Category Archives: photography|wildflowers

Blazing Star

Blazing Star (Mentzelia laevicaulis)

Blazing star,
Dancing shadows,
It looms above…

The Baldy Peaks 50K (currently in hiatus) is without a doubt the most challenging 50K I’ve done. This race climbs to the summit of Mt. Baldy twice, once from the village and once from Manker Flats. And after climbing Baldy twice, you get to amble over to Thunder Mountain as well. The total elevation gain (and loss) is reported to be 10,775 ft.

Race organizers asked endorphin influenced runners to write a poem on the second ascent of the peak.

This particular Blazing Star (Mentzelia laevicaulis) was on the Manzanita Trail, between South Fork Campground and Vincent Gap. In the Baldy Peaks race they were along the service road between the Notch and Manker Flats.

Google search: $g(poetry), $g(Mt. Baldy)

Holly-leaved Cherry

The feathery blossoms of the holly-leaved cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) reveal a peculiar flower whose many stamens resemble the tentacles of a sea anemone.

A closer look at the feathery blossoms of the holly-leaved cherry (Prunus ilicifolia) reveal a peculiar flower whose many stamens resemble the tentacles of a sea anemone.

Holly-leaved cherry is a member of the genus Prunus — the same as apricots, peaches, plums and cherries. As is the case with other species in this genus, the seed and leaves may contain hydrogen cyanide. It produces a small, thin-fleshed fruit favored by coyotes.

The photograph was taken on the slopes of Rivas Canyon near Will Rogers State Historic Park, while doing the route described in the post Will Rogers – Temescal Loop. Once again the weather for this (approximately) 21.5 mile loop was post-card perfect. A Google Earth image of a GPS trace of the route is available in the earlier post.

Dealing With Drought

Goldfields (Lasthenia spp.) on Lasky Mesa in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve.

This photograph of goldfields (Lasthenia spp.) was taken on a run on Lasky Mesa in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve (formerly Ahmanson Ranch) almost exactly one year ago.

This April I haven’t seen any goldfields on Lasky Mesa. The soil is too dry for the seeds to germinate. The drought in Southern California has suppressed or delayed the growth of these, and many other species of wildflowers. This is one of the ways that annuals deal with drought — if the growing conditions aren’t appropriate, they don’t grow.

Black mustard, an invasive annual from Europe, is a hardy plant that is a good indicator of Winter rainfall. In 2005 and 2006 the mustard at Ahmanson Ranch was 6′ to 8′ tall and very widespread. This year its growth has been very limited, and the plants are diminutive in comparison.

Plants deal with drought in many other ways, such as dropping leaves, changing the leaf distribution, reducing the size of the leaf, changing the leaf orientation, modifying the shape of the leaf, or changing the leaf color. Flowering may be suppressed, or the flowering time shortened. In some cases the flower may be reduced, or viable fruit may not be produced. Branchlets or stems may be lost. Any life prolonging tactic may be employed when survival is at stake.

According to the NWS, if Los Angeles (USC) receives less than 1.95 inches of rain between now and June 30th, this water year (July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007) will become the driest since recordkeeping began in 1877. At this point in the season, a new record seems more likely than not.

It was only 5 years ago (2001-2002) that Los Angeles experienced its driest water year so far, recording only 4.42 inches.

Related post: A Little Rain in Los Angeles

Bush Monkeyflower

Bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) readily hybridizes, producing a myriad of forms and colors.

Bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) readily hybridizes, producing a myriad of forms and colors, and some interesting work for botanists. This plant pictured above may be a hybrid of local salmon and scarlet colored forms.

Update June 10, 2011. The Diplacus section of Mimulus has been the source of much taxonomic turmoil, with the number of species varying from two to 13. Research by Tulig & Clarke found that most named taxa in this group can be distinguished based on morphological characteristics. Accordingly, the monkeyflower pictured above would correspond to a variety of Diplacus longiflorus (Southern bush monkeyflower).

The scarlet variety is sometimes referred to as Diplacus rutilus (Santa Susana bush monkeyflower).

From a run near Sage Ranch on March 26, 2007.

Eastwood Manzanita

Ants forage among the blossoms of Eastwood manzanita on the Chumash Trail in Rocky Peak Park.

Ants forage among the blossoms of Eastwood manzanita on the Chumash Trail in Rocky Peak Park. From a run on Wednesday, March 21, 2007.

Some related posts: Chumash-Las Llajas Loop, Chumash-Hummingbird Loop, San Fernando Valley from Rocky Peak, Chumash Trail Snow.

California Prickly Phlox

California prickly phlox (Leptodactylon californicum) likes warm, rocky, southwest facing slopes.

A Winter bloomer, California prickly phlox (Leptodactylon californicum) likes warm, rocky, southwest facing slopes where it can bask in the afternoon sun. The flowers have a subtle, musty-sweet fragrance that is especially pleasant when encountered on a still evening, in fading twilight, near the end of a run.