Sunday, March 4, 2012

habitat ~ 03/04/12 ~ SFB Morse Botanical Reserve

SFB Morse Botanical Reserve
March 4, 2012

Pardon if some of this information sounds familiar, but I'm stealing partial descriptions from an earlier post on the federally threatened Gowen cypress...

I've hiked this part of exclusive Pebble Beach more often than I've featured on Nature ID. It's too bad, because this is apparently quite a place of botanical interest due to the numerous rare plants found along this ravine. It doesn't look like the usual muddy water path since it's so dry right now.

After almost 3 years of creating this blog, I'm still amazed how new information is continually presented on the internet and how those tidbits filter through to my brain differently each time I look up IDs. Considering I'm mostly self-taught based on my handful of field guides and park pamphlets (er, now huge piles of books and papers on top of a cabinet next to my home computer), and what I can quickly find on the internet, I casually meander through reported information, not too dissimilar to how I prefer to hike without a map.

So, I was very surprised to find an online PDF about how SFB Morse Botanical Reserve was created to protect the "endangered" Gowen cypress. First of all, I've called this spot Del Monte Forest for the sake of Nature ID, and I wasn't even aware this is a special botanical reserve. Andy and I have called it "poetry rock" for the longest time. From the PDF, I discovered there's another native species of cypress around here, just as I had no idea that there's another pine in addition to the Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) - the Bishop pine (Pinus muricata). Who knew? Both Monterey cypress and Monterey pine are, obviously given their common names, very unique to the local area, each with only 2-4 very specific locations of reported native populations in the world.

I may have to rethink my location labels. For a comparison of a similar photograph nearby under more typical weather conditions, check out my photo from Huckleberry Hill.

CA huckleberry ~ 03/04/12 ~ SFB Morse Botanical Reserve

California huckleberry
Vaccinium ovatum

I almost gave up on being able to ID this plant and was about to post it as a can you ID? It really had me stumped. Based on the bell-shaped flowers, I figured it must belong to the heath family. The leaves are serrated and shiny, so I didn't think it could be a manzanita. Then I looked at all 176 records in Calflora for Ericaceae. Just my luck, its scientific name starts with a 'v'. Sigh. When we were hiking Huckleberry Hill that last 2 years, I never did get around to looking up what a huckleberry plant actually looks like. Well, now I know.

acacias ~ 03/04/12 ~ SFB Morse Botanical Reserve

prickly Moses / star acacia
Acacia verticillata

prickly Moses (left shrub) and golden wattle (right tree)

everblooming acacia
Acacia retinodes

Wow, I didn't know there was such a variety of acacias. Usually when I see the prolific bright yellow blooms, I'm speeding down a highway, like Hwy 1 from Watsonville to Santa Cruz and Hwy 68 from Monterey to Salinas. During this hike, I noticed the leaves and blooms were very different shapes, so I took pictures. All these trees and shrubs featured here are native to Australia.

When I saw my doctor last month for a check-up, he blamed the acacia trees for my runny nose. I'm not sure that's entirely correct, since right along the coast where we spend most of our time, there are no acacias that we've seen. The nearest one is at the Pacific Grove Golf Course a mile away. I'm guessing my and Andy's late January to early March allergies are due to the Monterey pine.

Gowen cypress ~ 03/04/12 ~ SFB Morse Botanical Reserve

yellow male pollen cones with brown female seed cones

female seed cones

Gowen cypress
Hesperocyparis goveniana (formerly Cupressus goveniana ssp. goveniana)
CNPS 8th Edition Inventory

When I first took pictures of these short-statured trees I thought, "Oh good, I can finally get close-up shots of a Monterey cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa) for my blog, since they're usually too tall or perched on a cliff to take decent detailed pictures." Wrong? Maybe, maybe not? Gowen cypress is my best guess based on the CNPS plant list for SFB Morse Botanical Reserve, which does not include Monterey cypress. However, the female seed cones seemed bigger than described in Jepson compared to the larger Monterey cypress seed cones, but I'm aware visual perception can often be deceptive. I really should carry a ruler with me when I go hiking, since memory and photographs are proving to not be enough to distinguish species. I checked our neighbors' cypress trees, and there's quite a bit of variation outside of the reported dimensions. I guess theirs could be garden hybrids though. Erg. Come to find out the Gowen cypress is a federally threatened species. For more information about cypresses, check out Wayne's Word and Point Lobos Association.

pink flowering currant ~ 03/04/12 ~ SFB Morse Botanical Reserve

pink flowering currant
Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum

I'm fairly sure of this ID, because the leaves were not very hairy compared to the other possibility of chaparral current (Ribes malvaceum), which is also on the CNPS plant list and reported on Calflora for this location. If anyone can provide helpful hints on how best to distinguish between these two species, I'd greatly appreciate it.

ps 03/14/12 - I have the feeling that other bloggers gain something from my ramblings... of course, it could simply be the matter of timing. For another pink flowering currant blog feature, check out Town Mouse and Country Mouse.