Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Wildflowers

I've been on a hiking binge. I started last Friday hiking Oak Canyon with my grandson, then spent the next four days hiking around Palos Verdes in search of wildflowers. I found lots and also found some new places to explore.

Two of those new places are the
Portuguese Bend Reserve and Forrestal Reserve, both part of what is now called the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve. Abalone Cove and Lunada Canyon are also part of this preserve.

As with Carbon Canyon which I blogged about a year ago, there was a fire in the Portuguese Bend Reserve last August. The same effect can be seen here that was seen in Carbon Canyon. The hillsides are covered with Black Mustard or Brassica nigre (all those yellow flowers) making a stark contrast with the blackened trees. It was very beautiful on Sunday as I hiked down what is called Burma Rd. which is actually the extension of Crenshaw Blvd.

One plant that was in abundance was this phacelia which we have determined after much study is a Branching Phacelia or Phacelia ramosissima. However, it is not the variety that I have seen in Oak Canyon (var. ramosissima) and I would love to know what it is. And the hillsides were covered with it!

Another plant that is doing very well after the fire is a rare and endangered species of Mariposa Lily, the Catalina Mariposa Lily or Calochortus catalinae. My friend Yvetta told me there were some lilies growing along Burma Rd. but when I hiked down the road on Sunday, I didn't see them. Then she told me that they were in some of my photos only far away on the opposite hillside in the burn area. Perhaps you can see one cloud of white flowers in the blackened area on the far slope in the photo below. So I made a second trip to this reserve with my big telephoto lens. But even though that produced photos that could enable a person to identify the blooms as lilies, I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to get up close and take photos right down the throat of the blooms.

Fortunately, at Forrestal Reserve there are blooms that you can get up close to. By luck I stumbled on about a hundred flowers at the top of what is called Fossil Hill. This was on my fifth day of hiking around. I was able to take about a hundred photos before it started to rain.

Well worth the effort, I think. I also found these striking Indian Paintbrush plants (Castilleja affinis).

Hiking canyons means going downhill a lot and then unfortunately you have to climb back uphill. So now my feet and my shins are sore but I am one happy camper.

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