Sunday, May 6, 2012

Slate Creek, Part 3

This early in the season, the Corn Lilies, Veratrum californicum, seem particularly handsome and full of life.  Every time I see a new specimen that strikes me as perfect, I feel compelled to post it.  They are mostly between 1 and 2 feet tall around the back roads near Quincy.  They'll be mostly 4 to 6 feet tall in early summer before they bloom at this altitude, then bloom as late as late July at the high elevation meadows.  The Parsley Fern, Cryptogramma acrostichoides, is another lively number.  Early in the spring they are rather leafy and don't look like a fern unless you look closely at the wiry brown stems.  These present a large surface area to the sun to optimize photosynthesis.  Later in summer they start to produce a drier-looking leaf (frond) with sori (spore producers) on the undersides.  I find the plant particularly attractive when then new sorus-bearing fronds appear while there are still plenty of leafy ones present.  Looks like two plants in one.  The last two photos are versions of Horsetails, Equisetum arvense.  They are, in fact, ferns also.  The greener ones in the third photo are young sterile fronds.  With lots of side branches they can perform lots of photosynthesis to aid early season growth.  Later, the fertile fronds appear (bottom photo).  They have no branches and do have spore-bearing organs at their tops.  This pair happen to be persistent from last season.  THe fresh ones that'll arrive in another month or so are green and look just like the sterile fronds except for the lack of branches.  Both versions have obvious segments resembling bamboo.  They have a high silica content and can be used to scour camp cooking pots, giving rise to another common name: Scouring Rush.  That's all from Slate Creek until I pay another visit.  Next on my agenda is Butterfly Valley - unless I get distracted.

No comments:

Post a Comment