Sunday, December 25, 2011

habitat ~ 12/25/11 ~ Jacks Peak County Park

Jacks Peak County Park
December 25, 2011

For the record, I'm not sure if this County Park was officially open on Christmas Day, but we took one of several little-known trails up the hill. It starts off as coast live oak woods then gradually turns into Monterey pine forest as the elevation increases. In a couple spots, freshly fallen trees blocked the old trail. I was impressed with how soft the new trail was around these disturbed areas. It felt very spongy on the feet, as if I were walking underneath redwoods. I've heard this area is called a closed-cone pine forest from a blogger who recently shut down his blog. I wasn't aware of this term before. Despite the lack of fire, it looks like the Monterey pine has no problem reseeding itself. Jacks Peak has one of the few remaining native stands of Monterey pine in the world. We also looked for where the proposed zipline will be placed, which has caused quite a controversy among the prominent older folks in our area. The views are absolutely stunning from the summit of Jacks Peak of both Monterey harbor and "the mouth of the Valley" as us locals refer to it, which is really the east side of Carmel and whose main claim to fame is Clint Eastwood was once mayor. The zipline would be thrilling and perhaps a nice tourist attraction. However, I can't say I'd fork out $100 for the experience, especially since I live here.

wavyleaf soap plant ~ 12/25/11 ~ Jacks Peak

wavyleaf soap plant
Chlorogalum pomeridianum var. pomeridianum
Asparagaceae (formerly Agavaceae, Hyacinthaceae, & Liliaceae)

Edited 01/03/12 - I originally posted this as a sprout of Fremont's star-lily, but thanks to my commenters, I've corrected the ID above. It's been a goal of mine to track the seasonal evidence of both death camas, aka Fremont's star-lily, and soap plant, especially in areas where they literally grow from the same spot of ground like at Jacks Peak. I've made a fuss about how several online sites have them mixed up, and I've admitted I get them confused, too, when they only have green leaves - the flowers are too distinctive to ever get them mixed up. I've now concluded that death camas is an early flowerer compared to 3-4 months later in the season soap plant.

Monterey pine and coast live oak ~ 12/25/11 ~ Jacks Peak

coast live oak
Quercus agrifolia var. agrifolia

This post is for Cindy of Dipper Ranch based on her recent comment. I wish I had better pictures of how the ends look chewed. I noticed before at Jacks Peak that tips of Monterey Pine litter the trail. This is the first time I noticed tips of coast live oak also on the trail. To me they look like they've been chewed off, but I don't really know. We haven't had any wind storms lately, so I don't think that's the reason. It just seems a bit unusual to find tips of trees on the forest floor. Maybe a pruning-happy tree squirrel did this? Anyone have any ideas as to why this happens?