Thursday, May 1, 2014

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!


randomtruth said...

Very nice. I would say the Jepson key character is even easier - heterophyllum has a style, and californicum does not. That is not, of course, to say that California doesn't have style, because that's a given. There is no such thing as "style" w/o CA. ;)

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hey Ken. I like the pun! Boy, you really had to search the Jepson descriptions for that one.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Is the 2012 book that much different than eFlora?

randomtruth said...

Didn't have to dig - it's the first couplet in the binomial keys for Papaver. :)

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thanks for the link and the reminder, Ken. I tend to forget about those key pages, because I've found them frustrating. Besides the presence or absence of a style is not the first thing I notice about these poppies. They're the only 2, tall, bright orange, native poppies found around these parts. Color at the base of the petal is fairly easy to distinguish, even from a little ways away, but not from a moving car on a dusty dirt road.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

ps - Keys to photos of the living will necessarily need to be different from keys based on herbarium specimens. As iNat and its kin gain momentum, I hope other people also recognize the need for photographic keys. If we're going to change the paradigm of collecting from specimens to photos, then let's go all the way.