Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘California

Pickleweed

with 22 comments

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Click to enlarge.

In the wetlands of California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline on November 2nd of last year I came across the strange-looking (to me) plant shown here. I had no idea what it was, but when we were walking back to the car I noticed a woman coming toward us carrying a bunch of plastic buckets. On impulse I asked: “Are you a native plant person?” She said she wasn’t specifically, but it turned out she was indeed a biologist and knew a fair amount about the native species there. She identified my mystery plant as pickleweed. She added that its genus had changed and she couldn’t remember which of the two names that came into her mind is the current one. I looked it up later and found that the latest name is Sarcocornia pacifica (changed from Salicornia). I also learned that other common names for the plant are sea asparagus; perennial saltwort; American glasswort; and Pacific samphire, along with a folk-etymologized version of that, Pacific swampfire.

If pickleweed seems a strange name, I found the explanation for it in an article on a website from British Columbia: “Sea asparagus is edible and is sold in some stores, particularly seafood, local food, or specialty stores. It is picked wild and often pickled. It has a salty taste, and can be cooked in a variety of ways.” The Watershed Nursery website adds: “Pickleweed is a halophytic (tolerant of salty conditions)…. Salicornia species are being tested as a biofuel crop as it is composed of 32% oil and being a halophyte can be irrigated with salt water.”

Also strange is the disjoint distribution of this plant, which includes Long Island, where I grew up on the other side of the country from California.

Below is a closeup showing why this plant has traditionally been put in the goosefoot family (botanists now classify it as a member of the amaranth family).

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Click to enlarge a bunch.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2017 at 4:45 AM

So why is it called marsh gumplant?

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Grindelia stricta var. angustifolia is called marsh gumplant because it grows in marshes and is gummy (I’d have said gooey). You can see that second feature in this closeup that I took, like the previous photograph, in the wetlands of California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline on November 2nd of last year.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 3, 2017 at 5:04 AM

Again I got the genus right

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While walking in the wetlands of California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline on November 2nd of last year I saw many stands of a wildflower I assumed had to be in the genus Grindelia, whose members are generally known as gumweed. This one turned out to be Grindelia stricta var. angustifolia, called marsh gumplant.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 1, 2017 at 4:49 AM

Coyote bush with fluff flying

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While walking a path through the wetlands of California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline on November 2nd of last year I saw this bush and even from a distance I figured I was looking at some sort of Baccharis. It turned out to be Baccharis pilularis, known as coyote bush, chaparral broom, and bush baccharis.

I’ve never neglected Austin’s species of this genus, Baccharis neglecta, as you can confirm by scrolling down the posts at this link.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 26, 2017 at 4:41 AM

Corrugated redwood tree

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Look at this strangely corrugated trunk of a California redwood tree (Sequoia sempervirens) that I saw on October 31 of last year in Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 23, 2017 at 5:12 AM

Snowy egret

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At California’s Martinez Regional Shoreline last November 2nd I got low and slowly worked my way closer and closer to the bird shown here. Later, profiting from a site that tells how to distinguish white herons, I identified my subject as a snowy egret, Egretta thula.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 5, 2017 at 5:00 AM

Skull rock again

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For some unknown reason the e-mail version of the Skull Rock post didn’t go out this morning, so I resent the post and succeeded the second time.

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A popular formation at Joshua Tree National Park is Skull Rock. This photograph from November 5th, 2016, shows you the pareidolic reason the boulder is called what it is.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 4, 2017 at 6:03 AM

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