western brown elfin on ceanothus
As I was trying to get pictures of the unusual-to-me ceanothus, she flew right into focus and sat there. No nectaring, no laying eggs. Guess she wanted her picture taken. So I did.
Now, back to the ceanothus. Grrr. I'm most familiar with the buck brush found at Pinnacles in San Benito Co., and it happens to be the last place I saw a western brown elfin. C. cuneatus is the only sp. on their plant list, which seems odd to me considering Calflora has 82 records of native Ceanothus spp./var. (some are outdated, but still!). At Pinnacles, the flowers are whiter, the leaves are shinier, and the stems are browner... and there's quite a bit of variation as I just noticed. I think lots of people are confused about Ceanothus ID, myself included, and many online pictures are too inconsistent to be helpful.
OK, I'll admit, there's a part of me just wishing this to be a different sp. I did drive over 3 hours, up the hills, suppressing awful memories of childhood car sickness every single time we visited the Sierras (ah, now I remember why I generally avoid the area like the plague). I want to find something different, dang it! I tried to convince myself that this is mountain whitethorn (Ceanothus cordulatus). However, it didn't particularly have any thorns, the bushes were taller than me (Jepson eFlora states C. cordulatus is generally < 1.5m), and the leaves are not 3-ribbed from base. Anyone have a better guess? Big bushes like these were blooming everywhere in open sunny areas. It was really stunning.