows how some of the plants have managed to send out new growth despite having blackened stems. Cliff Aster was blooming all over the wide path that has been bulldozed on the left side of the trail, most likely because of fire concerns. There was no sign of any of the lupines or the California Poppy.

This time I decided to pay closer attention to the weeds that have sprung up at the top of the trail where there is some cement. The stuff is breaking through any cracks and has gotten quite tall. I was hoping that even if these are weeds, that they might be California native weeds, but no such luck. This is Bristly Oxtongue, Picris echioides. It is a European weed that has naturalized in the U.S. It can actually be eaten when young.

There was another plant nearby (photo on the right) that had similar flowers, but different leaves. I am not sure if it is the same thing or not.

And one other plant (photo on the left) also had yellow flowers, but was definitely a different plant. It was really hard to tell what some of these plants were because they were not in very good shape. But these flowers were smaller and more of a lemon-yellow color. Like the oxtongue, the leaves were hairy. The stems were downright thorny.

Below is a picture of Cheeseweed or Little Mallow, Malva parviflora, with its lovely purple flowers. The fruit resembles a miniature wheel of cheese, hence the name. It was also introduced from Europe but long enough ago that the Mission Indians used the stems to weave cloth. Cheeseweed has medicinal uses as well.

While trolling my blog list yesterday, I discovered a link to a wonderful native plant, native Indian, native everything blog by Deborah Small of CSUSM (Cal State University San Marcos). On her blog, she talks of making tuna juice from the fruit of the Prickly Pear, basket weaving, and making tea from sycamore bark and woolly blue curls. There's poetry, too, and the photos are stunning!
I work collaboratively with my art students at California State University San Marcos to help protect native lands, document cultural practices, and learn the native plants so essential to indigenous cultures as well as to the many species who share this particular part of the planet.
Small has written a book on what she calls routine contaminations referring to all the poisons and pollutants that are now part of our everyday life, and check out this booklet called Hidden Meadows on the role of archaeologists in new developments. Thank you Brent.

1 comment:

  1. How nice of you to return the favor of reminding me of Deborah's blog.

    I had forgotten to visit her blog for a while and while catching up on your's I stumbled across this nice reminder.

    She's recently posted about collecting rose hips. Maybe I'll be able to do that next year when my Rosa californica is a bit more mature.