I don't know if I've shared this here yet, but this is my last year (for a while) in San Diego. In August, I'm moving back to Madison, WI to attend grad school for sociology at UW. So that means that I've gotta make this wildflower season count since I won't have another chance any year soon.
It doesn't help that we're in a historic drought. I was honestly so bummed I felt like Christmas had been canceled. But honestly, the wildflowers, well, you can see for yourself...
All I have to say is: THIS is why I love living in California. One of the many reasons, anyway.
I decided to go to an area in Mission Trails (a large park within San Diego) called Shepherd's Pond because it burned last year. I was in another part of the park when the wildfire broke out. It was Father's Day. We had ash raining down on us and we were inhaling smoke. Then a ranger on a loudspeaker told us to evacuate. In the end, the fire was contained rather quickly and most of the park did not burn. But some of it did... and that's a potentially great thing for this year's flowers.
A month later, I visited the burnt area:
Today I sat out a 10 mile hike I was really looking forward to because I'm having major problems with my feet (tendinitis? plantar fascitis?) and they need to rest and heal. So I decided to console myself by going back to the burned area to see what was blooming. There are some flowers that only bloom after fires, and I was hoping some of them would be around (I don't think they were).
I began by seeing some lemonadeberry starting to bloom:
And some locoweed:
Toyon, a.k.a. Christmas Berry, a.k.a. Hollywood does not bloom now. It produces fruit around Christmas and flowers shortly before that.
Another common plant is Laurel Sumac. It blooms much later in the year too. But I've got new affection for this plant because I just read that it can be used as a mosquito repellant. Not that we've got too many mosquitoes (another reason I love California).
At last, I began running into my wildflowers:
One of my favorites, Encelia californica, really isn't doing to well right now. At least not in this location. I've seen some healthy ones along the highways.
San Diego Sunflower's not my favorite flower by far, but I'm really happy with this photo of it:
I've seen some really sad looking white sage plants, like the one in the foreground here, and they worried me a lot about the impact this drought is having, but there are many more very healthy looking white sages around, like the one in the back of this photo.
The closest thing I got to a real wildlife sighting:
Monkeyflower. An oldie but goody.
There was still wild cucumber vines in various stages of growth all over:
Wild Cucumber flower:
Wild cucumber fruit (no, not edible):
Wild Cucumber (Marah macrocarpus) is related to cucumbers - it's in the same family - but you can't eat it. The Kumeyaay tribe used to use the seeds to stun fish so the would float to the surface. Then they would catch them. I don't think that's allowed anymore. They also crushed the seeds to use the oil as a base for paint.
I ran into one of my absolute favorites, Wild Pea:
Some Felt-Leaf Yerba Santa:
A blue dick (which is both gorgeous and has an edible corm):
Wild peas were all over. You can see them growing on this Laurel Sumac:
There was a large area of Wishbone Bush:
Some blue-eyed grass:
If you look closely, you can see that a bee photobombed this next shot:
At last I reached the area that burned last year. Here's how it looks now:
An awful lot of our perennials are "crown sprouters." That means that they have evolved for the entire above ground part of the plant to burn and die in a wildfire, but the below-ground part stays alive and resprouts after the burn.
Regrowth in the burnt area
Despite my high hopes for spectacular wildflowers in this burned area, they were no better or worse than the flowers elsewhere.
More Parish nightshade:
Dodder, a parasite in the morning glory family has attacked this Laurel Sumac with a vengeance. You can see dead branches from where the Laurel Sumac burned, plus new Laurel Sumac growth, plus the orange stuff, which is the dodder.
Another look at dodder on laurel sumac:
I thought I made a really great find, with this flower, but it turns out it's not even a native. It's a Scarlet Pimpernel.
Still more Parish Nightshade:
A California Poppy:
Artemisia california appears to be a crown sprouter. You can really see it here. There was a pretty small plant that burnt, and a lot of healthy growth coming back.
Not the most attractive Morning Glory ever:
I'd heard that Lemonade Berry does not burn and I wasn't sure whether to believe it. Well, here's the proof. A lemonadeberry that clearly was in the wildfire and stayed alive. A lot of foliage did burn, but it's still alive and growing.
New growth on the lemonadeberry that burned.
Chaparral Bushmallow, with bugs:
You can still see the charred bits of grass next to the new growth:
At long last, I reached Shepherd's Pond.
A patch of yellow sweetclover with some other flowers hidden among them:
A really lovely wildflower I couldn't identify:
Black sage and white sage both have scientific names that reflect how much bees love them (Salvia mellifera and S. apiana, respectively). When the black sage is all in bloom, you can hear an audible buzz of bees on the trail. But right now, there's just one poor confused black sage plant that screwed up and bloomed early:
Another favorite, Parry Phacelia:
All in all, I had a great day. If this is a crappy wildflower year, I wish I could be here for a good one.
A view of the park and the trail: