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Author Topic: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California  (Read 92378 times)

Robert

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2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« on: January 17, 2017, 04:42:50 AM »
2017 has gotten off to an interesting start.  :-\  We have had 5 days of dry weather since a series of powerful storms moved through Northern California. As of today, Monday 16 January, we are still dealing with the after effects of the storms. Today the levees system continues to fail along our major rivers; more huge sink-holes have opened; and rocks and trees continue to tumble from the mountainsides.

Today was the last day of a 3 day holiday in the U.S.A. The crowds were still out, but I felt it would be a good time to check on the countryside and get a first hand idea what might be going on, and what sort of outings might be appropriate in the coming weeks. The scenic route to the farm is an easy, short, and safe auto trip to make, even with my 91 year old mother. The road travels through a sparsely populated and very natural part of the canyon above the South Fork of the American River. There are many places to stop along the road and see interesting plants.



The last 2 days have been foggy and with low overcast, temperatures hovering around 2C to 3C - ah!  :)  typical weather in Northern California during the winter.

It is a good time of year to observe native ferns.



Many of the shaded cliffs are covered with Polypodium calirhiza growing directly out of the vertical rock faces.



Goldback fern, Pentagramma triangularis, grows almost everywhere, but especially in shaded locations.



Pellaea mucronata prefers dry sunny rock crevices, but here it is with a sprig of Polypodium calirhiza.



The low overcast cloaked the canyon rim in fog. Look closely at the river in the canyon and you can see the high water mark left from the recent storms/flooding.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 04:45:24 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: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2017, 05:03:32 AM »


The high water mark was much higher than I thought it might be. The flooding certainly scoured out a goodly portion of the lower canyon. This will be very interesting to check on later in the season.



This time of year one can get an idea of the plants that might be blooming come spring. Pictured are Clarkia seedlings. I have observed five different Clarkia species in this area. The show can be spectacular.



Dudleya cymosa likes growing from vertical rock crevices and generally prefers a bit of shade.



Lupinus albifrons, Bush Lupine, on the other hand prefers hot, sunny cliffs and steep hillsides.



This was a banner year for Toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia. Many plants are still loaded with berries.
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: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2017, 05:14:58 AM »


On close inspection the berries look tired, however from a distance the show is still very pleasing. It is great seeing the Toyon scattered about the chaparral.



Woolly Sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum, is even attractive without its bright golden yellow flowers. Their flowering show on Poho Ridge last year was amazing.



There is still plenty of water cascading down the mountiansides.



There were many mudslides along this route. Although the mess had been cleared away, it appeared that the slides had made the road impassible.



There was no shortage of large rocks that had slid down the mountain.
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: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2017, 05:35:03 AM »


There was much evidence that many trees, shrubs, and other debris had come down the mountain during the storms.



In well shaded rocky areas there were large colonies of Micranthes californica. The white flowers of this species are quite small, however they are very beautiful when seen blooming in large colonies.



Sedum spathelifolium can be found on shaded rock rock faces. They often form large colonies directly on rocks. During the summer they can dry to the point that they look dead, yet they easily come back once the rains return in the autumn.



This time of year the mosses on the rocks can be very interesting.



A number of different species are often seen together, creating beautiful textures and a spectrum of greens.
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: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2017, 05:56:02 AM »


Many trees have an amazing structure especially when viewed without foliage. This California Buckeye, Aesculus californica, caught my attention.



The young bark of Bigleaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum, can be striking.



Rock Creek was running high and clear. This is a good sign considering the rain we have received.



Another view of Rock Creek with White Alder, Alnus rhomibifolia, in bloom.

It was good to get a first hand assessment of the current conditions out in the countryside. At this time, conditions limit the sites I can visit. Access to many places I like to visit may be restricted due to flooding, high water, or poor road conditions. More stormy weather is in the forecast. I wish to get out soon, however I will have to monitor current conditions and plan accordingly.

Stay tuned....   :)
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

fermi de Sousa

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 06:42:51 AM »
Stay tuned....   :)
Definitely!
Lovely to see all that water rushing down the hillside but it has obviously done damage as well,
cheers
fermi
Mr Fermi de Sousa, Redesdale,
Victoria, Australia

Cfred72

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 07:03:25 AM »
(Attachment Link)

Many trees have an amazing structure especially when viewed without foliage. This California Buckeye, Aesculus californica, caught my attention.


It looks almost like a pre-bonsai. In any case, it could be worked like that.
Frédéric Catoul, Amay en Hesbaye, partie francophone de la Belgique.

Gabriela

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 07:44:37 PM »
I'd say it was a good start for your botanical adventures Robert! 
Gabriela
Ontario, zone 5
http://botanicallyinclined.org/

Robert

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2017, 05:21:57 AM »
Definitely!
Lovely to see all that water rushing down the hillside but it has obviously done damage as well,
cheers
fermi

Fermi,

I am eagerly awaiting the spring season. I predict that the wildflowers will be dazzling!

It looks almost like a pre-bonsai. In any case, it could be worked like that.

Fred,

California Buckeye is a favorite of mine. This time of year they definitely get my attention and yes some can have a beautifully sculptured appearance.

I'd say it was a good start for your botanical adventures Robert! 


Gabriela,

I was thinking that I was off to a very slow start so far this year  :-\  , but yes this is a very positive way of looking at the situation.  8)  Thank you for the comment.  :)  The next series of storm are starting to move in now. I will certainly be rained out this week if the forecast holds. The next batch of storms will also be cold with low snow levels. This is very welcome, however if the snow keeps piling up the high country will not be open until late June.

The positive side of all of this is that the stormy weather may create the perfect opportunity for me to visit Mount Diablo.

The short of this all is that all the stormy weather has ended the drought in Northern California. The wildflowers will most likely be amazing this year. This is a good start to my botanical adventures!  8)
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

Hoy

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2017, 08:17:08 PM »
Very interesting to see the wintery landscape, Robert. In a way, it has much in common with ours here at the coast. But of course, the plants are not the same - except maybe the mosses. They look very familiar!

You even seem to have more rain than we for the time being ;D  And more snow in the mountains for sure.
Trond Hoy, gardening on the rainy west coast of Norway.

Robert

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2017, 04:51:20 AM »
Very interesting to see the wintery landscape, Robert. In a way, it has much in common with ours here at the coast. But of course, the plants are not the same - except maybe the mosses. They look very familiar!

You even seem to have more rain than we for the time being ;D  And more snow in the mountains for sure.

Trond,

We have had over 800mm of precipitation to date. This is about 180% - 190% of average for this date. It seems like our weather cycles go from one extreme to another - drought to floods, then back again. Personally I can do without the droughts. I do not mind the rain at all and I enjoy "normal" (cool, wet, and overcast) winter-like weather in our part of California.

Right now it is raining again (actually storming - strong winds too). The snow levels are fairly low and are expected to move lower with each storm. By Sunday we might have snow at the farm. At the Sierra crest there is 4 meters of snow on the ground.

I know what you mean, our north facing slopes this time of year have the feeling of the coast - in almost any temperate climate - Northern California, Oregon, and from what I have seen Norway too. It is not surprising that Sitka Spruce has naturalized on the Norwegian coast.

It looks like I will be delayed by one day - returning home to Sacramento. I have all my all rainy weather gear there. By next week I hope to get out rain or shine.

Today I went to Skunk Hollow near Salmon Falls (a low elevation site on the South Fork of the American River). It was pouring rain! Nobody was there. If I had my rain gear I would have hiked around anyway. When I was young and Gorex outdoor gear became popular I loved hiking around in the rain and snow. Now I use a fishing suit like the ones used by fishermen in Alaska. Keeps me dry and warm!

Well, I will just have to wait a bit longer to get out.....    :(
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 04:53:53 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

Alan_b

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2017, 08:43:50 AM »
Today the levees system continues to fail along our major rivers

Off-topic but we don't use the word 'levee' in the UK and I've never been too sure what one of these is (apart from somewhere to drive your Chevy to - in the lyrics to 'American Pie').  I looked it up and it seems to be an artificially constructed river embankment ('embankment' being the term in common use here).  Is that correct?  I still cannot make sense of 'but the levee was dry' because if levee means embankment you would expect and want it to be dry, wouldn't you? 
Almost in Scotland.

ArnoldT

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2017, 11:32:32 AM »
Alan:

Levee is a word from our south probably around the New Orleans area. I would imagine it has it's derivation somewhere in a French word.   It was an artificial mound of earth constructed to keep the land on the other side of it dry.  Dyke comes to mind as a similar construction.

The reference to Don McClean's song probably refers to the fact that there wasn't a leak or overflow.


Arnold Trachtenberg
Leonia, New Jersey

Alan_b

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2017, 12:20:52 PM »
An embankment is usually right at the edge of the normal river course.  I'm wondering if a levee could be some way back, so as to allow the river a flood plane but restricting the size of that flood plane?  Or am I imagining this distinction?   
Almost in Scotland.

Robert

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Re: 2017 - Robert's botanical adventures in Northern California
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2017, 12:55:23 PM »
An embankment is usually right at the edge of the normal river course.  I'm wondering if a levee could be some way back, so as to allow the river a flood plane but restricting the size of that flood plane?  Or am I imagining this distinction?   

Alan,

Actually in California levees are constructed and used in several different ways. Sometimes a levee is constructed next to what was the natural river bank. Sometimes they are constructed, as you point out, some distance from the natural bank of a river. In the case of the city of Sacramento there can be several levees constructed; one perhaps near the river bank; then sometimes one or more some distance from the river in case the first levee fails.

It is interesting to note that the City of Sacramento is at risk for a catastrophic levee failure like New Orleans. They (the city planners) continue to approve housing in very risky areas. It is only a matter of time until there is a flood disaster in Sacramento.

As I remember Led Zeppelin had a song about levees, ".....cryin' wont help you, prayin' wont do you no good, when the levee breaks....."  I am sure they were trying to be poetic, however it does make more sense.  :)


Oh.....! I did forget one thing. The powerful storm that passed through 36 hours ago knocked-out power for 10,000 folks in the Sacramento area. Our Sacramento home has no electricity. For us this translates into no heat, lighting, or cooking. We have hot water as it is heated with natural gas. A large redwood tree, Sequoia sempervirens, fell over destroying part of our neighbors house and taking out the power lines and part of a power pole. Before the power line snapped our power service, as well as some of our neighbors services, was pulled completely from the house and meter. We could be without power for a week or more. There is much to repair and more stormy weather will slow the repair process.

Right now I am still at the farm, where we still have electric power. I will be returning home as soon as my brother arrives from Washington State, however he my be delayed too, as the Interstate highway system is closed due to ice storms. When I return home I may lose contact for awhile. The batteries on my lap top will not stay charged forever, and the internet service is terrible during the day in Sacramento (the system clearly needs to be upgraded!). Not lights at night!   :P  There are about 80 folks in our neighborhood without electric power, but our neighbor across the street does have electric power. We can cook a bit, God Bless them!  :)  We are going to have to stay put as we can not find a pet friendly hotel that will accept all of our companion and rescue birds.

It is pouring rain again and the wind is howling. The lights are flickering here at the farm.........

« Last Edit: January 20, 2017, 01:23:31 PM 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

 


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