Hike in San Luis Obispo's coastal hills

Just over the hills from Avila Beach is the trailhead of a hike I've done once before.

There's plenty of Mimulus. Some fading to brown:

And some still fresh:

And Poison Oak, already turning red in places:

The lupine has reached and passed it's peak. This is one of the few flowers left:

Lupine seed pods go suddenly from a normal pod shape as they ripen to a helix-like shape that explosively releases and scatters seed. This is known as explosive dehiscence. Poppies do it too.

Lupine seed ripening:

Lupine seed ripened and scattered:

The plant community is coastal woodland on the inland side of the hill with manzanita growing in exposed areas where it can get sun and California Live Oak elsewhere.

There's a flowering plant that I couldn't identify:

Here's the leaves of my mystery plant:

And there's hummingbird sage:

And there's a great view from the top

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Ubiquitous tiny yellow meadow flower

Perhaps it's too small to be found in most popular references. This is all over the Sierra right now.

Hypericum doesn't seem right.

I wonder what it is.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Seen around camp

My best guess is Arctostaphylos patula (Greenleaf manzanita).

Iris hartwegii (Hartweg's Iris):

This is smaller than the more widespread variety, Iris missouriensis, and is found in dry pine forests. Colors range around camp, with some paler yellow and white.

Lupinus breweri has a matted, clumping, growth habit.

The flowers look like this:

And this:

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Seen on the way to Reservoir Lake

Cool log cabin. There's a number of more modern structures and an extensive packing / camping operation out of here. This is just under 7000 feet.

Kennedy Meadow:

Wyethia mollis (Wooly Mules Ears), just coming into bloom:

Looking back the way we've just come:

Old hardrock mine. It looks collapsed just inside.

Reservoir Lake. It's owned by PG&E, presumably to provide water for hydropower further downstream.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Seen on a hike to Cleo's baths

Lupinus stiversii (Harlequin lupine):

Meadowlands, with a bazillion ladybugs.

Dudleya calcicola (Limestone Dudleya), I think, on a granite outcropping.


Manzanita leaves with parasitic insect action: none, new, and old:


Calochortus venustus (Butterfly Maroppsa Lily), I think. I found only two of these and the other was not yet in bloom. This has three-fold symmetry. I wonder how common that is? Maybe only lillies have it?

Castilleja lemmonii (Meadow Paintbrush) buy it could also be C. applegatei or some other.

Calyptridium umbellatum (Pussypaws): not shown.

The baths:

I went in, but it was so cold that it got painful very rapidly. This was snow melt only an hour or so ago.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Sierra meadow, ~5700 ft

I'm at Lair of the Bear with family. Few wildflowers are to be found due to the recent end of winter. This meadow had one blooming plant that I think is Dodecatheon hendersonii aka Sailor Caps or Mosquito Cap, though I would have called them Shooting Stars.

This is right in the middle of camp. In a few weeks there ought to be some wildflowers.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Snow plant, Sarcodes sanguinea

Snow plants seem one of the first to bloom in the Sierra. They derive energy from soil mycorrhizae, which in turn get their energy from roots and soil decomposition processes. I read some time ago that they are edible, like asparagus, however they are protected and I've never tasted them.

Last year we saw fewer of these and more flowers of other types, indicating a later stage in the bloom cycle. With many trail heads still snowed in this year, peak bloom seems a ways off. Maybe we'll get lucky and see it start to come in.

Here's some babies, I think, about 3" tall at the peak.

A comment from Dylan Eichenberg drew my attention to my misidentification of the picture below.  He rightly points out that it is Pine Drops (Pterospora andromedea).

Pine Drops (Pterospora andromedea)

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Bees galore

This one Matilija poppy flower attracted nearly all the bees. There were plenty more to chose from, including at least one with similar open petals. The majority of flowers weren't open quite so much as this folded back, dinner plate-like flower.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone

Artichoke season II

At the farmers market today they were charging 4 bucks for one of these - the same price as one suitable for cooking.

- Posted at great expense from my iPhone


Embedded Water III

Thanks to Watering the Desert blog, I was pointed to an article in The Economist magazine that examines the concept of embedded water, previously discussed here in this blog.  I'm glad that I wasn't completely credulous when reading the embedded water tables.  From the friendly article:

On the back of the business card handed out by Tony Allan, the father of the [embedded water] concept, are the virtual-water values of various products: 70 litres for an apple, 1,000 for a litre of milk, 11,000 for a kilo of cotton, and so on. The value for a copy of The Economist is not included, but it has been calculated by the Green Press Initiative at about 11½ litres. That is little more than the 10 litres Mr Allan has for a single sheet of A4 paper, which suggests the exercise is inexact. 

It can also be misleading. The oft-quoted figures of 2,400 litres for a hamburger and 15,500 for a kilo of beef lead to the conclusion that eating cows must be unconscionable. Yet some cows valued primarily for their milk may still end up on a plate, and others may be well suited to graze on grassland that would be useless for growing cash crops. In Africa a kilo of beef can be produced with as little as 146 litres of water. Moreover, virtual-water content will vary according to climate and agricultural practice. SABMiller uses 45 litres of water to make a litre of beer in the Czech Republic, but 155 litres in South Africa. In other words, the merit of virtual water is not to give precise figures but to alert people that they might be better off growing different crops, or moving their manufacturing to another country.