Saturday, May 17, 2014

diffuse spineflower ~ 05/17/14 ~ Fort Ord


These short and spreading white flowers tickled my fancy.  I wish I had better pics a couple steps back, but with a large tour group that kept moving at quick clip (thanks to speedy Jane Styer) I only had time for a couple quick pics.  Too bad it was also blustery windy (read: blurry photos).  I'd like to note that spineflowers belong to the buckwheat family, an extremely popular food source for several local butterflies.  I double-checked this ID with David Styer who gave me his 2014 updated Fort Ord plant list, which is different than the online 2012 CNPS list.  I hear from his wife Jane that he's recently described a new spineflower sp.  Very cool.  Out of the 51 Chorizanthe spp./var. listed on Calflora and in addition to the diffuse spineflower shown above, here are the other spineflowers of record for Fort Ord (with my common name updates taken from Jepson eFlora):

(CalPhotos) --- (Calflora) --- (Jepson) --- (CNPS status)
narrow-leaf spineflower --- C. angustifolia --- uncommon, sand --- may be new sp.*
Douglas' spineflower --- C. douglasii --- sand or gravel --- 4.3
Monterey spineflower --- C. pungens var. pungens --- sand --- 1B.2
robust spineflower --- C. robusta var. robusta --- sand or gravel --- 1B.1 --- not on David's list**

* With David's permission, this is what he said, "Also, what we had called C. angustifolia, turns out not to be that, but a species new to science that will probably be called C. minutiflora. It has smaller flowers than any other Chorizanthe."  He goes on to say, "You can mention it, but you should note that the new name is not yet official."

** Also, David said, "I would, however, remove C. robusta from the list. Randy Morgan says he added some years ago (perhaps when he was working for Jones & Stokes), but learned later, when he saw the real robusta, that what he had seen at Ft Ord was not robusta. That is how it got on the Ft Ord list, and why I removed it from the list."

I also made a spineflower list o' links for Pinnacles National Park with Douglas' being the only spineflower found at both locations.

northern Pacific rattlesnake ~ 05/17/14 ~ Fort Ord

(ssp. of western rattlesnake)

Rattlesnake or rattle snake?  Ugh.  In any case, you'll notice the max, fuzzy zoom on this baby.  Lyle, the Army Lands munitions safety officer, also served as the snake safety officer and kept all of us a respectable distance away.  This is probably only the third rattlesnake I've ever seen here in CA.  The other two sightings have been tucked in among rocks at Pinnacles at the east entrance to the Balconies Cave and the switchbacks along the Juniper Canyon Trail.  I sometimes forget we have these poisonous snakes, because for me their sighting is rare.  Gary Nafis has created quite a montage of rattlesnake warning signs.  Note the wide head and 3-segmented rattle.  Can you tell how old a rattlesnake is by the number of rattle segments?  This one was small, took up an area probably smaller than a salad plate.