Field Trips Log
July 2005

Friday, 15 July 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

The waving grasslands of the Santa Rosa Plateau have turned a yellowish-brown color, befitting of a warm July, and are dotted with clumps of dark reddish-brown curly dock (Rumex crispus) and tall prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) gone to seed. I drove down there today to check out a few things that I saw on Tom Chester's plant list, and began at the Hidden Valley trailhead. Popping up amongst the grasses were some fuzzy Indian milkweeds (Asclepias eriocarpa), a few graceful tarplants (Holocarpha virgata ssp. elongata) and not much else. There were masses of doveweed (Eremocarpus setigerus) along the road. I photographed some morning glories which might be Calystegia macrostegia ssp. arida, with leaves having just barely visible hairs, but since many of them seemed to have two-tipped basal lobes, they might also be ssp. tenuifolia. It is not clear at this time whether these subspecies are really distinct or not. I then headed down the North Los Santos trail a short distance to see if I could find the Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) which Tom had mentioned recently in an e-mail. Unfortunately, my chances of finding any given grass, especially one I hadn't seen before and especially in a heavily grassed area like this, were slim to none, somewhat akin to finding a particular grain of sand at the beach. So I returned to the Hidden Valley Road and proceeded southward.

At a crossing of Cole Creek, there was willow-leaved dock (Rumex salicifolius) which I had not encountered before, and a Chenopodium which Tom has tentatively identified as pit-seed chenopodium (Chenopodium berlandieri). It had leaves larger than any other Chenopodium I've seen, and when its fruits appear, it should be easy to confirm this identification. There was also pigweed amaranth (Amaranthus albus), and both western vervain (Verbena lasiostachys var. lasiostachys), spike primrose aka dense-flowered boisduvalia (Epilobium densiflorum), and scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) along the side of the road.

Beyond the southern junction of the North Los Santos trail, there was a lot more graceful tarplant and some purple clarkias (Clarkia purpurea) still blooming, and I also noticed a lot of Spanish clover (Lotus purshianus) and some of the things that seem to grow no matter what the condition are, like Mediterranean mustard (Hirschfeldia incana) and redstem filaree (Erodium cicutarium). Although the heat was really getting to me, I decided to continue on around the Trans Preserve trail and make a loop of my hike by returning to the trailhead on the Coyote Trail. At one moist swale there was a mass of white-blooming rigid hedge-nettle (Stachys ajugoides var. rigida) along with more Verbena and some thistles (Cirsium sp.). Farther along, especially in shady wooded areas, I saw a lot of leafy daisies (Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus), a couple of earth brodiaeas (Brodiaea terrestris ssp. kernensis), some creek monkeyflowers (Mimulus guttatus), a few fringed spineflowers (Chorizanthe fimbriata var. fimbriata) past their prime, and then bristly bird's beak (Cordylanthus rigidus ssp. setigerus), a beautiful patch of pink-flowered canchalagua (Centuarium venustum) and some early vinegar weed (Trichostema lanceolatum). Most of these things were pretty sparse, and it was clear that the blooming season at the Santa Rosa Plateau is about done.

There was one other thing I needed to find, and that was flax-flowered linanthus (Linanthus liniflorus), so I drove out to the Vernal Pool trailhead and walked do the junction of the South Los Santos Trail. The graceful tarplants were doing much better in this area, but aside from them, some purple clarkias and a few buckwheats, there wasn't much else in evidence. Tom had the linanthus about .20 miles down the trail, but I didn't have my gps with me so I was trying to following his landmarks and trail descriptions. At one point I saw a fairly extensive patch of threespot (Osmadenia tenella) with some other white-flowered species mixed in. It didn't look familiar to me and I decided to study it further on my way back. I kept going, but had the increasing feeling that I had gone too far, and after it was clear that I was about 1/2 mile along the trail, I turned back, carefully matching my location to each one of Tom's landmarks. As I approached where I thought I should be, it suddenly became obvious to me that my mystey plant must be what I was looking for, even though it had not looked much like a linanthus to me. But sure enough, as I compared it to the species description in the Jepson Manual, there was no doubt that this was it. There were at least 100 plants in the grassy areas along both sides of the trail. It is a very delicate, slender-stemmed annual with beautiful 5-petalled flowers, the petals of which are lined with light purple veins. After photographing it, I had a long drink of water and headed home.

Saturday, 16 July 2005 (Palomar Mountain State Park, Cleveland National Forest)

The weather has been very hot lately, but nevertheless my friend Richard Sapiro and drove down to the Palomar Mountains this morning hoping that a slightly higher elevation might bring some temporary relief. To make a long story short, it didn't. We began on the East Grade Project trail, the trailhead for which is at the mile 6.0 marker on East Grade Road. There is a small pullout there which can accomodate perhaps two vehicles. We started walking down the road which descends somewhat steeply at times, noticing some leafy daisies (Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus), California thistles (Cirsium occidentale var. californicum), narrow-leaved sunflowers (Helianthus gracilentus), and a lot of hollyleaf navarretia (Navarretia atractyloides). As was the case with the Santa Rosa Plateau, there were things still blooming but apparently little in any great numbers. We saw a few indian milkweeds (Asclepias eriocarpa), some yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and quite a lot of the diminutive Spanish clover, then several Humboldt lilies (Lilium humboldtii) appeared amidst a patch of wild roses (Rosa californica). Finally, we saw something that I had ironically enough been looking for yesterday, and which I now realized I had seen before on this trail but didn't have any pictures of, flax-flowered linanthus (Linanthus liniflorus).

As we approached the bottom of the section of road covered by Tom's guide, we found a couple of places that because they were drainages had some residual moisture and consequently had more flowers, although many of them were small ones like few-flowered heterocodon (Heterocodon rariflorum) in the bellflower family. At least two different species of Trifolium made their appearance, I think small-head field clover (T. microcephalum) and another that we didn't spend any time on but was probably either tomcat clover (T. wildenovii) or mountain clover (T. wormskioldii). Quite a lot of large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora) was evident but the flowers were done, and then Richard spotted another taxon which I recognized as Monardella nana, but I am uncertain at this point about its subspecies. We saw verbenas and some California fuchsia beginning to bloom, along with some whorl-leaf penstemon (Keckiella ternata).

When we got down to the bottom, we were in an area where Tom and Wayne Armstrong had seen superb mariposa lily (Calochortus superbus), and this was the main thing I wanted to find. Unfortunately, we were not able to locate any or any sign that they were even there, but to make up for it I was able to photograph several new (for me) species like southern bluecurls (Trichostema austromontanum ssp. austromontanum) and southern skullcap (Scutellaria bolanderi ssp. austromontana). There were also other things of lesser note such as checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora ssp. sparsifolia), purple clarkia (Clarkia purpurea), canchalagua (Centaurium venustum), and diamond-petalled clarkia (Clarkia rhomboidea), plus a meadow absolutely covered with sticky false-gilia (Allophyllum glutinosum). I also photographed a species that I had never seen before that I believe was the white-flowered bluecup (Githopsis diffusa ssp. candida), another taxon in the bell-
flower family.

Since we had not found any superb mariposa lily, we decided to go over to Palomar State Park and continue our search in Lower Doane Valley, where it has also been reported. The hoary nettles (Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea) around the trailhead were about 7' in height, and we headed down the trail, observing musk monkey-
flower (Mimulus moschatus), woolly angelica (Angelica tomentosa), thimbleberries (Rubus parviflorus) in fruit, and flowering burning bush (Euonymus occidentalis var. parishii). The trail is mainly through a wooded area, which was a welcome albeit only partial relief from the heat. I photographed cliff sword fern (Polystichum imbricans ssp. curtum), and then we passed a very intriguing phenomenon, a cut-down tree whose end clearly showed two separate sets of growth rings which meant that this tree had started out as two trees but at some point had merged into one.

The trail passed through a solid field of bracken ferns (Pteridium aquilinum var. pubescens), mustand mint (Monardella lanceolata) and broad-leaved lotus (Lotus crassifolius var. crassifolius) with its clusters of distinctive seedpods, then emerged from the woods along Doane Creek. Right away we saw several things that were new to Richard, like streambank lotus (Lotus oblongifolius var. oblongifolius), water-parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa) and roundleaf leather root (Hoita orbicularis). We crossed Doane Creek and followed a signed path toward a weir, which is a small dammed area in the creek. We saw western dogwood (Cornus sericea), western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale), spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium), and selfheal (Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata), which is considered by the Jepson Manual to be a native variant and which I recognized from having seen another variant of in Ireland, then when we got to the weir, we noticed a blooming honeysuckle with pink corollas and connate upper leaves. It was hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula var. vacillans), which I had seen only once before at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens, but never with such beautiful flowers.

After returning from the weir, we crossed an open meadow keeping a sharp eye out for the mariposa lily, but saw only more yarrow and some sticky lessingia (Lessingia glandulifera var. glandulifera). There were a couple of other things I saw on Tom's plant guide which I really had little expectation of finding since they were indicated as being offtrail, but one of them popped up almost immediately after the trail reached the edge of the woods on the north side of the meadow, and that was royal rein orchid (Piperia transversa). We saw the first one and I was really excited because I had never seen it before, then there were a couple more and then a patch of about eight all closely clustered together. A few hundred feet beyond this location and in the heavy shade of the trees on the other side of the trail, we found the other thing that Tom had listed offtrail, spotted coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata), which regrettably was done blooming but displaying its lovely dark-red fruits. Now that I know where it is, I will return again earlier in the season.

That was it for our day's excursion, but there are a number of other trails in the Palomar area and I want to investigate them all next year.