California Bulbs in Central California 2

Mary Sue Ittner
Wed, 18 May 2005 21:23:44 PDT
Dear All,

This is my second installment telling about our search to see wildflowers 
in California in April. One day we visited Pinnacles National Monument. 
This monument which was set aside because of its geological features can be 
described as having chaparral that covers mountains that are the remnants 
of an ancient volcano. There are canyons and caves and 30 miles of trails. 
There are a lot of bulbs on the plant list for this area, but we didn't 
find very many of them in bloom. A Fritillaria already had set seed. We 
only spent part of a day there and since we were looking at all the flowers 
we saw along the trail when we got to the part where we had to climb up and 
around the caves (since we had not brought flashlights and didn't want to 
crawl through the caves in darkness), we turned around. There was supposed 
to be a good stand of flowers on the other side of the caves, but it was 
already late in the day and we had a couple of miles of walking to get back 
to our car and were already happy with the flowers we had seen. So we don't 
know what others we might have found.

As we drove in late morning I was excited to spot some very pretty 
Calochortus venustus blooming alongside of the road on the bank. There were 
a few close to the road which was good since there wasn't really a good 
place to park so it was possible to take a quick picture. There were some 
higher up out of reach. We didn't see any others even though we spent all 
afternoon there.…

We walked along the Bench Trail. The trail is sunny along the creek, but 
soon becomes shady. In the first part of the walk there were monkey flowers 
(Mimulus aurantiacus) in the prettiest soft peach color, poppies, owl's 
clover, many annuals, and some white Alliums. I think these are Allium 
lacunosum, but have to admit working backwards from the Alliums that are on 
the plant list and eliminating the ones I was sure it wasn't. The trail 
then got more shady so we saw different things including one of 
California's native Clematis (ligusticifolia) with lovely climbing white 
flowers and a lot of the blue fiesta flower, Pholistoma auritum, which we 
saw a lot on our trip.  Another Allium we saw in bud was Allium crispum. 
This is such a pretty species. It was found on a shady bank while the other 
Allium was in a much sunnier location. In the days to come we saw more of 
Allium crispum in bloom in Monterey County and at Figueroa Mountain in 
Santa Barbara County. I have put a couple of pictures of it from our trip, 
including one growing on a bank with a lighter shade of Chinese Houses, 
Collinsia heterophylla. Given that we often saw this annual blooming with 
bulbs, perhaps it is a likely annual companion plant.…

We saw Delphinium parryi in quantity in the first part of the walk as we 
did the next few days. Delphiniums I find difficult to photograph as they 
are so tall and often can't be picked out of the background, but I added 
some attempts at this species over a couple of days and several counties. 
We decided that California Delphiniums don't get enough attention in this 
state. People think of California Poppies and Lupine when they think of 
California, but we found Delphiniums every day, along banks, under trees, 
in grassy areas. Unfortunately the Jepson Manual key is not very easy. It 
starts out with plants with all of the following and lists 5 
characteristics and your next choice is plants with one exception to the 
five. Arrghhhh. But we think the pictures I added were all D. parryi 
although it varied in color.…

The most exciting and in some ways frustrating find of the day was 
Triteleia lugens. I am wanting either to grow or see as many of 
California's Brodiaea complex plants as I can and I hadn't seen this 
species before. We knew it was found in Pinnacles and that it was in bloom, 
but the Park Rangers were very vague about where it might be seen. I spent 
a lot of time trying to photograph the first pathetic specimen we found 
fearing we wouldn't see another. But the more we walked, the more we saw. 
It got to be kind of a joke as it was blooming in so many places. To most 
of you all the yellow Tritelias must look alike, but unlike Triteleia 
ixioides, this one does not have appendages although it does have a very 
unusual shaped filament. The memory card on my digital camera had one of 
those freak meltdowns so I thought I had lost all of my pictures of this 
species after so many attempts to get it in focus. I finally figured out a 
way to recover fragments of the pictures which is why the close-up is only 
the top part of the flower. If you look closely you will see a familiar 
annual in one of these pictures.…

Finally every single day of our trip we saw Dichelostemma capitatum. We saw 
some extremely short ones growing in serpentine, some very tall ones, pale 
ones, dark ones, ones in low elevations, ones in high elevations. I added 
pictures to the wiki of a plant photographed at Pinnacles, one along the 
road with shrubs in San Luis Obispo County, and one at higher elevations in 
the area near Lake Isabella in Kern County.…

All for now.

Mary Sue

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