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2022 June 15

False dandelions

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:34
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In Lawn flowers (weeds), I tentatively identified the dandelion-like flower in my lawn as a hawkbit.  I found a document BEGINNER’S CORNER: When is a Dandelion not a Dandelion? that tries to separate the different dandelion-like flowers.  I took some more close-up pictures, so that I could try to apply the criteria.

false-dandelion-bud

This is the bud of the flower—the bud was not used in the article for classification, but I liked the way it looked.

false-dandelion-flower

Here is the flower from a low angle, showing the bracts.

false-dandelion-leaf

Here is the leaf, showing the spines.

false-dandelion-leaf2

Another view of the leaves.

false-dandelion-flower-dissected

The flower dissected to show the interior.

The document starts by looking at the stem and leaves to identify true dandelions. Because these stems do not ooze latex when snapped and are hairy rather than bare, I do not have a true dandelion. The hairs on the leaves are only 2–3mm, not 10mm, so this is not Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Pilosella officinarum). The flowers are on single stems and the bracts are simple cups, with no outer set forming a “saucer”, so this is not Hawk’s-beard.

The next step suggests looking for forked hairs on the leaves, to identify hawkbits.  I was not able to see any forking, so maybe this is not a hawksbit after all!

Next they dissect the flower, looking for “papery scales between the florets” to identify cat’s-ear. I did not see any, nor were there any “cat’s ear” scales on the stalk. So probably not a cat’s-ear.

According to the article “Then it’s probably Autumn Hawkbit (this was previously Leontodon autumnalis, but has been moved to a new genus to become Scorzoneroides autumnalis). It’s generally less hairy with a few unforked hairs on the underside of the leaves, and a tapering from stem to flower base. The outer florets are reddish underneath.”

The leaves seem pretty hairy to me and the florets are not reddish underneath (though that doesn’t seem to be essential, as many photos of Scorzoneroides autumnalis on the web don’t have the reddish coloring).  I’m more worried that the buds on the photos on the web all seem to be upright, rather than drooping like the ones I have.  So I am very hesitant to call this an autumn hawkbit.

I read some more hawkbit descriptions, and found “If you have a hand-lens or very good eye-sight, most hairs on hawkbit leaves have split ends, unlike in catsear.” [https://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/learning/colleges/college-of-sciences/clinics-and-services/weeds-database/hawkbit.cfm] So I got out my eye loupes and went and looked again at the leaves.  Sure enough, with the 7.5× and 10× loupes, I could just make out very short forked ends to the hairs on the leaves.  Also the leaves have the narrow shape for hawkbits shown in the comparative photograph at the Massey site.

So I’m now convinced that I do indeed have hawkbits, but whether they are rough hawkbits or lesser hawkbits, I don’t know.  I don’t generally let the hawkbits go to seed (despite the picture in Lawn flowers (weeds)), so I can’t easily check whether the outer ring of fruit has the usual white threads (rough) or not (lesser).

I went out to look for seeds, but all I found were real dandelions and cat’s-ears:

true-dandelion

Here is a true dandelion in the lawn (next to the borage).

catsear-flower

Here is a cat’s-ear flower.

catsear-branching-stem

The cat’s-ear has long (about 2′) branching stems.

catsear-on-stem

Here is the eponymous cat’s ear on the stem of a cat’s-ear.

So the bottom line is that I can’t just say “Oh, the yellow flowers in the lawn are hawkbits”—I have hawkbits, cat’s-ears, and true dandelions. I have to look a little closer at each one to tell which is which. (Tomorrow I mow the lawn, and I won’t be able to tell them apart until they flower again.)

2022 June 1

Lawn flowers (weeds)

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 22:00
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Because I did not have any photos for this week’s “secret walk”, I decided to photograph the flowers in my lawn before mowing.

First, I’m going to cheat a little and include two photos from 7 April 2022, when the wild onions were still flowering:

borage-and-wild-onion

At that time the wild onion and the borage were both growing together at a corner of the patio. I took out most of the borage when the stalks started falling over, but more is starting there now.

California-poppy

I even had one lone California poppy, back near the compost bin. Other people still have California poppies blooming, but our lone volunteer was over early.

The rest of the photos in this post are from 29 May 2022:

hawkbit

The flower that I’ve been thinking of as dandelion, though it does not have the hollow stems of the dandelions I grew up with in the midwest, seems to be a hawkbit.

hawkbit2

Here is another hawkbit, showing leaves, flower, and seeds.

common-daisy

I also have a few common daisies, mostly in the front yard.

bitter-lettuce

This weed, which grows rather tall, seems to be bitter lettuce, which (despite its name) is not really edible, though it supposedly has some traditional medicinal uses.

California-burclover

California burclover is one of the few native weeds that competes with the Eurasian ones.

scarlet-pimpernel

The tiny scarlet pimpernel flowers are cute.

borage

This is a very small borage plant that flowered in the lawn—mostly I get huge borage plants, because I let them grow pretty much wherever they occur.

lemon-balm

One patch of lawn has been replaced by lemon balm. One year I let the lemon balm grow into a bush, but mowing around it was too much hassle, so now I just mow it like the rest of the lawn—it seems to survive the mistreatment (and the numerous gopher tunnels underneath it).

salsify

I have quite a bit of salsify growing under the clothesline.

bitter-lettuce-fennel-mint

Also under the clothesline are bitter lettuce, fennel, and mint. The mint is an escapee from a nearby raised bed (which no longer has any mint), but I’m not sure whether it was the peppermint or the spearmint that escaped.

nasturtium

The nasturtiums are also escaping from the raised bed, which is gradually disintegrating after over 30 years. The nasturtiums may be responsible for the mint no longer being in the raised bed.

thistle

I still have thistles in the lawn. A few years back, when I was too lazy to do anything about the backyard jungle, some thistles grew to almost 6 feet high. I tried to take out most of the thistles earlier this year, but there are still quite a few. I won’t let them flower this year, at least making sure they get mown, and I’ll do my best to dig them up. (No herbicides!)

oxalis

Although the oxalis is long past blooming, I found a few plants still under the pear tree, where it is too shady for most of the grasses and flowers that make up my lawn.

cranesbill

I also have cranesbill.

Italian-arum

I found out recently that all parts of the Italian arum are poisonous, and that it can even be a contact irritant, so I’ll try to remove most of the arum this year, despite how pretty it is, especially when it turns red. I also understand that it is almost impossible to eradicate, so I’ll probably always have some in the yard.

common-nightshade

Common nightshade is one of the more common plants back by the compost heap.

borage-bee

I had to include this extra borage picture, because of the bee—one of the best reasons for allowing borage to grow is that the bees love it. They seem to like it even more than they like blackberry flowers.

With all the flowers in the lawn and at least four different species of grass (not to mention other plants that did not have flowers for me to photograph), no one could accuse my lawn of being a monoculture! I do mow it to keep it from becoming too tall, but I don’t water it, nor add any chemicals.

2022 May 30

Secret Walks: Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop yet again

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:54
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I posted before about doing the Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop on March 25 and on April 10.  On Sunday 22 May I went again, this time with my wife and my sister, neither of whom had done the loop before.  We drove to the park, but parked on Highway 1, rather than driving in to the parking lot.

western-tiger-swallowtail

I usually have difficulty photographing butterflies, but this western tiger swallowtail posed nicely for me on the wild radish. I got a few photos, but this one shows the markings best.

wild-radish

The wild radishes themselves have nice blooms at this time of year—I like the purplish ones best.

wood-rose

The wood rose had just a single bloom—I don’t know whether it has more in a different season.

bee

This is one of my better bee photo, on some sort of mustard flower.

bee-on-seaside-wooly-sunflower

Here is a bee on seaside wooly sunflower (it was a good day for bee photos).

yellow-bush-lupine

The yellow bush lupine was blooming but also showing seed pods.

western-gull-on-ridge

I zoomed way in to get this western gull on the ridge across the beach, but the quality was not all I hoped for.

harbor-seals

The harbor seal pups have gotten quite big—the one coming out of the water here is about half the size of the adults now. A lot of the seals were out on the rocks rather than on the sandy beach.

black-guillemot

I could not identify these black guillemots until I got the photos home and could look at them on a bigger screen—again the quality at full zoom leaves a little to be desired.

fern-grotto

I took my sister down to fern grotto beach, but my wife did not want to make the steep descent. That was probably just as well, as I slipped and fell, and I’m usually surer-footed than my wife.

sister-in-grotto

Here is proof (if any of her friends need it), that my sister was indeed at Fern Grotto Beach.

holes-in-cliff

Every time I go to Fern Grotto Beach, I’m fascinated by these holes in the cliffs. The all line up horizontally, but there is not a visible difference between the rock layer with the holes and that layers immediately above and below.

north-across-fern-grotto-beach

The view across Fern Grotto Beach looking north is a classic northern California coastline landscape. The finger of rock jutting out in the middle is where a lot of the harbor seal colony was sleeping.

seaside-daisy

The seaside daisies were putting on a fine display.

pelicans-on-beach

We saw a lot of pelicans on the beach at Wilder Creek. I’ve never seen pelicans on the ground before.

100s-of-pelicans

I’ve also never seen so many pelicans at once (this was not even all of them, as there were another 50–100 in the creek). Usually a dozen pelicans flying in line is the biggest cluster I see.

California-buckeye

The California buckeyes were also blooming vigorously. Pretty soon the flowers will be over and the buckeyes will drop their leaves for the summer. I don’t know of any other deciduous tree that has leaves in winter and drops them for the summer.

2022 May 29

Secret Walks: Henry Cowell Redwoods

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:37
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On Saturday 21 May, my wife and I went with my sister, who was visiting, to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.  We walked from Parking Lot 1 (by the picnic area) through the magnificent grove of redwoods that are on the loop trail near the visitor center, down to Cathedral Grove, then up to the observation deck at the highest point in the park, and finally back down Ridge Fire Road to the finish the loop trail. It has been something like 3 decades since my wife and I had been up to observation deck, as most visitors we’ve been to the park with have not been up for anything more strenuous than the flat loop trail.

I will not include the somewhat boring and cliched pictures of redwood trees in this post, but will try to highlight some of the other things we saw.  For some of the flowers I’m rather uncertain of the identification—I’d appreciate more info.  (I have other photos and higher-resolution images of several of them, if these cropped and downsampled images are insufficient.)

violet-leaf-and-bud

This is some sort of violet—I can’t tell which without the flower. It is growing right next to a lot of redwood sorrel.

periwinkle

This seems to be a periwinkle.

thimbleberry-flower

The thimbleberry photo came out better than I expected.

arching-branches

My sister liked the composition of these arching branches, but the zoom on her camera was being balky, so I took the photo for her.

trees-across-Eagle-Creek

These downed tree across Eagle Creek do a good job of hiding the creek. We had originally planned to cross the creek, but my wife did not like the steepness of the trails, so we walked along the north side of the creek until the path rejoined Pipeline Road.

veronica

I’m not sure what this fuzzy-leafed plant is. Google Lens thought it was veronica, but I don’t trust Google Lens that much.

whipplea_modesta

Google Lens though that this plant was Whipplea modesta, but I think it is the same species as the previous photo (though not the same plant).

redwood-violet

Here is a redwood violet.

fernalds-iris

This is either a Fernald’s iris or a Douglas iris. I’m not sure how to tell them apart, as both seem to be able to have the same lavender-and-yellow coloration. My wife leans more to it being a Fernald’s iris.

trillium

I had not seen a trillium for a long time, but the leaf shapes are rather distinctive.

western-fence-lizard

This lizard has the markings of a western fence lizard, but was bigger than I’m used to seeing fence lizards.

catkins

I’ve no idea what sort of plant this is—I think that these are catkins on it. I have a few other pictures of the leaves and branches, but Google Lens was of no help in identifying any of them.

California-Yerba-Santa

I’m not sure why the California yerba santa had blackened leaves. Is this usual for it? Had there been a controlled burn of the chaparral that deposited soot? There was some other evidence of burn scars below the observation deck.

California-Yerba-Santa-2

Another California yerba santa, without the blackened leaves this time.

chaparral-peas

This legume seems to be chaparral peas.

golden-chinquapin

These fuzzy balls seem to be golden chinquapin.

rockrose

This seems to be a rockrose.

white-flower

I was unable to identify this white flower at all.

zoom-from-deck

I took many views from the observation deck, but they lacked much impact in a small format. This zoomed image of the scars left by Granite Construction was the best image in small format. The Google Maps satellite image (37.034602547404475, -122.0976728917913) shows a much larger scar (from sand mining, I believe) on the other side of the ridge.

lyre-shape

I liked the lyre or trident shape of this tree.

granary-tree

We saw some acorn woodpeckers, but they moved too quickly for us to get photos. There were a few granary trees around the observation deck, and I took this zoom shot of some of the holes, many of which seem to have acorns in them.

chorizanthe

This ground cover seems to be chorizanthe.

cobweb-ladder

Here is one redwood—not for the tree but for the ladders of cobwebs on the bark.

We walked a total of about 4.6 miles in Henry Cowell Redwoods—a little shorter than many of our walks, but somewhat hillier.

2022 May 2

Secret Walks: Museum of Natural History

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 11:33
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On Sunday, 1 May 2022, my wife and I walked to the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, to see the annual display of scientific illustration.

Museum-of-Natural-History-map

(Click for higher-resolution map) We went down Bay, through Neary Lagoon on the floating boardwalk, along Beach Street, and across the pedestrian bridge. We returned across the Riverside bridge, so that we could go downtown for lunch. The whole walk was about 5.7 miles.

pie-billed-grebe-1

At full zoom, my camera takes rather poor pictures (I haven’t found a way to restrict it to doing only optical, and not digital zoom). But I needed full zoom to identify this bird in Neary Lagoon as a pie-billed grebe.

mallard-on-hand-rail

We’ve never seen a mallard duck standing on a railing before—they usually prefer flat surfaces.

coot-in-sun

We only saw one coot in the lagoon—usually coots seem to hang out in fairly large groups.

pie-billed-grebe-2

Another pie-billed grebe. This one made a very loud call—you can hear a similar call at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pied-billed_Grebe

pie-billed-grebe-3

Yet another pie-billed grebe.

yellow-iris

The yellow irises near Neary Lagoon are still blooming, but not as exuberantly as a week or two ago.

buttercups

The buttercups are attracting pollinators. I did not get a close enough photo to decide whether these are bees or hoverflies, but I lean toward hoverflies.

purple-salsify

Purple salsify grows as a weed here. Supposedly the stalks and roots are edible if cooked. We have a little in our back lawn.

red-valerian

Red valerian also grows as weed.

Monarch

Santa Cruz now has a year-round population of monarch butterflies, but no longer seems to get many migrating ones.

carousel-mural

I think that this mural on the carousel building at the Boardwalk is a fairly new one—at least, I don’t remember seeing it before.

liars-beware

On Hiawatha, someone has gotten a bit carried away with decorating their garage with wooden letters. The signs seem to say “liars beware” and “idiocracy wag the dog”.

bee-in-bottlebrush

Photographing bees feeding on bottlebrush bushes is difficult—the bees dive into the flower deep enough that little of them is visible. This was as much of a bee as I ever managed to get.

I did not take any pictures at the museum—it would not be right to take photos of the art work on display. The museum still displays a collection of taxidermy (mostly local animals), a live snake, a working beehive with glass sides, a small touch pool, and some American Indian artifacts (including some nice baskets). The museum is a good one for young kids with an interest in nature, and the illustration exhibit was quite good.

California-buckeye

California buckeye flowers are now blooming. This bloom was on a small plant on the river levee.

Scabiosa-atropurpurea

Another naturalized plant is Scabiosa atropurpurea, though it is a pretty enough flower that no one seems to mind.

Lotus-subbiflorus

This ground cover on the levee is one we were not familiar with—it appears to be Lotus subbiflorus.

gull-gliding

I tried to take pictures of gulls landing or taking off—without much success, as they were so far away that I needed a lot of zoom, and then I could not track them easily.

Bonarpartes-gull

This small gull seems to be a Bonaparte’s gull.

Western-and-Bonapartes-gull

Here are a western gull and a Bonaparte’s gull side by side, for a comparison of sizes.

orange-sticky-monkeyflower

The levee has some sticky monkey-flower planted—probably as part of the effort to restore native plants to the levee.

yellow-sticky-monkeyfower

There is also a yellow sticky monkey-flower.

common-goldeneye-1

I believe that these ducks are common goldeneyes, though it is hard to tell when they have tucked their heads away so that neither the eyes nor the beaks are visible.

common-goldeneye-2

This shot is what convinced me that the ducks were male and female common goldeneyes.

driftwood-tree

Behind the goldeneyes was a driftwood tree.

Canada-geese

Canada gees are a fairly common site on the river or in the ponds.

motion-pacific-mural

This mural is the side of the Motion Pacific dance studio.

spiderman

I rarely visit Pacific south of Laurel, so I had not seen these sculptures before.

King-Kong

This gorilla sculpture was part of the same group as the Spiderman sculpture.

We had lunch at Cruz Kitchen and Taps, which replaces Saturn Cafe. I had a blackened-fish sandwich, which has a good sauce, but the fish itself was flavorless (probably tilapia). My wife had the breakfast tacos, which were probably a better choice. The food was not very exciting, and the traffic noise on Laurel made eating outdoors less pleasant that it could have been. We might eat there again, but it won’t be high on our list of destinations.

curly-willow

On the way home, we noticed that the curly willow that was cut down in front of Emily’s Bakery is beginning to regrow from the stump.

house-finch

On Laurel Street, I saw a small bird at the top of a tree, but could not identify it live. Using the max zoom and then enlarging the picture in Photoshop Elements, I could see that it was a house finch.

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