Thursday, January 1, 2015

Favorite Flora of 2014

Yes, it's that time of year when us nature bloggers, spent of content and creativity, dump "best of" and "yearly favorites" on our dear readers. So, in keeping with tradition...

2014 may have been the 3rd drought year in a row for California, but I did get around enough to see a few first-time-for-me native species that weren't sad, dry and fried. Here are 8 of my favorites that didn't happen to make it into previous posts.

First up - on an April trip to Mono County, I caught Desert Peach, Prunus andersonii, in full bloom:


As you can see, it resembles the closely-related Japanese Cherry Blossom tree, even when light pink, such as this one along highway 395 near Lee Vining:

light pink peach

But unlike the familiar urban and suburban cherry trees, desert peach is a shrub that blooms soon after snowmelt in California's mountains and passes, so is often hard to catch in full glory. And being a desert-adapted species, it doesn't always go to fruit - but I caught that in 2014 as well:


Next, on the sacred Mount Umunhum, above Santa Clara Valley, I was introduced to a very charismatic rock-loving buckwheat, Eriogonum saxatile, called Hoary Buckwheat:

hoary buckwheat

hoary buckwheat

The flowers both vary in color and fade as they age, giving populations a range of eye-pleasing hues. But even the clusters of basal leaves, with their namesake hoary-frosted look, are striking:

hoary buckwheat

Further north, in Mendocino County, I enjoyed the blush of another species of Mariposa Lily, Calochortus vestae, the Coast Range Mariposa:

vestae mugshots

And along the Yuba River, and while on a drive across Yosemite, I saw 3 new-for-me Sierran species that struck my fancy - Woodland Wire Lettuce, Stephanomeria lactucina, Sierra Prettyface, Triteleia montana, and Rothrock's Fiddleleaf, Nama rothrockii:

woodland wire lettuce

sierra triteleia

rothrock's fiddleleaf

Around the edge of an alkali wetland in Mono County, we were treated to charming patches of Parish's Popcornflower, Plagiobothrys parishii, a rare Rank 1B.1 California endemic:

parish's popcornflower

And, last - in Short Canyon, an oasis in the West Mojave, I saw some very hardy, scraggly and pointy Desert Oaks, also called Palmer Oak, Quercus palmeri - a true desert survivor:

short canyon oasis

palmer oak

palmer oak

palmer oak

palmer oak

palmer oak

Now on to 2015.

Happy New Year!



  1. Lovely series of photos. Happy New Year. :)

  2. I agree that the eriogonum is charismatic, especially the leaves. Wow, what a beautiful rosette!

    Best wishes in 2015


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