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Author Topic: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California  (Read 3022 times)

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2022, 08:16:01 PM »


White-leaf Mazanita, Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida, is one of the primary chaparral shrubbery species. This species is extremely drought tolerant; however in extreme cases of drought even this species can show signs of stress.



Some of the younger specimens of Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida are often better able to cope with extreme drought. This specimen is well clothed with foliage and has many nascent influences.



Arctostaphylos viscida ssp. viscida is an early blooming species. This nascent flower bud had not opened yet; however I observed some plants with open flowers. The flowers of this species are an important source of nectar for our native hummingbirds, and a host of native insects.



The evergreen species, Penstemon heterophyllus var. purdyi, will open with lavender-blue flowers much later during the spring blooming season.



Quercus durata var. durata is a small evergreen oak, generally found growing in the chaparral plant community. Forms with small densely set foliage are particularly attractive.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #31 on: January 24, 2022, 08:35:10 PM »


Garrya congdonii is an upright evergreen shrub. Good forms of this species are quite handsome. The nascent pendent inflorescence appears in the late summer with the flowers opening in the spring.



A number of Chlorogalum species are native to California. Chlorogalum pomeridianum is the most common species in our region. A tall inflorescence with small white flowers appears in the late spring. The flowers tend to open in the evening and are said to be fragrant; however I have never been able to detect the fragrance in the wild or in our garden.



Agriculture, ranching, urban and suburban development, and the invasion of non-native annual grasses have, for the most part, destroyed the open prairie Bunchgrass ecosystems of California. Remnants of our native perennial Bunch Grass ecosystem can sometimes be found in and on the periphery of the chaparral ecosystem. Needlegrass, Stipa species, were once an integral part of these bunchgrass ecosystems. Pictured is most likely Stipa pulcha; however other Stipa species can also be found. A positive identification can easily be made when they are in bloom.



Sanicula crassicaulis is a perennial woodland species. The foliage of Sanicula crassicaulis is very similar in appearance to Delphinium hansenii ssp. hansenii and they can occupy similar habitat niches. Delphinium hansenii is a striking species when in bloom and was also seen on this outing.



The Oracle Oak, Quercus x morehus is a natural hybrid between the California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii and the Interior Live Oak, Querus wislizenii. It is not a common oak; however generally a few can be seen in most Upper Sonoran Oak Woodland/ Savannah ecosystems.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2022, 08:38:27 PM »


Sanicula bipinnatifida, Purple Sanicula, is another commonly seen Sanicula species in this area.  Both of these Apiaceae (Carrot Family) species are perennial woodland species.



Primula (Dodecatheon) hendersonii is a small-growing perennial with very attractive nodding magenta-colored flowers in the early spring.



Our Goldback Ferns, Pentagramma triangularis, are frequently seen in shaded, often rocky, sites in the Upper Sonoran Life Zone. They are a xeric, dryland species, never found growing in perennially moist sites.



Lupinus albifrons var. albifrons is a sun-loving xeric species. The best forms of this species seem to always inhabit dry, steep, south-facing slopes. This group of plants was found growing on a grassy, sunny knoll. Encroaching oaks were beginning to shade this site, thus the plants were developing a looser, more open growth habit.



Lepechinia calycina is another highly aromatic chaparral species. During cold weather this species can drop its leaves; however new growth quickly follows. The Lamiaceae (Mint Family) species frequently have highly aromatic foliage. Monardella sheltonii, another aromatic Lamiaceae, was also seen on this outing.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #33 on: January 28, 2022, 07:11:15 PM »


Diplacus aurantiacus is frequently seen in dry, rocky sites. This species enjoys full sun. The yellow-orange flowers are produced for many months in the spring. I did not see any open flowers on this outing, however I observed open flowers on plants growing along the freeway as I traveled to our El Dorado County property (27 January).



As I continued on my survey, I eventually worked my way up into a canyon traversing the north-facing slope. At one location there is an old, well-established, single specimen of Pinus ponderosa. Pinus ponderosa is a common species of the Transition Life Zone higher in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Based on the names of 49er era settlements and other historic records, I have often wondered if the range of this species extended into lower elevation sites during the Little Ice Age. The glaciers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains are remnants from the Little Ice Age. This is one more thing for me to look into in the future.



Many shade-loving ferns were seen on the shaded, north facing slopes of the canyon. Polypodium calirhiza was frequently seen. This is a dryland species. During the summer months the fronds disappear as the plant rests in its summer dormancy.  Summer dormancy aids a number of California species to both maximize growth and reproduction during our wetter seasons, and have a better opportunity to survive our long, dry, and hot summers.



California Maiden-hair Fern, Adiantum jordonii, is another dryland fern species that is dormant during the summertime.



California Dutchman’s Pipe, Aristolochia californica, was coming into new growth. This species is the primary food source for the larvae Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly, Battus philenor.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #34 on: January 31, 2022, 02:52:00 AM »


Tauschia hartwegii is a member of the Carrot Family, Apiaceae. This perennial species is found growing in shaded canyons and pine-oak woodland habitats.



I was surprised to find a single specimen of Tauschia hartwegii in bloom. Generally this species blooms later in the growing season.



Often the health and resiliency of an ecosystem can be partly assessed by the reproduction rate of one of the dominant climax species. I found a number of young Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii, scattered in the canyon I was surveying. This was a very good indication of health and resiliency; however it is important to assess additional aspects of the ecosystem dynamics before coming to any conclusion. The fact that leaf drop had not occurred caught my attention. This has been a frequent observation this autumn and winter. Many drought stressed oaks in our region dropped their leaves extremely late. In extreme cases, the leaf abscission layer never formed and the dried leaves are still clinging to the trees. These trees are extremely drought stressed and may even be dead. Obviously, these are strong indications that the current ecosystem is in a state of decay and transformation to another state of equilibrium.



In our region, Madrone, Arbutus menziesii, is commonly found in the Transition Life Zone. Occasionally, I find old mature specimens in shaded canyons at much lower elevations. This tree is growing at a very low elevation and it is very unusual in that it is very young.



This mature specimen of Clematis lasiantha still had many ripe seed heads clinging to the vine. Small birds, such as hummingbirds, will use these lingering seed heads for lining their nests.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2022, 02:54:16 AM »


While a few Clematis lasiantha were still holding seed, many were now beginning new growth.



Chaparral Honeysuckle, Lonicera interrupta, was well into its new growth cycle. Early emergence of new growth is normal for this species.



Lonicera interrupta can be a very vigorous species. It is not unusual to find vines burying other plant species or forming large twinning mounds.



I was very pleased to find many of our California native bunch grasses surviving in the chaparral habitat and some of the isolated woodland canyons. Elymus multisetus (pictured) grew fairly abundantly in some locations. In other locations there were strong stands of Deer Grass, Muhlenbergia rigens. In isolated shaded canyons Elymus gluacus ssp. gluacus, Blue Wild-Rye, was occasionally observed.

I am very pleased to be surveying our low elevation habitats again. This was a great start to the season.

Until the next time…
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #36 on: February 03, 2022, 04:30:12 PM »


I had a very successful outing yesterday to a very botanically rich area. It is still early in the season, however there were still many plants to observe. I will be reporting on this outing over the next 1 to 2 weeks.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2022, 01:28:30 AM by Robert »
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #37 on: February 08, 2022, 02:21:58 AM »


My most recent outing was to a lower Transition Zone ecosystem. Although this site is well within the Yellow Pine Belt (Transition Zone), the geology and history of this site during the last 170 years have influenced the ecology of this site dramatically. This site has many characteristics of the Upper Sonoran Life Zone. The life zone designations are generalizations. In reality ecosystems can be very fluid, often shifting spatially very rapidly with changing environmental variables.



Madrone, Arbutus menziesii, is a very common tree found in the Transition Life Zone.



The trunk and larger branches of Arbutus menziesii is quite striking. As the trees age, the rough and dark older bark is shed revealing the polished, lighter colored inner bark.



California Bay, Umbellularia californica, is another frequently observed tree in the lower Transition Zone. This species has highly aromatic foliage. The presence of this tree can frequently be detected well before the trees are seen.



Despite the dry weather for the past month, the creeks in this area are low but still flowing well. Through much of the later part in December until 3 January, this area was blanketed with snow. The last measurable precipitation in the area was on 8 January. On the day of this outing 2 February, there was still water puddleing in a few areas and the soil in most of the area was still moist. As the solar radiation potential increases each day, without precipitation the moist soils will quickly become dry. There are areas that become intensely hot and dry in summer.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #38 on: February 08, 2022, 02:25:38 AM »


There are many serpentine rock outcropping at this site. Many highly specialized plant species can be found growing in these seemingly barren sites.



Lewisia rediviva var. rediviva is found growing almost exclusively on serpentine in our part of California. In this photo, they look like little sea urchins.



I found many healthy specimens of Lewisia rediviva on this outing. The plants are propagating well at this site. In the spring the flower display will be spectacular: Lewisia blooming with many other annual, perennial, and bulbous species. During the hot, dry summer months, Lewisia and most other perennial-bulbous species go into dormancy and disappear for the summer and autumn.



Eriogonum tripodum is a semi-woody, subshrub that remains evergreen and permanent through the summer and autumn months.



Eriogonum tripodum is variable. Some forms have very silvery foliage.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #39 on: February 09, 2022, 01:35:52 PM »


A number of interesting plant species grow in this summer dry-hot serpentine landscape. One of my goals on this outing was to determine the early germination of specific annual species. The distribution of annual species such as Chaenactis glabriuscula var. heterocarpha, Githopsis pulchella ssp. serpentinicola, and Diplacus angustatus is generally confined to shallow rocky serpentine or gabbro based soils. These habitats are scattered and disjointed from one another. In addition, land development and land use practices have highly altered and fragmented [Jasmin thinks destroyed] suitable habitats for these species to the point where these species can be difficult to find in our area.



Another goal on this outing was to check for the early emergence of the perennial Viola species at this site. I have recorded low elevation forms of Viola purpurea and V. sheltonii at this site. In addition, there are several locations where Viola douglasii can be found.



A typical Transitions Zone Yellow Pine forest surrounds this serpentine landscape. Pinus ponderosa, Ponderosa Pine, is the dominant species. Pinus lambertiana, and Pseudotsuga menziesii are also residents of this forest system. Umbellularia californica, and Arbutus menziesii--mentioned earlier--are some of the more common broad leaf evergreen species found in the Transition Zone forest.



The dwarf evergreen oak Quercus durata var. durata is frequently found growing on serpentine and gabbro based soils in our area. The foliage of some forms has a striking silver powdery coating on the upper surface.



The Apiacaea, Carrot Family, species Lomatium utriculatum is found growing in serpentine rock crevices.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #40 on: February 09, 2022, 01:38:44 PM »


In a sunny protected crevice I found one specimen of Lomatium utriculatum in bloom. The majority of the plants of this species will bloom later in the spring.



Rhamnus ilicifolia is a small evergreen shrub commonly found in chaparral ecosystems in our region. It is a little mounding shrub. In autumn there usually are small buff brick-red berries.



As I hiked through the serpentine-chaparral habitat, I noted many common chaparral species. Drymocallis glandulosa var. glandulosa prefers semi-shaded sites in this area. They have many five-petaled yellow flowers on tall stems in the spring.



Generally evergreen, Monardella sheltonii is a low-growing, very aromatic perennial with bright lavender flowers in the spring.



The small evergreen perennial species Eriophyllum lanatum var. achilleoides is an interesting indicator species. Although generally a short-lived species, and possessing a great deal of drought tolerance, this species is still a good indicator of drought stress at a specific site. Careful observation of this species during the growing season can reveal a great deal of information.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #41 on: February 09, 2022, 09:11:32 PM »


Near the crest of a hill many emerging leaves of Calochortus monophyllus were seen. Representatives of the Themidaceae--Brodiaea Family--such as Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum and Triteleia hyacinthina were well advanced in growth; however they are still a number of weeks away from blooming.



Aspidotis densa grows through a wide altitude range in our region. This species is commonly seen at altitudes between 2,000 feet (610 meters) and 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) in our area. This fern species is a dryland species growing in habitats where during the summer and autumn months conditions are extremely xeric.



Later in the day, I investigated a ravine where there was a dense Transition Zone coniferous forest. Sugar Pine, Pinus lambertiana, shared space with the Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, and predominant Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa. The cones of Sugar Pine are very distinct in shape, being large and long in shape.



Bear Clover, Chamaebatia foliolosa, created low dense carpets of fern-like evergreen foliage where the forest canopy was less dense. The foliage of this species is highly aromatic. Another common name for this species is Mountain Misery, as many object to its odor. When I was very young, my parents thought that the odor of this plant made me carsick. Looking back, I think that it was the car exhaust that made me carsick; there was no control of car exhaust emissions in the U.S.A. in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.



In the semi-forested area I occasionally came across Sanicula bipinnatifida (pictured). Sanicula crassicaulis was also present in much greater numbers. Both species are associated with the Upper Sonoran Life Zone. Their populations diminish rapidly with elevation in this area.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2022, 09:14:26 PM »


I crossed a perennial creek in several locations in the ravine. Moisture-loving species such as Woodwardia fimbriata, Western Chain Fern, and Juncus balticus ssp. ater grew near the stream. Wood Rose, Rosa gymnocarpa var. gymnocarpa was found growing on higher ground in shaded locations.



As the forest began to thin, colonies of the yellow-flowered Iris hartwegii ssp. hartwegii began to appear.



I left the coniferous forest near the crest of the opposite ridge. Here I had a good view of the forested landscape. Areas of extreme drought stress were very apparent. Our region of California has experienced 20 years of consistently dry weather and drought. There have been a few well above average precipitation seasons, however the overall rate of yearly precipitation has declined ~ 20% over the past 150 years, with a very marked decline in the last 20 years. Currently, I am analyzing other local historical precipitation data to more precisely support this trend.



After leaving the coniferous forest, I reentered the chaparral landscape. This ecosystem is strongly influenced by the underlying geology of this site; however this site still has scars from the activities of the gold seekers during the California Gold Rush. Mine tailings are very evident. In some places, placer mining removed all the soil down to the serpentine bedrock. Now, 100 years or more later, very few plants grow in these areas. Additionally, xenobiotics are still present in this area: toxic mineral species based on redox reactions are in the soil; and mercury used by the miners to extract the gold flakes from the mining sluices is still present. How these ecosystems appeared before foreign settlers and gold seekers arrived is very hard to determine. The distribution and variability of plants species has certainly diminished greatly; however there are often few detailed and accurate written records to help reconstruct the appearance of these pre-settlement ecosystems. Sadly, in other ways, the alteration and destruction of our existing ecosystems and the plants that grow in them continues.



Delphinium hansenii ssp. hansenii is one of the few species that has partly recolonized the more harshly impacted locations at this site. This Delphinium species is stunningly beautiful when in bloom with its lavender-blue flowers.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #43 on: February 12, 2022, 07:59:59 PM »


I finished my survey of this site by exploring the chaparral on a west-facing slope. The patchwork of chaparral shrubbery was interspersed with scattered stands of California Gray Pine, Pinus sabiniana, and occasional stands of Ponderosa Pine, Pinus ponderosa.



Delphinium hansenii ssp. hansenii is adaptable to various environmental conditions. I found a very dense stand of this species growing in full sun among broken pieces of serpentine rock. This habitat is extremely hot and dry during the summer-early autumn months. Delphinium hansenii is a perennial species that copes with the harsh growing conditions by going dormant during the hot dry summer.



The small evergreen perennial Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum var. nudum is well adapted to grow in hot, dry, sunny sites. From the rosette of leathery leaves rise tall stems with many small white flowers during the spring.



During the autumn months, shortly after the first rainfall many California native annual species germinate and begin growth. During the winter months the earth-toned foliage of Gilia capitata ssp. mediomontana is difficult to detect in the bare mineral soil where this species frequently germinates.  Gilia is extremely popular as a nectar and food source for a variety of bees, insects, and birds.



Lithophragma parviflorum var. parviflorum is found growing in moist, semi-shaded cervices among the serpentine rock. The growth of this perennial species emerges from bulblet baring rhizomes when the autumn rains commence. Stems with small white to pink flowers arise from the foliage during the spring.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate – Northern California
« Reply #44 on: February 12, 2022, 08:01:35 PM »


Big Squirreltail, Elymus multisetus, is one of the most frequently seen grass species at this site. During the winter, if remnants of the distinct inflorescence can be found, the auricles that are frequently present clasping the stems easily identify this species.



Our perennial California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica, is frequently found at many low elevations sites throughout California. This species grows abundantly at the outing site I visited; however I often question if the plants are native to the site or were introduced via some habitat revegatation effort or part of a local road cut revegatation project. California Poppy and a few other annual native species were, and may still be, used in revegatation seed mixes within the state of California. The use of native plant species might be well intentioned; however if miss-used in inappropriate habitat ecosystems, there can be unintended and sometimes detrimental results.

Once again, I had a very insightful and productive outing.

Until the next time…
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

 


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