Sunday, March 11, 2012

habitat ~ 03/11/12 ~ Pogonip

March 11, 2012

I love the name Pogonip. I recall a childhood memory of laughing with my aunt as she jumped on a pogo stick, so it's a fond word association. In Shoshone it means "ice fog" or "cloud". Apparently, the word is unique enough that the City of Santa Cruz has no need to add "City Park" or other clarification to the official name of this open space.

This is the first time Andy and I have purposely hiked here. We were up in the area anyways to set up one of our extra computers for a friend's 4 kids to use for homework - hey, it's better than letting it collect dust in the garage or dumping it at the e-recycling. Once, the same friend and I utilized an entrance point to get to the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum while Andy ran trails over to Wilder Ranch and back. Another time, I briefly hiked parts of the southern trails from Harvey West Park. And, it's been so long since we've been to the adjacent Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park that I'm not sure if we even have pictures from our excursions.

Besides being tucked among other places we've visited, Pogonip really impressed us with its eclectic mix of trees for such a small, non-manicured city park. In addition to redwoods and a variety of oaks, there are surprises like huge cottonwoods, douglas-firs, madrones, eucalyptus, and palm trees (yes, palm trees in the middle of the woods!). Before the City of Santa Cruz acquired the land, it had been used as an exclusive social club, WWII rehab center, women's polo fields, golf course, and, of course, redwood logging. The clubhouse, the pool, and surrounding area are in total disrepair. It's sad to see natural areas and historical places used, abused, and neglected.

I have to say I'm glad I didn't look into Pogonip before going. We found a couple signs that said parts were closed due to "public nuisance", which I have since learned is because of the prolific drug trade on this land. I also found out there's a mountain lion that's been reported several times in the past few months at Pogonip. Truth be told, I'm more afraid of the mountain lion than anyone cracked up on heroin. After my visit to Pogonip, I'm left pondering how nature gradually heals itself compared to us humans with all our junk and wacky ways.

oak ~ 03/11/12 ~ Pogonip

unidentified oak
Quercus sp.

I need help (heh, probably in more ways than one) for this ID. Unfortunately, since this is a city park in Santa Cruz and it's beyond the range of my usual double-check option of our local CNPS Montery Chapter plant lists, I resorted to Calflora's What Grows Here. There are three species recorded for this area: coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), Santa Cruz island oak/Shreve oak (Quercus parvula), and interior live oak (Quercus wislizeni). We have a coast live oak tree at the end of our driveway, and I feel I'm now very familiar with this tree; it has new fresh green spring growth but nothing like the pretty pink flower-like sprouts as shown above. If anyone can help ID this oak tree for me, I'd be very appreciative.

Pacific trillium ~ 03/11/12 ~ Pogonip

Pacific trillium / western wake-robin
Trillium ovatum
Melanthiaceae (formerly Liliaceae)

It seems that I've seen quite a number of trilliums highlighted in blog posts recently. Here in CA, common ones are Pacific trilliums and giant trilliums, as shown on John Wall's and Way Points. The rare snow trillium has made a show in Indiana and Ohio, as pictured on Get Your Botany On! and ohio birds and biodiversity. I find it interesting that patterns like this become apparent while perusing blogs, just like the past few months I've seen more snowy owl posts than ever before. Has this unusual winter played a role in these sightings, or is it mere coincidence?

From our own experience at Pogonip, we were delighted to find so many Pacific trilliums and two lone giant trilliums. I wish I had a better picture to show how prolific the Pacific trilliums were under the redwoods. In one section of the trail, they spread out as far as the eye could see. As I was looking up information on the Pacific trillium, I discovered from Jepson that the flowers start out white and age to pink. I've heard other flowers change colors once they're pollinated. Nature continually amazes me. For a well-researched blog post, check out Curbstone Valley Farm.