Friday, July 12, 2013

Re-visiting Tollgate and Berry Creeks

 I explored the Tollgate Creek Trail this morning and found a couple of new items - new for this season, that is.  As the surrounding forest continues to get drier, I appreciate the vegetation around running water even more.  On my way to the trail head, I walked through a pine grove and found the first Giant Sawtooth Fungus I've seen this year.  It was about 4 inches in diameter.  I hope it survives another month or so as these can get up to 6 or 7 inches in diameter and look very impressive.  The scales, looking like soft shingles, make for an attractive top surface.
 I also went a short distance up the Berry Creek Trail to check on the Goldenrod Crab Spider that's been occupying the same spot and a blooming Angelica bush for over a week.  I got lucky today as I interrupted her making a meal of a large Yellow Jacket.
 Back at Tollgate, where the creek crosses the trail about a half mile above the railroad tracks, there's a patch of a healthy-looking mint (below) that's been puzzling me for a couple of weeks.  I couldn't find it in any of my field guides.  Today, after a little internet research, I've concluded it's Sierra Mint, Pycnanthemum californicum.  For a while, I was guessing Salvia which is also a kind of mint.
 Not many of the Showy Milkweed are still blooming, but this one was still fragrant from several feet away and was still attracting a steady stream of bees, flies, and Milkweed Bugs and Beetles.
 In most areas I'm visiting, the Spiraea is also turning brown and going to seed, but close to the flowing water there are still quite a few fresh-looking ones.
 Likewise with the Grand Collomia.  Mostly wilting, but a few still look quite fresh.
 Yesterday I saw some Leopard Lilies up at Bucks Lake and they look quite fresh, but they are much smaller than the ones at the Quincy elevation.  This one was hanging over the Tollgate Creek crossing at around 3,600 feet.  I'll post several from the trails around Bucks Lake either this evening or tomorrow morning.  They're only about half as big as this one and the anthers are bright yellow rather than orange.


  1. Sierra Mint (Pycnanthemum californicum) makes a delicious tea. I've been looking for it down here in the Valley (it's supposed to grow here) but I haven't been able to find any. I'm envious of your find! Those blossoms are quite attractive. Visiting Spencer's mom in Shasta, I found a patch of Spearmint with delicate little blossoms that also made a lovely tea. Loving the posts lately. The crab spider is beautiful.

  2. So many people that do a lot of hiking often overlook the exquisite beauty found in the flora of the forests. You certainly have an eye for it my friend. Thanks for sharing the fantastic pictures!