[fosc] seed hike report

Karen Paulsell kpaulsell@pacbell.net
Wed, 23 Jul 2003 21:27:05 -0700

Crew: Kristen, Nancy, Lois, Terrell and Karen<br><br>
Route: From the Ranger Station, down to Sunset Trail, to Sunset Loop,
then Fern Ravine Trail up to the wet meadow by the Horse Arena. Around
the left-hand side of the loop road there, to the Wild Rose Trail, back
to Sunset Loop, and back to the yellow gate.<br><br>
Kristen had consulted a seed-collecting calendar file that someone had
compiled, and made a list of things that we wanted that might be ripe.
Some were, some weren't, and then we got other things besides.<br><br>
Fringe Cups' (<i>Tellima grandiflora</i>) little cupfuls of small brown
seeds were hard to resist, we wound up with a bunch. We started
picking-out the few ripe seeds on the Hedge Nettles (<i>Stachys
ajugoides</i>) on some plants near the Fern picnic site. As we got higher
in the watershed, and especially into sunnier spots, lots more seeds on
each spike were ripe, we could just tap the spikes over the envelopes to
collect the seeds. So we got a bunch of them too. <br><br>
The Sweet Cicely (<i>Osmorhiza chilensis</i>) plants from last year's
seed-collecting are looking quite grand in the nursery, so we also
couldn't resist getting more of these easy-to-gather seeds. They're so
distinctive, twinned long black seeds on the dry stalks. <br><br>
And somehow, we wound up with more Blue Wildrye (<i>Elymus glaucus</i>)
even though we got as much as we thought we'd need on the last
trip.&nbsp; But they're so handsomely tall and gold, especially in
masses, you want to have a thick patch of them. Somehow, we didn't come
across much Bee Plant (<i>Scrophularia californica</i>) but we did get a
bit. We also collected another common plant, <i>Phacelia californica
</i>-- it's flower heads look like curled-up blue caterpillars. They
heads are just starting to get ripe and dry. <br><br>
It's berry-time: we got a squishy baggie-full of the native Blackberry
(<i>Rubus ursinus</i>). Purple fingers. Didn't eat many. And just a few
berries of its cousin, Thimbleberry, (<i>Rubus parviflorus</i>). We also
got a few berries from the Black Nightshade, <i>Solanum americanum</i>.
When we crossed the bridge over Fern Creek, we checked the Wild Ginger
(<i>Asarum caudatum</i>) there for more seeds -- didn't see any pods.
There was a bit of Elk Clover (<i>Aralia californica</i>) there, too,
some in bloom. Some of us climbed upstream a bit, to see what was there.
Time for a cookie-break. Yum, Kristen's famous choco-cookies, and Lois
brought us healthy-food apricot bars.<br><br>
We found yet-another unknown sedge (<i>Carex mysteriosus2</i>) with ripe
seeds. It was bright-green, stems maybe 20&quot; tall, the inflorescence
about 4 or 5 cm, narrow, with 5 or 6 spikelets. We found a similar sedge
farther up the trail, (<i>Carex mysteriosus3</i>) further up the trail --
similar to the other one, but the inflorescence was ball-shaped. We got
seeds of both. Maybe a Carex guru will some into our midst and enlighten
us...or we'll simply spread these mystery sedges about, who
As we neared the top of the Fern Ravine Trail, we found a day-camp group
from the Rotary nature center. The kids had a small fire going, and were
using embers to burn cavities into slats of wood -- making spoons! One of
the kids was using one of those bow-things, like you make a fire with. He
was trying to make a spork, he said, not start a fire. They had a bunch
of arrows, too, they'd been doing archery. I was thinking of jumping
ship, hanging with them, looked like fun. We did invite them to come help
out at the nursery. Would be cool to start working with these young folks
on restoration/learning projects.<br><br>
This is one area where it's easy to see the validity of Martin
Matarrese's concern for the redwood understory -- it's hard to figure out
where the trail is, while great swatches of hillside have been trampled
bare of understory and duff. Definitely needs to have log edging to
define the trail, or fences built, if the logs don't keep people on the
curvy and narrow trails. <br><br>
Once we reached the closed-off asphalt drive, we took a small detour to
visit a very dense <i>Ribes divericatum</i> (Scraggly Gooseberry) growing
right by the asphalt. Yup, sure is scraggly. Nope, no
At the arena wet meadow, we checked out the Alders (<i>Alnus
rhombifolia</i>) -- time to update the &quot;seed collection times&quot;
list, they're nowhere near ready. But the seeds on cattails certainly
were ready, spike of seeds frowsy and fraying. But&nbsp; the Bridgeview
meadow is the only other wet-seepy-meadow spot, or, well, maybe a spot
just above the driving range is starting to qualify. None of us could
remember if there were cattails at Bridgeview, but so Kristen and
Terrell&nbsp; packed some fluff into an envelope, and then send great
clouds of seeds wafting about. <br><br>
And another puzzle: a <i>Gnaphalium</i>, just fat white buds we just
don't know them yet, what is this? There's 3 on Martha Lowe's list:
<table border=3D1>
<tr><td width=3D236><font size=3D2>Gnaphalium bicolor<td width=3D219>Pearly
Everlasting, Bioletti's Cudweed</td></tr>
<tr><td width=3D236>Gnaphalium=20
californicum<td width=3D219>Cudweed</td></tr>
<tr><td width=3D236>Gnaphalium canescens ssp.
beneolens<td width=3D219>Cudweed</td></tr>
After a short pit stop -- more cookies, some of Terrell's yummy trail mix
-- we headed along Horse Arena drive.&nbsp; I puzzled a bit at some weird
plant I didn't know, and then got distracted. But Kristen and Terrell
started looking closer...it had buds, not quite blooming. With his
magnifier, Terrell was pretty sure that the big white buds were an
Aster-family plant. And according to a quick look at pictures and
descriptions in <i>Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region</i> (Biedleman
and Kozloff) we thought it might be a <i>Baccharis salicifolia</i>. I've
been checking more, though, and Ertter doesn't list it as present in the
East Bay hills -- but she does show <i>Baccharis douglasii</i>.&nbsp; And
looking at the pix and descriptions in the Jepson manual. Based on the
woodiness-factor --as I recall, they were barely-woody at the base -- it
might be the latter. Guess we have to go back soon, take another look.
Just not sure. But definitely not something on our list.<br><br>
Also worthy of another look, there were some very tall
<i>Gnaphalium</i>-looking plants right there, too. If you're up by the
Horse Arena, just go through the yellow gate, bear left on the asphalt
loop, both plants are on the left before you get to the Wild Rose trail
turnoff. (There's a post that says &quot;no bicycles&quot; but no trail
name at the turn-off.) Do tell us!<br><br>
We didn't see much of note going down Wild Rose -- part of the descent is
so steep, you don't get to look at much except your feet. We did collect
a bit of some kind of Gnaphalium on the Sunset Loop, plus a bit more
<i>Agoseris grandiflorum</i> -- lovely name for our native dandelion,
It's so hard for our seed-collecting crew to stay on task...Kristen and
Terrell climbed down a pretty steep slope along Fern Ravine Trail to
remove a large ivy vine from one of the really-big Redwoods near the
trail -- it was waaaaay up the trunk.&nbsp; I tackled an easier one
higher up the creek, while other folks were gathering blackberries.&nbsp;
Other feats -- Kristen managed to girdle a large <i>Ligustrum
</i>(privet) with her clippers...several Monterey pines bit the dust.
Various acacias were broken or severely pruned, and some outlying bits of
the&nbsp; apparently unstoppable <i>Ehrharta </i>invasion were
nevertheless pulled.&nbsp; I'm starting to wonder, when I try to look
this plant up on the invasive-plants websites, it seems to be low on the
invasives lists, and it seems to imply it's a riparian/moist woodlands
type of plant. But I seem to be finding it in hotter, higher, dryer and
sunnier spots than that would lead one to expect. Maybe it's just the
unusually wet year?</html>