Thursday, May 1, 2014

changing forget-me-not ~ 05/01/14 ~ Fort Ord


Gush.  This is my favorite new flower.  I don't care that it's non-native.  I love the three colors of blooms on one flower stalk.  The yellow petals turn blue and other parts turn red as they age.  I don't know how they explain the white.  The freshest bloom?  It's really tiny and so sweet.  It looks like it belongs on something girly, like old-fashioned stationery.

fire poppy ~ 05/01/14 ~ Fort Ord

Papaver californicum

As we were driving out of Fort Ord, I spotted a few tall orange blooms in the fire break.  I mentioned to David Styer that I thought I saw some wind poppies, particularly since they were going at Pinnacles 2 days ago.  David has been monitoring blooms at Fort Ord on a near daily basis since 1996, and he's never recorded wind poppies before.  So, of course, we had to stop. Nope.  They're obviously fire poppies, which I was happy to finally see up close.  David was surprised to see them here.  He speculated that Fort Ord's fire break management practices created conditions that mimicked a fire.  I dunno if those rules about fire always hold true, because I have some young Monterey pines blocking my view of the Bay and there hasn't been a fire here in a very long time, if ever.  I'm guessing the crazy hot weather we're having caused these poppies to pop.

There's also some mistaken identity online, switching the fire and wind poppies.  They're really quite easy to tell apart up close.  Note the light color at the base of the fire poppy petals, compared to the dark base of the wind poppy petals.  Filaments (stringy stuff) match the petal base color in each flower, and both have yellow anthers (pollen ends).  Here are Jepson eFlora descriptions of P. californicum (fire poppy) and P. heterophyllum (wind poppy) for those who want to read up.  Oh, and those leaves close to the ground belong to poison-oak.

Speaking of fires...  last October there was a "controlled" burned for munitions removal on Army Lands as part of the transfer to existing BLM Lands/National Monument (I'm still not used to the new designation).  I say "controlled" because it did get out of control, but that's another story. Eh-hem.  Once again, BRAC is offering behind-the-scenes walking tours of the burned area on Saturday, May 17, 2014 (click the link to register).  David and his wife Jane will lead the guided nature walks with BRAC Cleanup staff.  Andy and I have gone the past 3 years.  I didn't blog about it last year, even though I took copious notes and photos.  There could be a ton of fire poppies, since the burn was just last year... or not.  The severe drought has thrown a big question mark into the spring wildflower predictions.  However, many plants are surprising us with their extremely quick vigor. Who knows what'll happen in 16 days' time?

ps 05/03/14 - David got a preview of the closed area for the tour and fire poppies are blooming.  Yay!