Monday, May 28, 2012

habitat ~ 05/28/12 ~ Fort Ord National Monument

May 28, 2012

I've been going out to Fort Ord several times this month of May with various groups and guides. I hope to post more pictures from other outings, so keep an eye on the newest (backdated) entry section above if you don't subscribe to my blog.

This particular outing on Memorial Day was with Dr. David Styer, the 9+ year volunteer who has kept an impressive plant list and has an intimate knowledge of Fort Ord. He goes out every single day and walks a small section and records every blooming plant he sees. I first remember meeting him and his wife Jane on April 1 of this year when Andy and I happened to be out hiking. Apparently, they were both out on the same Army Lands tour that we took last year, but I don't remember particularly meeting them.

The first and last photos above are different views of Mudhen Lake. I questioned David about the difference between lakes and ponds. We talked about the varying temperature differences bottom to top for what qualifies as a lake or a pond. Considering the border plants, I personally view this water feature as a pond. He says a couple years ago this lake/pond dried up completely like a vernal pool. Go figure. For a prettier picture of Mudhen Lake when it had more water, take a look at the 4th  photo from the local BLM office site.

Mudhen Lake is significant for Dr. Styer and by extension Fort Ord National Monument. When I first met David, he told me how he "inherited" the original plant list from Charles "Chuck" Haugen. It was during a volunteer outing pulling invasive weeds when Chuck was stung several times by yellowjackets. He went into anaphylactic shock and died here at Mudhen Lake. David clearly remembers that day, because he was also pulling weeds and knew Chuck well. There is an interpretive sign in memoriam Chuck and his service, which I just posted. I wonder if Chuck was the last to die in service at Fort Ord. It was a good reminder of the more general meaning of Memorial Day.

tall sock-destroyer ~ 05/28/12 ~ Fort Ord


I'm loving the new common name given to this plant by Jepson eFlora. It's very apropos. To see a decent picture of why it could be called a sock-destroyer, check out this photo from CalPhotos.

After looking at numerous online photos of various hedge parsleys, I'm deciding against what David Styer suggested, even though he likely knows the plants of Fort Ord better than anyone else. He thought these were either knotted hedge parsley, aka short sock-destroyer (Torilis nodosa) or CA hedge parsley, aka false carrot (Yabea microcarpa). I compared online pictures with Jepson eFlora descriptions and decided on the tall sock-destroyer ID, because all the flowers and seeds we found here were at the terminal ends of stems (not along the stems like with T. nodosa) and with rays almost the same length (not unequal like with native Y. microcarpa). Since I needed a visual to decipher carrot family part names (like peduncle, ray, and pedicel), I found a great labeled photo of a carrot family member from UBC Biology 324 Blog.

Obviously, hedge parsleys are not the only plants with seeds that stick to fabrics like Velcro. I'm sure their real purpose is to stick to furry animals with equally annoying results to the carrier such that the seeds will be picked at repeatedly until they drop at a new location. David pointed out the similarly looking and closely related bur chervil (Anthriscus caucalis
) and how its seeds have a little pointy end.

creeping snowberry ~ 05/28/12 ~ Fort Ord

creeping snowberry / Southern California snowberry
Symphoricarpos mollis (formerly S. hesperius)

David Styer said he's never seen these bloom so profusely before. I believe he picked trail 49, because he thought it'd be interesting for me to see the variety of plants he found during his previous day's walk along this trail. Had he not named these pretty pink flowers for me, I would have had a difficult time IDing them. I'm still not sure if I could tell the difference between this sp. and the common snowberry (S. albus var. laevigatus). I had expected the creeping snowberry to be, well, more creeping along the ground. They were fairly short, though, maybe 18-24" tall at the most. I now wonder if my ID for the common snowberry at Garland Ranch back in November is correct. Depending on which name is accepted, various sites have different distribution information, like the USDA Plants Profile for S. mollis vs. its profile for S. hesperius.

hairy pink ~ 05/28/12 ~ Fort Ord

petrorhagia / hairy pink
Petrorhagia dubia

This flower has many common names. It's also known as windmill pink, which I think gets people confused since it's also known as wilding pink. For folks with hearing impairments like me, that could easily sound like windmill pink. Both Jane and David Styer pointed out the very large ovary on this flower from two different trips with each as my field guide. I think this must be important, because the MBC CNPS lists from 2010 matches David's list. However, it got changed back to childing pink (Petrorhagia prolifera) for the 2012 list. Which is correct? Or are both spp. growing in the same areas? It's unfortunate that people have taken up to calling this pink grass, which is also another common name for the 3 spp. of Petrorhagia in CA, all non-natives originating from the Mediterranean region.