Saturday, May 24, 2008

Arcata Community Forest

The Hike
I used to go several times a week on this same trail when I was attending Humboldt State University. I've been living nearby off and on for the last couple of years, but when I am staying in the area I go at least once a week. It's not the most impressive redwood forest, since it's a second-growth managed forest, but there are wonderful corners here and there where you can feel lost.

( I have been lost several times in this forest..this is how I originally found the trail.)

Katie is home for the summer and so is our mom's poodle, Annie.

The Color
May is a good time for a hike. I've been impatient, but the Clintonia andrewsiana are finally beginning to bloom. When the flowers dissappear, they'll be replaced by spectacular blue egg-shaped berries. I have Clintonia seedlings growing in a flat at Bayside, but it will be several years before they look like this.

The diversity of flower color in douglas iris is intriguing. My favorites are the pale blue ones, but they also come in deep red-purple, and intermediate shades.

Mimulus dentatus is one of those plants I discovered, propagated, and identified. There's now a nice patch growing in thre creek near the Bayside House. It's similar to M. guttatus the common yellow monkeyflower, but is more graceful and delicate. The leaves are thinner and softer with serrated edges, and the flowers are more trumpet shaped. It also blooms much earlier.

Rubus parviflorus is spineless with big soft maple-like leaves, large flowers, and edible berries. The Northcoast Journal published a nice article about this plant. (I think the berries are like a mild rasperry.)
The Greenery
Streptopus amplexifolius var. americanus, the twisted stalk. It's form is very architectural.

And underneath, where the flowers hange, the plant is glaucus blue.

Blechnum splicant, the common deer fern, is uncommonly cool.

The spore producing leaves are more skeletal, and they'll turn dark and dry when they go into production
while the vegetative leaves begin as lime zigzags and darken into a more subtle green.

Fully back from it's winter rest, is the five-fingered fern, Adiantum pedatum.

The black wiry stems and leaf ribs were, and perhaps are, the main source of black basketry material for the native peoples of the area.

The fresh growth of conifers stand out in the darkness. Here are the new needles of the coastal redwood, Sequoia sempervirens.

The immature berry of Rubus spectabilis, the salmon berry.

Flowers of the piggyback plant, Tolmiea menzesii, common houseplant elsewhere, a native forest dweller locally.

It's cousin, Mitre's wort, Mitella caulescens, which I simply can't stop looking at.

The bright suspended stars of Trientalis borealis.
Petasites frigidis next to sword fern, Polystichum munitum, and redwood sorrel, Oxalis oreganum.

Polystichum munitum.

Time to emerge from the shadows.

Same time next week okay?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Coastal Prairie and More

Coastal Prairie

If only the whole prairie looked this full. Sure we have some nice Lupinus polyphyllus, and CA poppies (solid orange, as well as the yellower coastal variety, below)

and some Iris douglasiana, Juncus balticus, J. patens, Deschampsia caespitosa,

yarrow, Aremeria maritma (below), and more,

but most of it's bare. The camera lies, or at least exaggerates. What gives me hope are the smaller plants coming in. The Mimulus aurantiacus should be much larger this summer, and there are more Clarkias and grasses appearing. One day it will be a dense green mound smattered with wildflowers.

Sometimes I take little pieces of plants from my hikes with me (too tiny to weigh on my conscience, and never a whole plant) and stick them in pots. Wait a winter and most of them usually take root and grow. There are actually a few different species in this little ceramic, but what you see is some unknown (to me) species of claytonia blooming. It's a wispy thing, but I like it. I hope it produces seed.

Other Cool Plants in Bloom
On the shady side of the house, the Vancouveria hexandra are blooming in front of some doug irises. I'm fond of its leaves, which look to me like pale green puzzle pieces.

We also have our prized specimen of Rhododendron occidentalis, our native azalea. (Which, by the way grows at the edge of the Big Lagoon Bog, but they weren't blooming yet.)

And lastly, these pictures are from a few weeks ago, but this mystery Carex on the property deserves to be in a post.
Can you think of another plant with pure black and white flowers?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bog of Big Lagoon

I've mentioned this bog before, so let's finally have a tour. This is the bog of Big Lagoon. It's a mucky inaccessible place, especially after the winter floods, but that's how it has been so well preserved.

I walk very carefully when I visit, not because of the muck (which is unavoidable), but because I don't want to step on too many plants. After all, there are a few endangered species in the mix. Luckily once I got in there I found a good elk trail and stuck to it.

This place is diverse. Big time. I found this great checklist online that's helping me identify things. Click on the checklist link for a full species survey of the area.

This is the Macloskey's violet, Viola macloskeyi

And nestled underneath those lovelies are Drosera rotundifolia (!). Tiny.

Much more subtle are these little spike rushes, Eleocharis pachycarpa.

The elk trail lead me back into the old spruce forest. There I saw an A-frame fort, coming along nicely.

And, the most "exotic" of native wildflowers, the elusive Calypso orchid, Calypso bulbosa. I do have a secret patch of these, but this one was all alone and nowhere near the patch.

It's named after Calypso, the beautiful blind enchantress from the Odyssey. She was secretive, and so is this little dragon of a flower; their blooms are unpredictable. While this lone plant in the dark forest had a bloom, my secret patch had none.

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