After a slow first five months, I'm back to blogging in earnest. In the forthcoming few months I plan to keep on tracking the blooming of wildflowers, the activities of bugs and reptiles and any other critters I'm quick enough or lucky enough to photograph, and to comment on ecological relationships. Since there is an increasing sense of ecological crisis among many people and more vigorous denial of such on the part of others, I will inevitably comment on the social and political dimensions of survival as I see them.
I am still an adjunct instructor in the English Department at Feather River College, but time permitting, I am available for hire as a nature guide in the region in and around Plumas County. A brochure describing my usual kinds of natural history adventures is in development. Email me c/o firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and a statement of interests, and I'll send you a rough draft.
I have been teaching since 1965 and have recently joined the English Department as an Associate Faculty member at Feather River College. Recently taught Nature Literature in America and am currently teaching Interpersonal Communication and Basic Reading and Writing.
Yellow violets are blooming in lots of places around Quincy, but the excitement comes from a closer look. There are at least four different species within a couple miles of my home in Quincy. The most recent one to bloom, and also the least common around these parts, is the Douglas' Violet (above and below), Viola douglasii. Besides the yellow flower with its rusty smudge on the backside of the petals, it is distinguished by parsley-like leaves.
Growing in the same area as the Douglas Violet is the Goosefoot Violet, Viola pinetorum. Not surprisingly, it is called the Pine Violet in some field guides, but then so are several other species. The common names of popular wildflowers often vary greatly from region to region, or even within a region. Hopefully, I've got the scientific names correct, although I do tend to get corrected by botanists around this time of year.
The first yellow species that I saw blooming around Quincy made its appearance several weeks ago on the Feather River College Nature Trail. That would be Shelton's Violet, Viola shletonii (below). It is still blooming beneath the tall pines and oaks along the trail, mostly coming up through oak leaf litter.
The last to bloom around here, with a much more restricted habitat, is the Stream Violet, Viola glabra. The large, heart-shaped leaves are easily mistaken for those of the Lemmon's Wild Ginger, and the two are often found growing together. The photo below was taken next to Boyle Creek just above town in Boyle Ravine. That's the only place I've seen this species around Quincy, but I'm sure it's found in similar habitat by many of the streams that flow into the valley.
In another few weeks we'll actually have violet violets blooming. By the side of the road out to Oakland Camp, very close to the site of the Mountain Lady Slippers, we'll be seeing the Western Dog Violet, Viola adunca. Then, around the same time or a little later, Macloskey's Violet, a white one, will be blooming out at Butterfly Valley Botanical Area. A good time to tiptoe through the violets.