Plant Trail Reports, Orange County

9 May 2004: Laurel Canyon, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (see Plant Trail Guide)

Besides working on the plant trail guide, my main goal today was to measure the petal lengths and widths of the Ranunculus californicus on this trail, to compare with the R. occidentalis at the Santa Rosa Plateau.

I arrived at the trailhead shortly after 11 am, and the parking lot was only half-full. So there was no problem parking at the trailhead.

The number of annuals, besides non-native grasses, was way down from last year. A number of annual species were almost completely missing this year. However, there were still a fair number of annual non-grass species present.

In contrast, the perennials looked normal this year. Our native perennials have seen half-normal rainfall frequently, and clearly are adapted to thrive and bloom even under that low rainfall.

The loop had good displays of blooms of golden yarrow, elderberry, bush mallow, California everlasting, deerweed, goldenstar, and, near the end, southern Indian pink. (Eriophyllum confertiflorum var. confertiflorum, Sambucus mexicana, Malacothamnus fasciculatus, Gnaphalium californicum, Lotus scoparius var. scoparius, Bloomeria crocea and Silene laciniata ssp. major.)

Mostly missing this year were annuals such as San Diego birdsfoot lotus, strigose lotus, dwarf lupine, purple owl's clover, collar lupine, fiesta flower, popcorn flower, and silver puffs. (Lotus hamatus, L. strigosus, Lupinus bicolor, Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta, Lupinus truncatus, Pholistoma auritum var. auritum, Cryptantha intermedia and Uropappus lindleyi.) Some of these may have had some blooms earlier in the year before my visit, but if so, there was no trace of these plants left today.

When I got to the first section of buttercups, I was dismayed to find no evidence of any blooms at all this year! I went over that section three times, finding no finished bloom stems at all.

But my disappointment turned immediately into happiness in finding the Clarkia sp. in bloom, allowing it to be identified. There were just two plants this year, way down from last year, but they turned out to be elegant clarkia, Clarkia unguiculata, a species I had not seen naturally on a trail before. (The only time I had seen it previously was on the Santa Margarita River Trail at the trailhead, where it came from a wildflower packet that someone had scattered there.) This rarity of finding this taxon is fairly surprising, since I've botanized a number of trails in the SCo and PR, places where this taxon is supposed to be common.

And I was even happier to find the last two blooms of Ranunculus californicus a bit farther down the trail, giving me enough data to make a comparison. (;-)

Plants in bloom: Laurel Canyon Loop

(Information to be supplied)

FamilyLatin NameCommon Name% of Full BloomBeginning
/ Ending

b = beginning
e = ending
1 = full bloom

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Copyright © 2004 by Tom Chester.
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Updated 9 May 2004.