Monday, August 13, 2012

Scenes from a Ditch, Part 2

I just can't take Chicory for granted.  It's such a common roadside weed at this time of year, and it often a victim of the CalTrans weed eaters, that I think its beauty is under-appreciated.  Click on the photo for a closer view and I think you'll find the flower parts amazing.  And, as a coffee enhancement or substitute it's pretty impressive.
Among my favorites on the red end of the spectrum are the Thistles in the genus Cirsium.  And they almost always have interesting guests.
Most of the Klamathweed stands have gone to seed, but in moist shady areas they are still in bloom. 
Most local Salsify have also gone to seed, but in some places they're trying for one last round of blooms.  In my yard, where the early season Salsify usually reach 3 to 4 feet tall before blooming, I am now having a second generation popping up here and there and blooming only a few inches above the ground.  In the ditch, most that are still trying to bloom are around a foot tall.
Goldenrod is in the Sunflower family which is apparent when you get close enough to look at an individual flower head, but they are most impressive to me in large batches.  Their particular shade of yellow stands out.  In late summer, they are among the yellow-blooming species that seem most prevalent.  I've always wondered why the majority of August blooms are yellow.
To the average view, this probably looks like dirty or stagnant water.  To me, the cyanobacteria remind me of our origins.  Our ancestors some 3.5 billion years ago looked a bit like this.
The Mountain Dandelion, Agoseris (above), is a native, but the Common Dandelion,  Taraxacum (below), is not.  I find both of these beautiful and useful and I cannot understand people who apply poison to them for the sake of a pristine lawn, even when children and pets play on those lawns. I guess I'm what Sarah Palin recently called "an out-of-control environmentalist."

The few Birch trees we have around Quincy always remind me of the great stands in northern New England where I grew up and first fell in love with mountains.  I particularly remember a postcard of a stand of birches with Mt. Chocurua (in New Hampshire) in the background.  It was the first mountain my brother and I climbed, leading to a life-long love of mountain trails. 
The few Ox-eye Daisies still blooming continue to provide nice photo ops as they host everything from Dew Drops to Ambush Bugs, Assassin Bugs, and Goldenrod Crab Spiders.

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