Photographs by Michael Charters

On a day when I originally set out to join Mickey Long for a desert outing at Vasquez Rocks and was disappointed to find when I got there essentially nothing apparently in bloom, I decided on the way home to stop at Placerita Canyon. I had never done a photo gallery before for this Natural Area, so this seemed like a good alternative for the day. 2014 obviously is not a particularly floristic year, but nevertheless the Placerita Canyon area was quite lush and green with a good many species in bloom, although many were not present in great numbers. Placerita Canyon is in a transition zone between the San Gabriel Mountains and the Mojave Desert. This east-west trending canyon contains a number of trails including the main Canyon Trail which extends two miles from the Nature Center to the picnic area at Walker Ranch, and a couple of trails that lead up the ridges to the south of the main canyon. The Canyon Trail is mostly level, much of it shaded, and it follows seasonal Placerita Creek along its oak, willow and sycamore-lined course. The property was the site of the first documented discovery of gold in California and was sold by the Walker family to the State in 1950. Placerita Canyon is conveniently located on Placerita Canyon Road just off of the 14 Freeway. There is a lot of non-native flora in the canyon because this is an area that has experienced a great deal of human activity. The pictures in this gallery were taken on 4/12/14. Incidentally, the name Placerita is probably derived from some form of the term placer, as in placer mining, which did take place there. An asterisk is for a non-native species.

Common eucrypta
Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. chrysanthemifolia

Baby blue eyes
Nemophila menziesii var. menziesii

[Named for Scottish botanist Archibald Menzies, 1754-1842]

Annual bedstraw, Goose grass, Sticky willy, Cleavers *
Galium aparine

[aparine = Greek name for the plant they called Cleavers]
Black sage
Salvia mellifera

[mellifera = honey-bearing]

Blue dicks, Wild hyacinth
Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum

Bolander's woodland star
Lithophragma bolanderi

[Named for Henry Nicholas Bolander, 1831-1897]
Sow thistle *
Sonchus oleraceus

[oleraceus = Latin for potherb, or 'pertaining to kitchen gardens']

California blackberry
Rubus ursinus
  California brickellbush
Brickellia californica

California wild buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum

Canyon live oak
Quercus chrysolepis

[chrysolepis = golden-scaled]
Coast live oak
Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia
[According to William Stearn's Dictionary of Plant Names, agrifolia means "with rough or scabby leaves." Possible root words are the Latin agri, "a field," and the Greek agri or agro, "fierce or wild," from which the Latin meaning may have descended. Since folium and folius are Latin, and Greek and Latin were generally not mixed to form words, the Latin root would probably be the most likely. I have no idea how Stearn came up with the meaning which he gives, since no root appears to support that meaning. There seems to be a general feeling (and it has often been so stated) that there was an error either by the describing botanist or by a printer, and that the name should have been aquifolia, or "holly-leaved" since oak leaves sometimes do resemble those of the holly. Since the author of the taxon, Luis Née, has been dead for over 200 years, it is difficult to say what was in his mind when he named it. There is however evidence of a link between the names agrifolia and aquifolia. In the 1700's Agrifolium and Aquifolium were apparently used interchangeably for a holly plant, possibly what eventually received the name Ilex aquifolia. The only other taxon I know of which uses the specific epithet agrifolia is the Australian member of the Myrtaceae Grevillea agrifolia, which also does have very holly-like leaves.]

Bur-chervil *
Anthriscus caucalis
[Chervil is Anthriscus cerefolium. Two other very similar plants are Chaerophyllum bulbosum, called turnip-rooted chervil, and Chaerophyllum procumbens, called spreading chervil]


Copyright © 2014 by Michael L. Charters.
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Comments and/or questions may be addressed to: mmlcharters[at]