Thursday, June 9, 2011

habitat ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles National Monument - east

This was the latest in the year that we've visited Pinnacles... and for good reason. We've become total temperature wimps and are quite fond of our usual 50-60°F here in Pacific Grove on the coast. So, when we go some place that gets warmer than 80°F, we melt. It actually hit 87°F at Pinnacles this day, although it could have been much worse at 105°F a couple weeks later. Unfortunately we picked south-facing trails with very little shade for our uphill climb. Phew! The different flowers and animals we saw made it all worth the heat.

ps 12/15/11 - For pictures of Pinnacles in mid-December, check out My Back 40 (Feet).

Bigelow's spike-moss ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

possible Bigelow's spike-moss
possible Selaginella bigelovii

posted 09/08/11 - Well, I'll be! Here's a new plant that totally has been beyond my radar. Calflora (linked in the scientific name above) calls this a mosslike fern, whereas Wikipedia lists it as a fern ally. Quite honestly, I'm still looking into the differences between spike-mosses and true mosses. This species is listed on the Pinnacles CNPS plant list, so it's a real possibility. I got the heads up from sdttds on my Flickr photo. For a nice blog post about Selaginella, check out In the Garden.

CA buckwheat ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

California buckwheat
Eriogonum fasciculatum var. foliolosum

updated 09/10/14 - There are 4 var. of Eriogonum fasciculatum, and only 2 are reported for Pinnacles.  I'm pretty confident now that this is the greener foliolosum and not the fuzzy, grayer polifolium.  The original post is below:

Good golly! This is my best guess for buckwheat. At least I'm starting to familiarize myself with a few of the 268 Eriogonum species/varieties found in California. It's no wonder so many animals feed on buckwheats, including caterpillars of the bernardino dotted blue shown previous to this post. There's also a fun, mysterious arthropod peeking around the flowers in the second pic above.

The following Eriogonum names were taken from the 2005 Pinnacles plant list and the embedded links are for my future reference:

(CalPhotos) --- (Calflora) --- (Jepson)
angle-stemmed buckwheat --- E. angulosum --- chaparral
Coville's buckwheat --- E. covilleanum --- rock & scree
elegant buckwheat --- E. elegans --- riparian
long-stemmed buckwheat --- E. elongatum --- rock & scree
California buckwheat --- E. fasciculatum var. foliolosum --- chaparral
California buckwheat --- E. fasciculatum var. polifolium --- chaparral
graceful buckwheat --- E. gracile var. gracile --- chaparral
Pinnacles buckwheat --- E. nortonii --- rock & scree
nude buckwheat --- E. nudum var. auriculatum --- rock & scree
nude buckwheat --- E. nudum var. indictum --- chaparral
virgate buckwheat --- E. roseum --- rock & scree
rock buckwheat --- E. saxatile --- rock & scree
Wright's buckwheat --- E. wrightii var. subscaposum --- rock & scree

bernardino dotted blue ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

bernardino dotted blue
Euphilotes bernardino
for more information click here and here

This little butterfly was mud-puddling with several others of its kind in a small area where water was seeping from the ground. As I was attempting to get pictures for a clear ID, I wiped my hand across my forehead to collect sweat and reached down for the butterfly to walk onto it. It stayed there for about 10 minutes with its proboscis probing around my finger as I clumsily tried to take pictures with my other hand. The result was a crappy photo of the butterfly and a lovely shot of a rock that looks like Jabba the Hutt.

sticky monkeyflower ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

sticky monkeyflower / bush monkeyflower
Mimulus aurantiacus
Phrymaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

I'm surprised I haven't posted this plant on Nature ID before now. It is one of the most common flowers we see seemingly all year-round on the coast - I'll make a point to verify that it indeed blooms in the winter months. Here is one plant where the common name(s) may be better used than the scientific name. Some place this plant in a different genus, Diplacus. Others include separate species as synonyms, e.g., Diplacus grandiflorus, aka Mimulus bifidus, aka Mimulus aurantiacus. It's really quite confusing. And this doesn't even cover its new family inclusion. It's like keeping track of Hollywood celebrities and their kids who divorce, remarry, and have stage names - names and family relations are constantly changing.

ps 12/24/11 - John Wall recently captured pictures of sticky monkeyflower blooming in December.

acmon blue ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

female acmon blue
Plebejus acmon
for more information click here and here

Look at the green sheen on the abdomen, the tuft of white hair around the thorax, the striped antennae, and the slightly used appearance of the wings, from missing scales to a nip in the hindwing. I wonder why lepidopteran scales wear off so easily. Life never ceases to amaze me with all its details, often too small to notice with the unaided eye or best observed through the course of time. Sigh... I spent much longer on this post than I intended. The reason is there seems to be considerable debate over classifying this butterfly. I read and looked and still cannot tell the difference between acmon blue and lupine blue (Plebejus lupini), if indeed there is a difference since some folks believe they're the same species. For more information about P. lupini, click here and here. Nature knows what it's doing; us humans don't really know. Do we?

coyote mint ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

coyote mint
Monardella villosa

I am not terribly familiar with this plant. I'm fairly sure of the ID, only because I can't find anything else that it could be.

lichen ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

I thought I'd give it a shot to ID a couple of the estimated 300+ species of lichens at Pinnacles. These are my best guesses, and I could be totally off the mark. The only website I've found that has identified lichen pictures from Pinnacles is the California Lichen Society field trip page. I previously posted Pinnacles' lichen on March 4, 2011. Click on the highlighted links above for more information.

elegant clarkia ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

Now, this is what I picture when I think of Clarkia, although it is not the most common shape.

speckled clarkia ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

speckled clarkia
Clarkia cylindrica ssp. cylindrica

This superficially reminds me of some of the Calochortus lilies, particularly the large flowered star tulip that I regularly see at Fort Ord... except this has 4 petals and is wispier.

woolly Indian paintbrush ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

woolly Indian paintbrush
Castilleja foliolosa
Orobanchaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

This is a new paintbrush species for Nature ID. As the name suggests this differs from the regular flavor Indian paintbrush (C. affinis) by having a fine felt covering of hairs and can be more shrub-like. Both species are found at Pinnacles.

acorn woodpecker ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

female acorn woodpecker
Melanerpes formicivorus

We had a good laugh at how a couple birds were using the drinking fountain to get water. This acorn woodpecker chased the smaller songbirds away.

gray pine ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

gray pine
Pinus sabiniana

Gray pine cones are much bigger than the Monterey pine cones which I am more familiar with closer to home. I inadvertently discovered this while driving over a gray pine cone during a previous trip to Pinnacles. The very loud crunch, knock, knock, and scrape sounds let me know the bottom of my car did not easily clear the massive cone.

western dwarf mistletoe ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

western dwarf mistletoe on gray pine
Arceuthobium campylopodum on Pinus sabiniana
Santalaceae (formerly Viscaceae) and Pinaceae

The Pinnacles plant list shows foothill pine dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium occidentale), which appears to have been reclassified into A. campylopodum. I still find it amazing this is a mistletoe, primarily because I think of some of the wider-leaved Phoradendron spp. used for Christmas decorations.

purple western morning glory ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

I've avoided adding morning glories to Nature ID, because I assumed they were non-native and would be difficult to identify. Not entirely so. In fact, most of the 37 sp./ssp. of Calystegia found in CA are native, but they are difficult to ID. I admit to holding unfavorable prejudice towards non-natives. I don't like this attitude of mine, particularly in light of the fact I'm not exactly native to CA, or the USA for that matter. Interesting... and why is it that I prize rare, threatened, or endangered native plants? It's not like I hang out with plant people or any serious biology/ecology folks. I do know I've picked up this attitude regarding plants since I started blogging. Hmm? Anyone care to put in their two cents about plant prejudices?

ps 07/12/11 - As I was looking up additional plants from the Pinnacles area, I noticed there is also non-native field bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) that looks very similar.

pss 08/04/11 - This morning I found this post from The Biology Refugia talking about biological xenophobia. Interesting.

big berry manzanita ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

Arctostaphylos glauca

Don't these look a lot like olives? At last, here's a manzanita that I can identify! Las Pilitas Nursery says, "Partially ripe berries make good manzanita jelly." Hmm...

common deerweed ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

common deerweed / California broom
Acmispon glaber var. glaber (formerly Lotus scoparius var. scoparius)

I've been wondering what this plant is, because I feel like I'm seeing it everywhere I go this summer. I finally got around to looking it up. I'm using the variety name as listed in the Pinnacles plant list.

ps 07/13/11 - For a good blog entry summary on deerweed, see Curbstone Valley Farm.

pss 05/12/13 - I've updated the scientific name to the 2012 Jepson Manual Treatment.

Pacific gopher snake ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

This individual was huge. Later this same day as we were getting dinner ready at our campsite, Andy noticed motion in a tree and something take off. At first it looked like a kite (the toy, not the bird) with a long tail that kept circling around in large sweeping motions. As we kept watching, it became clear that it was a very large bird of some sort with a long snake in its talons, about twice as long as the wingspan of the bird. The bird soared around with the dangling snake, hardly flapping its wings at all, for a good 15 minutes or so. We guessed it was an immature golden eagle based on a "Mantenga sus ojos en el cielo" condor pamphlet the park ranger gave us (she was out of the English version). Does anyone know if this is typical behavior? It reminded me of the coat of arms of Mexico that is used on the national flag.

Parry's larkspur ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

best guess Parry's larkspur
best guess Delphinium parryi ssp. parryi

Since I'm looking at larkspurs anyways, thought I'd post this slightly fuzzy pic of another flavor. Why is it that whenever I want to get a pic of a flower, the wind suddenly picks up? I'm making my best guess on the ID based on the lateness of bloom in June and the narrow leaves. Again with these dark blue Delphiniums, the other possibility is zigzag larkspur (Delphinium patens ssp. patens).

western larkspur ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

This is the first time I've ever seen a wild white-colored Delphinium. The pink undertones are best seen in shadow as opposed to full sun. Absolutely beautiful!

hedgerow hairstreak ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

Satyrium saepium on Ceanothus cuneatus var. cuneatus
for more information click here , here, and here

Often when I'm able to capture photos of butterflies, I get them on perches, mud-puddling, or nectaring. For whatever reason, I rarely get them on their reported host plant as shown above. I love the iridescence of the wings and the orange knobs at the end of the antennae.

foothill penstemon ~ 06/09/11 ~ Pinnacles

foothill penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus var. heterophyllus
Plantaginaceae (formerly Scrophulariaceae)

The detail of this flower with its curved stamens is amazing. It's like a 4 gun salute to the army of bees found at Pinnacles. Interesting to note, the buds are yellow, which I barely captured in the first pic (click on it to see a larger version). While this species is common throughout the state (with 3 subspecies), this is the first time I've noticed this plant.