[fosc] Seed walk: Siniwik Loop

Karen Paulsell kpaulsell at pacbell.net
Fri Sep 1 13:15:49 PDT 2006

Crew: Hilary Powers, Adrienne Bryant, Karen Paulsell
Route: Siniwick Loop, then back on Sanborn Drive

On Thursday morning's hike, we got a taste of fall weather -- instead 
of morning fog, we had gusty, changeable winds, some warm and 
easterly. So we hiked the Siniwik Loop Trail in a shower of 
eucalyptus and bay leaves, with freshly peeled madrones and red 
poison oak provided the Bay Area version of "fall color".

We wanted to collect more bits of yerba buena -- but didn't find any 
-- and also some divisions of rough-leaved aster (Aster radulinus) 
but since I didn't bring a hand spade, we only got a few bits that 
were in softer soil. But there's a lot of it along the trail, some 
still in bloom with small, few-petaled aster blooms.

Our first big stop on the hike was the sweet little "hot spot" on 
Siniwik Loop. It's a sunny, rocky spot above the trail. It's the only 
place in the watershed we've seen shooting stars (Dodecatheon 
hendersonii), plus there's Frittilaria affinis (checker lily), native 
dandelion, goldenrod, coyote mint, coffee fern, imbricate phacelia, 
and lots more. I started showing Adrienne and Hilary the difference 
between the leaves of yarrow and the California sheepburr (Acaena 
pinnatifida) (sheepburr leaves look like coarse yarrow leaves, but 
Acaena is in a different plant family, the Rose family) -- and 
realized that there were still seeds on the Acaena. So we poked 
around and found several more plants with a few seeds each.

Nearby we found several hillside pea (Lathyrus vestitus) plants with 
lots of peapods, so we collected several. I have a hard time 
remembering difference between vetches and peas, the the 2 most 
notable clues when keying them aren't available at fruiting time -- 
the appearance of the style, and whether the leaves are "folded in 
bud" or "rolled in bud". But we only have 2 vetches, and it's not 
either of them. And the peapods look exactly like the hillside 
peapods we collected a few weeks ago on the Bridgeview Trail -- I 
just checked our seed stash to be sure.

We hoped to find seeds for the wood rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) and ground 
rose (Rosa spithamea). The rose hips on the first wood rose we came 
to were orange, but didn't look fully ripe, so we passed it by. We 
did find one ripe Rosa gymnocarpa hip a bit later -- then we found 
some on plants I was just sure were ground rose -- very short plants, 
in a little mini-thicket. Then, oh dear, more confusion -- we found a 
few hips on a plant that looked a bit tall for a ground rose, but had 
sepals on 2 out of 3 hips. And Rosa gymnocarpa (gymno = naked, carpa 
= seed) doesn't have sepals.  So we picked a bit of the plant and 
tucked it into the envelope.

I just looked up Barbara Ertter's online key to roses (she did the 
Rose-family entries for the Jepson Manual). Looking at the thorns 
with a hand lens, I vote for ground rose, based on the look of the 
prickles. Ertter's rose page 
is:  http://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/ina/roses/roses.html

Sharp-eyed Hilary spotted a ripe seed on one of the big patches of 
small false Solomon's seal (Smilacina stellata), and we found a 
second one nearby. These plants propagate very well vegetatively, and 
seem to produce few seeds, which seem to be quite popular with 
predators. So we don't collect many. The only batch we've tried to 
propagate did pretty well -- after a long time in stratification, we 
got about 20 plants. They're still small --- Lily family plants seem 
to be really slow from seed. We'll add the 3 resulting seeds to a few 
more we collected this year, and pop them in the fridge.

We checked on the small patch of California tea plants (Rupertia 
physodes) -- we never find flowers or seeds, and this was no 
exception.  There's only two other, much smaller patches we've ever 
found, and they've both been whacked by the Fire Dept. fuel 
management . The Jepson Manual says that the plants are "sometimes 
stoloned", and this patch does look that way, -- so we may be able to 
try divisions this winter. Maybe it will oblige us with flowers and 
fruit with a little nursery pampering. It's a great small understory 
plant for a north-facing slope in a mixed hardwood forest, so we'd 
like to propagate them.

We were hoping to collect seeds from the Clarkia rubicunda and to 
check on the tiny patch of California pinks -- but found the whole 
area had been goat grazed. I guess it's not so bad about the Clarkia 
-- they annual grass was really dense this year, and the Clarkia 
would have been very hard to find once they finished blooming. But 
there's only 7 or 8 California pinks (Silene californica), the only 
spot we've found them, and we've never managed to collect seed. This 
year they were doing especially great, lots of top growth and 
flowers, since we'd dragged in some wood to block the rogue 
bicyclists from swooping off-trail across them. Some nice yampah 
plants got munched too. Sigh.

Oh well. We walked back up to Sanborn, collected a few gumplant 
(Grindelia hirsutula) seeds, and headed home.

Many thanks to Hilary for the yummy homemade ginger cookies.

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