Sunday, March 29, 2009

magnolia tree in Memory Garden

I love this tree and visit it every spring! It's located in the Memory Garden behind the Pacific House.

ps 09/09/09 - I've heard rumors (and read paper publishings) that the Pacific House was to be closed September 1, 2009 due to the state budget cuts. However, it remained open over the holiday weekend, as witnessed September 6th. I hope it does stay running, as this courtyard garden is my favorite!

pss 04/11/10 - As far as we know this garden is still opened daily and is still being used for weddings, but the little museum in the Pacific House is closed. Sad.

queen's tears
Billbergia nutans

The navy striping on the bracts is spectacular! This was at the Larkin House Garden in Monterey. The flower was also at the Carmel Valley Garden show on May 17, 2009, but my pic didn't read the details of the ID card. Phooey!

And, yes, I have a genetically short pinky finger. If I remember correctly, it's on X-some 16 or something like that.

ps 10/03/10 - I originally posted this as "Have no clue!" Thanks to gardentropics post, I finally obtained an ID for this plant. I would have never guessed it is a bromeliad.

wisteria ~ 03/29/09 ~ Cooper Molera Garden

Wisteria sp.

I absolutely love wisteria! This was at the Cooper Molera Garden. I hope to someday have wisteria in a garden of my own.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

oil beetle ~ 03/28/09 ~ Fort Ord

oil beetle
Meloe sp.

This is the largest beetle I have ever seen alive outside of a museum or zoo! I assumed it's a staphylinid due to its short elytra, but Jerry Powell claims devil's coach horses are the largest rove beetle in CA at 32 mm... and this bugger was easily 50 mm. I'm starting to wonder if it might not be a Carabidae; there are several varieties of ground beetles at Fort Ord.

ps 04/21/10 - I originally posted this as an unknown "NOT devil's coach horse beetle." With inordinate gratitude to knowledgeable nature bloggers (Backyard and Beyond, MObugs, and especially Fall to Climb - check them out!!!), I finally discovered the true identity of this male oil beetle over a year after seeing it. Most blister beetles have a very different look, but I should have paid attention to the narrow pronotum as an identifying characteristic of the family. As much as I wish I had taken a picture that indicated its impressive size, I am very glad I didn't handle it!

pss 05/09/10 - I take back the ground beetle comment at Fort Ord. They're darkling beetles in the family Tenebrionidae.

pss 04/16/11 - For an even greater TGIQ oil beetle post check out Fall to Climb.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

habitat ~ 03/14/09 ~ Fort Ord - BLM Creekside

Fort Ord Public Lands - Creekside entrance
March 14, 2009

This hike was almost at the peak, bright green of spring that I so love. In the distance of the first photo, there's Toro County Park (sunlit green) and Mt. Toro (what looks like a shaded hill in the background, but is actually quite a ways away).

witch's butter ~ 03/14/09 ~ Fort Ord

witch's butter parasitizing false turkey tail with fiesta flower leaves
Tremella aurantia parasitizing Stereum hirsutum
for more information click here and here
Boraginaceae (formerly Hydrophyllaceae)

I'm almost certain the beautiful orange is witch's butter. The bracket fungi looks a little confusing to ID to species. And I believe those are fiesta flower leaves gracing the picture.

ps 12/30/10 - I had this originally identified as another witch's butter Tremella mesenterica. I've made the corrections to the ID below the picture above. This was my original blog profile pic.

pss 02/15/11 - Thanks to DDD, across the pond they call T. mesenterica yellow brain fungus!
Indian warrior
Pedicularis densiflora
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

I saw a ton of these under the manzanitas at Fort Ord. It's related to the paintbrushes.
Pacific poison-oak
Toxicodendron diversilobum

Poison-oak really is quite showy and beautiful. I'd wear shorts and water sandals more often for my hikes if it wasn't so ubiquitous. Thank goodness I'm not familiar with the "fun" of the allergic rash. I've skinny-dipped in poison ivy-infested areas and trudged chest-deep in sumac-infested bog waters and have never gotten a rash. Knock on wood!!!
footsteps of spring
Sanicula arctopoides

Aptly named! Neon yellow-green splotches in the bright-green grasses of spring alongside many trails. Interestingly, they're in the same family as carrots, anise, and hemlock.

By the time we went hiking out at Fort Ord again (from Inter-Garrison on March 28, not Creekside as shown here), most of the footsteps were fading and withering, replaced by a superficially similar, ground-hugging yellow flower, the coastal sun cup.

ps 01/27/11 - Cool! I can link to the entire month of March 2009 from my blog.
blue-eyed grass
Sisyrinchium bellum

This spring I really tried to pay attention while hiking. I love the detail of this flower!
spring azure
Celastrina ladon
Lepidoptera > Lycaenidae > Polyommatinae

Lack of orange and lack of tails on the hind wings makes me fairly sure about this ID.

white fiesta flower ~ 03/14/09 ~ Fort Ord

white fiesta flower
Pholistoma membranaceum
Boraginaceae (formerly Hydrophyllaceae)

I was confused when trying to ID this flower, because the leaves looked like fiesta flower, but I thought fiesta flowers were bluish. Same genus, different species.
Fremont's star-lily
Toxicoscordion fremontii (formerly Zigadenus fremontii)
Melanthiaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

I'm not positive about this ID to species. It's apparently related to the soap plant.

ps 03/10/11 & edited 07/26/11 - I'm positive about this ID, because the stamens are less than 1/2 the perianth. I've also updated the names and links.

California saxifrage
Saxifraga californica

These are fairly small flowers, but I love the close-up details. I wonder how often I have hiked past these and not noticed.

sky lupine ~ 03/14/09 ~ Fort Ord

sky lupine
Lupinus nanus

The sky lupine was just starting to show up. I think I only saw 2 or 3 lupine plants during my hike. Little did I know at the time that 2009 would be the year of the lupine in the Monterey area.

baby blue eyes ~ 03/19/09 ~ Fort Ord

baby blue eyes & unknown wasp
Nemophila menziesii
Boraginaceae (formerly Hydrophyllaceae)

Love the black spots in this baby blue-eyes; I've seen many without any spots whatsoever. Also, I'm fairly sure the insect is a Hymenoptera and not a Diptera due to the antennae. I'm guessing the white hind tibia may be an identifying trait. Does anyone know this wasp? His name is George, but I don't know which family he belongs (Thanks, Gary Larson!).

Johnny jump up ~ 03/14/09 ~ Fort Ord

Johnny jump up / California golden violet
Viola pedunculata

I found it interesting to see these in the same grassy spots as shooting stars.
coast paintbrush
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

There are several different species of paintbrush in the area and I'm not familiar enough to know which one this is.

CA buttercup ~ 03/14/09 ~ Fort Ord

California buttercup
Ranunculus californicus

I can't tell from this pic whether there was a sheen to the petals. I'm not absolutely positive about this ID since there seems to be so much variation among CA buttercups.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

black-tailed deer
Odocoileus hemionus columbianus

This pic of a pregnant deer was taken from our balcony. I actually don't know the local species of deer that inhabits the local cities, so I'm making a wild guess here. I know they're the gardener's enemy of anyone who desires to have a decent garden in the area. Great lengths, such as temporary high, black, mesh fencing or that liquid fence made from egg-whites, are applied every year. Some people simply follow trial and error and see which plants the deer don't seem to want to eat. Sadly, our deer in town tend to look very undernourished. It makes me laugh a little to see tourists in their big SUVs in our driveway trying to take pics of the deer.

ps 10/28/10 - After much research and asking around, we have the Columbian black-tailed deer here, which is a subspecies of Odocoileus hemionus, aka mule deer, and looks very different than the standard mule deer.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Pacific Grove sunrise from home
March 1, 2009

This is a classic March sunrise.