Sunday, April 14, 2013

Picnic Spot at FRC

 The hillside just east of the FRC library appeared to be carpeted only with dried leaves from last summer's California Black Oak.  It seemed like a nice spot to sit and eat my lunch and maybe spot some birds.  I could hear a Pileated Woodpecker high in a neighboring oak, but I couldn't spot it.  The sound of its hammering is so loud I cannot imagine the anatomical tricks that prevent brain damage.
Once I started to enjoy my sandwich, tiny white wildflowers came into focus.  I realized I was surrounded by Miner's Lettuce.  I took out my camera and got obsessed with finding the prefect angle.  I must have 20 shots - both the blessing and the curse of going digital.  No film cost, but one tends to take less care about each photo.  One can always delete the unsatisfactory ones, then pretend the best one was the only one you took.  But, some subjects are so challenging that I've taken dozens of shots and not found one to be satisfying.  But, then, I'm not really a photographer.  Just a naturalist who likes to take pictures to preserve the memories.
 I believe this is the miniature variety of Claytonia parviflora.  The variety I've seen at lower elevations grows much larger and the circular leaves can be 4" or more in diameter.  The local ones seldom have leaves half that size.
 A hand lens or a camera enable a closer view of the tiny flowers.  Click on these images for a closer look.  And the leaves are pretty tasty.  I added a few to my sandwich.
This white beauty with purple strips on its petals reminds me of Meadow Foam, but the habitat isn't right, and I don't have a good manual for getting real technical about identification.  Also, my memory of flower anatomy is pretty rusty. 

 This view shows more detail of the leaves.  Perhaps someone out there will recognize this and put it in the comments section. [My friend Spencer came through.  See proper ID in the comments below.]

My lunch spot turned out to be more interesting that it appeared at first.  Then, when I got home, I enjoyed the new crop of dandelions in my dirt driveway.  Someone nearby doesn't like dandelions, judging from the herbicide odor that wafted by.  But I'm comforted by knowing the dandelions will win this contest.


  1. Hey Joe,

    Looks like a Meadow Nemophila (Nemophila pedunculata). Love this series, spring is definitely arriving up there! Need to make a trip up there soon.



  2. Thanks, Spencer. I'll look into that. And get another look at the flowers. Looking forward to a visit and local hike with you.