Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

with 36 comments

Two years ago on this date we spent several hours in the temperate rainforest
of the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve near Guerneville, California.

Intermittent rain accompanied us there. During rainless periods the lace lichen,
Ramalina menziesii, still suggested its own sort of precipitation from the trees.

Even when fresh, bits of lace lichen end up on the forest floor, there to perish.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 27, 2018 at 4:44 AM

36 Responses

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  1. what a beautiful place, i really love the look of the lichen


    October 27, 2018 at 5:50 AM

  2. I love that lichen!


    October 27, 2018 at 6:34 AM

  3. Looks like something straight out of a fairy tale.


    October 27, 2018 at 9:58 AM

  4. Do the temperate rain forests of our Pacific coast have a dry season, too? It just occurred to me that even though Liberia is a tropical rain forest, there is a distinct, months-long dry season. Your photos from areas like this suggest it’s a moisture-laden environment year round.

    The ferns (?) covering the tree trunks in the first photo reminded me that I was going to ask if the Japanese climbing fern has made it to your area. It doesn’t look like it from the USDA map, but it’s certainly a problem here.

    The lichen in the second photo looks like a curtain: perhaps a beaded curtain separating a nondescript shop from a bazaar. The separation is real, but so slight — it feels as though you could push aside the strands and step into a magical world.


    October 27, 2018 at 10:32 AM

    • I did a little searching to answer your first question. At https://www.eartheclipse.com/ecosystem/temperate-rainforest-biome.html I found this: “Temperate rainforests are characterized by mild climates or temperatures. Essentially, these areas do not experience extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures. Temperate rainforests have two different seasons. One season (winter) is quite long and wet, and the other (summer) is short, dry and foggy.”

      When it comes to what’s growing on the tree trunk in the first photograph, I’ve been assuming they’re mosses, but I was a stranger in a strange land there and so could well be mistaken. Whatever they are, they fascinated me.

      Yes, I can see the beaded sort of curtain you suggested for the hanging lichens. As for entering a magical world, all I had to do was drive into the Armstrong Redwoods Reserve and I was there. It’s so unlike anything in Texas.

      This is the first I’ve heard of the Japanese climbing fern, which as you confirmed from the map apparently and fortunately hasn’t made it here, and which I hope never does.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2018 at 4:23 PM

  5. Beautiful place and great photos!

    I’m wondering if the lichen species you captured is a Usnea or Dolichousnea (e.g. Dolichousnea longissima).


    October 27, 2018 at 11:29 AM

    • You could well be right. I’m a better photographer (thanks for appreciating that) than a botanist (which I’m not at all!), so I’m always open to suggestions.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2018 at 4:37 PM

  6. Fern and lichen must make for some fabulous homes for the insect population. The images conjure up the thought of cool temperatures and fresh, earthy scents. I have never seen the Redwoods, only the Sequoias.


    October 27, 2018 at 12:28 PM

    • I just read that a temperate rainforest has the highest biomass of any kind of environment. I assume that includes lots of insects.

      The redwoods are worth seeing, so I’d encourage you to add them to your list. During our week in central California we visited three sites that feature redwoods, and I’d gladly go to others if we return to that area.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2018 at 4:28 PM

  7. Magnificent place and terrific photos


    October 27, 2018 at 5:32 PM

    • As far from you as central California is, traveling there would be well worth it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 27, 2018 at 6:34 PM

      • Next fall, society for melanoma research Congress is in Salt Lake City. If the timing works like this year, the family could then join me for a week’s holiday somewhere in the States. There maybe other opportunities too though next year. Your photography has made me think the same.


        October 28, 2018 at 3:30 AM

        • Two decades ago we flew from Austin to Salt Lake City and used it as a base for visiting Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and four of the five national parks in Utah. There are so many scenic places within a day’s drive of Salt Lake City that I’d suggest a separate trip to California, which is a world of its own.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 28, 2018 at 4:05 AM

  8. My, I love those photos!


    October 27, 2018 at 10:31 PM

    • It’s a great place, different from both your part of the country in Montana and mine in Texas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2018 at 2:57 AM

  9. This is similar to the redwood forests here, just a few miles from the chaparral of the Santa Clara Valley. The average annual rainfall in my former neighborhood was about a foot. It is three times that much here, and is significantly more where you got these pictures.


    October 28, 2018 at 4:28 PM

    • Yes, I can attest to how rainy this area was. It’s another of California’s many micro-climates, and fortunately for me as a visitor and photographer a very scenic place at that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2018 at 7:37 PM

  10. Like another planet altogether. That fuzzy tree trunk, and the lace lichen is amazing.
    And it reminded me — did you ever see that BBC 3-minute documentary, from the ’50’s, about the Italian Spaghetti Harvest in Ticino? they gather the noodles from the trees. It was a big hit, and then the BBC caught flak when people realized it was a spoof, April Fools for 1957, and they were never allowed to run a spoof documentary again. [https://youtu.be/tVo_wkxH9dU]

    Robert Parker

    October 28, 2018 at 10:00 PM

    • Yes, I have seen that British spoof about the spaghetti harvest a couple of times. Good of you to link it to the hanging lichen of the California rainforest, which does indeed seem like an alien planet to someone from New York or Texas.

      I’ve occasionally thought of running an April Fool’s post here but no specific idea for a subject has ever popped into my head.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 29, 2018 at 6:14 AM

  11. This forest looks incredibly lush, Steve. Definitely not a Rocky Mountain forest.


    October 29, 2018 at 9:21 PM

    • Lush it was, and one more place you can eventually visit. A fringe benefit is that it’s close to the Pacific Ocean.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 29, 2018 at 9:58 PM

  12. Wow Steve dripping in green .. it looks marvellous. I bet it had a lovely damp earthy smell


    November 2, 2018 at 3:28 PM

    • Now that you mention it, it’s like preserved parts of New Zealand, with redwoods instead of kauri trees.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2018 at 5:05 PM

  13. ahh, you captured the beauty of the Armstrong park beautifully here, Steve. The lichen and moss are so enchanting, and you were able to bring that forward in your photos. I really liked each photo. The turning leaves of the oak tree and the thick lichen on the trunk…lovely. Then the second photo where it looks like it’s raining lichen, wonderful. My favorite photo is the redwood-needled wet ground with the wisp of lace lichen so bright and angelic. Wonderful series.

    Jet Eliot

    December 15, 2018 at 11:12 AM

    • Thanks again, Jet. It’s hard to take a lot of photographic credit in such a scenic place; to some extent, all I had to do was aim, because all around me were wonderful views. The biggest challenge proved to be finding a lull in the rain so I could take pictures without getting my camera wet. For some photographs, Eve held one umbrella over her head and another over mine.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 15, 2018 at 11:25 AM

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