Sunday, March 11, 2012

Table Mountain: A Wildflower Sampler

Here's my first set of photos from yesterday's adventure on Table Mountain.  The wild onions alone could keep a photographer busy for along time.  Beautiful as they emerge from cracks in the volcanic rock.  Every blossom in a different setting - possible backgrounds include companion flowers of other species, lichens, different colors of mud, Sedum, and variations in the surrounding rocks.  The next photo is of a tiny Plantain, the Dwarf Plantain, Plantago erecta, which I had never seen before.  The individual blossoms are around an eighth-inch across.  Even though there were solid carpets of these, they are easily missed amongst the surrounding grasses and linear leaves of other plants. The next two photos are of the Douglas's Violet, the second photo of which I'm dedicating to my adventuring companions of the late '60s, the Meadow Muffins.  They'll know why.  The last two photos are of Bitterroot, one of the spectacular blossoms on the mountain.  They haven't reached peak bloom yet, so I'll have to admit the first photo is from last  spring.  The bottom photo was taken yesterday however.  Much more to come.  Stay tuned.
Here's a taxonomic summary fopr the botanically inclined.
The onion on top is Allium cratericola, locally known as the Volcanic Onion, although in most field guides it's called the Cascade Onion, if it appears at all.  In my old Jepson, (c) 1925, the onions are still in the lily family and this particular species doesn't appear.  Now the Alliums are in the Amaryllidaceae.  They will be featured in the booklet I'm writing called "Those Elusive Lilioids."
The Dwarf Plantain, Plantago erecta, is a native member of the Plantaginaceae, although the non-native English Plantain, P. lanceolata is a much better known plantain.  The Douglas Violet, Viola douglasii, is one of several yellow violets found in the Sierra.  The back sides of these blossoms are a deep brownish purple, and the leaves are a very small mass, not so distinctive as the leaves of most other species.  The Bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva, is a member of the Purslane family, Portulacaceae, and has been taxonomically stable for quite some time.

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