Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Last from Table Mountain - Until Next Time

The icon in the top photo is the huge Valley Oak, Quercus lobata, that greets hikers near the entrance to the widlife preserve on Table Mountain.  I've shown the photo to several people in Quincy, and each one instantly recognized it. 
Toward the end of last Saturday's hike, we crawled around on the ground looking at the tiny Sedum, actually a smaller cousin of the Sierra Stonecrop, Sedum obtusatum.  This one is the Dwarf-stonecrop, Sedella pumila, AKA Parvisedum pumilum.  In the course of our snooping we came across some romantically-engaged Ladybugs, the Convergent Ladybird Beetles.  In the third photo from the top you'll see an interloper moving toward a couple who are busy.  In the forth photo, you'll see he has joined the fun.  Next are two photos of the seed pods of a species of Filaree or Storksbill.  This geranium relative is Erodium sp., but used to be lumped into the same genus as the geraniums.  THere are many non-native species in California - across the USA, in fact - and they can be difficult to distinguish.  When the seeds mature and the air and soil get dry, the filaments on the seeds curl up and separate.  By the time they fall to the ground, they resemble tightly-wound screws, sometimes with 20 or more windings.  If you pick a seed pod just before it's ready to wind up on its own, the individual seeds will curl up in your hand, a surprisingly quick process.  During spring rains, as the filaments absorb moisture, the screws uncurl, driving the seeds into the ground - at least a high percentage of them.  The last photo is of Lacepod, or Fringepod, a member of the mustard family, Brassicaceae.  This species is Thysanocarpus curvipes. 

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