Saturday, May 24, 2014

Highlights of the day

 I'll save the naming of things until later.  For now, enjoy the amazing beauty of some of our local wildflowers.  Another hike around Oakland Camp revealed that despite the extremely dry conditions, some species of wildflowers are doing OK, if a bit earlier than their usual first blooming times.

5/25 - the morning after:  The above photo is of the Mountain Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium montanum.  It's in the orchid family, so it's an Orchid.  A certain amount of excitement was generated around Quincy when several summers ago I posted photos of this flower blooming around June 20.  It's bloomed earlier every year since.  This is worrisome.  Probably drought related.  There are several people in town who make frequent trips to certain spots in the forest where these bloom.  I can count on a certain neighbor, who often explores by bicycle, to flag me down to announce "Joe, they're blooming."  I always know who "they" are. 
     The Orchid family is in a larger Order, the Asparagales.  Along with the Lily family, Liliaceae, which are in the Order Liliales, I think of them as Lilioids - lily-like flowers.  I have a draft of an article somewhere in my files titled "Those Elusive Lilioids."  Elusive in the sense that the taxonomy of these groups seems always to be in flux.  There are many lilies or lily-like flowers once known by the Genus Brodiaea, that are now placed in several different genera, such as the flower below.
 This beautiful lily, as far as I know still in the lily family, was once a Brodiaea, but is now Dichelostemma multiflorum, or Wild Hyacinth.  Watch out for that common name - it is currently used for quite a variety of different species, most of which are also known by several other "common" names.  It's fun if you like words and word origins and are not too concerned about always being correct.  There are quite a few of these blooming in the dry, open flats north of Oakland Camp on the way to Gilson Creek.  The flower clusters are perched atop thin stems averaging around 2' tall.  The basal leaves, as thin as grass, are seldom noticed and are often lying flat along the ground and obscured by other low-lying vegetation.  These are often confused with another lilioid known as Blue Dicks.  More on that plant later, when they start blooming.

This last flower is Farewell-to-Spring, or  Clarkia dudleyana.  It's in the Onagraceae, or Evening Primrose family.  The other two showy members of this family that I've often posted here are not blooming yet.  Those would be Hooker's Evening Primrose and the Birdcage Evening Primrose.
More observations from today's walk will be posted soon.

I did bring my camera this time, obviously, and I saw a California Mountain King Snake again!  But it went into hiding too quickly for a photo.  I plan to go back tomorrow, and maybe be a bit quicker.
Very exciting for me to see these twice within a week after having never before seen one alive in my many years of roaming the Sierra Nevada.  I hope to have some more photos of this snake to share before long.

No comments:

Post a Comment