Field Trips Log
February 2005

Saturday, 5 February 2005 (South Hills Park, Glendora)

Today's excursion was just a quick one to a location only about ten miles from my house, and was inspired by my friend Jane Strong who told me of finding Bowlesia incana there in bloom recently. I had wanted to see bowlesia ever since I got my first copy of Milt McAuley's Wildflowers of the Santa Monica Mountains. Tom Chester had also reported it from the Santa Rosa Plateau, but South Hills Park in Glendora was a lot closer, and besides, I had never been there before.

The park is at the end of East Mauna Loa St. east of Glendora Ave. not far north of the 210 freeway, and there is a sign and a small gravelled parking area. The trailhead is adjacent to a pair of trails that fork left and right behind a children's play structure. According to Jane's instructions, I was to go left. The trail switchbacks up a fairly steep densely-vegetated slope through coast live oaks, hollyleaf redberry, toyon and elderberry. Golden current was blooming profusely as was wild cucumber. I had to be careful not to brush against the prolific poison oak that lined the trail in places. I noted sagebrush, horehound, bedstraw and masses and masses of blooming chickweed. Some sticky monkeyflower came into view, and then suddenly it seemed that I was in a littleleaf redberry thicket with the shrubs absolutely covered with tiny blooms. A large green shrub appeared on the left and I thought at first that it was sugarbush, but then I noticed that it was in bloom, and surprisingly was lemonadeberry, something that is not commonly seen this far away from the coast. When I saw the large round leaves of southern miner's lettuce and pacific sanicle just starting to bloom, I knew I was where I should start looking for the bowlesia. It's very difficult to find something when you don't know where it is and you don't have a mental image of it, and after fifteen minutes of fruitless searching I was growing frustrated.

I decided to continue up the trail to see if there was another place that matched Jane's directions. I saw a lovely purple nightshade, some fiesta flower with one or two blooms, some johnny jump-ups and blue dicks. The trail ascended through a patch of tall black mustards interspersed with a few white nightshades, California poppies and collar lupines, and came out on the flat, grassy South Hills Motorway, where I saw redmaids, strigose lotuses, fiddlenecks and morning glories. I continued on the signed East View trail, enjoying eucrypta, wild canterbury bells and black sage, but soon turned around and headed back. I knew I had gone well beyond where the bowlesia was supposed to be, and I had just about decided that I would have to get Jane to find them for me when, Ah ha!, I noticed the small leaves of a plant that I didn't immediately recognize nestled amongst chickweed and common bedstraw in the shade of some coast live oaks. I had seen a few illustrations, and these leaves were palmately lobed and about the right size, but it was not until I got out my hand lens and studied the miniscule whitish specks in the leaf axils that I knew that this was indeed the bowlesia. Not every plant had a visible flower on it, but enough did that I was able to take some photographs. See pictures here. Unquestionably, few people would notice this diminutive and non-distinctive plant unless they were looking for it, and even fewer would perceive the tiny blooms. I wished that I had my digital microscope to take better pictures than I could manage with the digital camera, but that's something that will have to wait for another day.

One final note is that there are nettles along parts of this trail so be careful where you put your hands.

NOTE: The next few reports are going to be of necessity fairly brief, not only because most of these trips either were fairly brief themselves or didn't amount to much botanically, but also because I have gotten behind in writing up the reports and don't have time to do more with them. In some cases they may just be a quick mention of where I went and a few notable species that were seen.

January and a good part of February were basically washed out by the tremendous rains we have had in Southern California (49" at my house since early December!), rains which we have prayed for but which have unfortunately played havoc with roads and trails, many of which have been damaged and/or closed. The Santa Rosa Plateau was closed for much of this time. The Chantry Flats Road was severely damaged and is likely to remain closed for a significant time period. I did make a quick trip between storms to Anza-Borrego Palm Canyon toward the end of February, but it was a cold, windy, rain-threatening kind of day, and I only spent a short time there. I did ascertain that the Newberry's velvet mallow which I wanted to get in bloom still had its flowers closed, but that was probably because of the heavy ovrercast. I also made a quick trip out to the Living Desert, where there was surprisingly little in the way of annuals making an appearance.

I took advantage of this down time to create a page on Trees of Southern California which displays photos of the bark of all the coniferous, deciduous and evergreen broadleaf trees which are common here, using photographs I already had and supplementing them with ones taken at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

Wednesday, 23 February 2005 (Colby Trail)

I took advantage of a break in the weather to hike up the Colby Trail in Glendora. The parking area cul-de-sac is at the northern end of Loraine, but parking may be prohibited on the cul-de-sac. Since I'm doing this report in the beginning of June, I can't exactly remember what I was looking for on this trail. I do know that I didn't find anything of particular interest. The trail ends at the Glendora Mountain Road.

Friday, 25 February 2005 (Sunset Ridge)

Species photographed: bitter gooseberry (Ribes amarum), Tejon cryptantha (Cryptantha microstachys) and threadstem (Pterostegia drymarioides). Only went as far as the junction of the Sunset Ridge Trail and the Millard Canyon Trail.