Monday, July 19, 2010

wet, drippy fog

Huckleberry Hill
July 19, 2010

Sometimes my camera simply does its own thing. Yes, this is a color photograph and has not been altered in any way. I was trying to get a habitat shot of the Monterey pines on Huckleberry Hill here in town. The fog was so thick and heavy up there that it sounded like it was raining.

Yadon's piperia ~ 07/19/10 ~ Huckleberry Hill

This is a federally endangered species. We visited Huckleberry Hill June 2, 2010 and the only evidence of this orchid at the time were numerous flags and signs. I don't know what the leaves look like, but I got down on my hands and knees and searched all around several flags for anything green. Really, the only things growing in this 30 yard stretch of path were rattlesnake grass (Briza maxima), an unidentified single-stem legume, bushes I believe are Eastwood's manzanita (Arctostaphylos glandulosa), and Monterey pine (Pinus radiata). Thanks to Native Orchids flickr post of another Piperia, I suspected Yadon's might be blooming now and went on an orchid hunt instead of my usual early morning walk.

Bingo! It's not a very big plant, maybe 8-14" tall and would be very easy to overlook. My photos look nothing like a particular photo used on both Wikipedia and CalPhotos.

It was interesting to note that more than half the flags seemed to have blooming orchids nearby and a smaller number of blooms had no flag at all. I also found a couple orchids eaten down to the stems or pulled up from the roots.

I rarely go out looking for something this specific, but I'm glad I did. Vern Yadon (yes, the same for whom this orchid is named) states there are 14 orchid species, with 7 being Piperia, in Monterey County.

ps 08/26/11 - Ha! Looks like the picture used for both Wikipedia and CalPhotos was incorrectly identified. Phew! No wonder I was so confused when first looking at this orchid. I've already contacted the owner of the picture to see if he can get it placed properly online.

pss 12/30/13 - The California Department of Transportation has requested permission to use my first photo above on a vista viewpoint interpretive sign.  Cool!