Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘California

November 6, 2016, in the desert of southern California

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Dunes along Interstate 8: one take at abstraction

Dunes along Interstate 8: a more minimalist take at abstraction

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 6, 2018 at 4:37 AM

Joshua Tree National Park

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We spent a good part of November 5th two years ago at Joshua Tree National Park in the desert of southern California. The first picture shows you a picturesque wall of boulders there. The reddish-brown growths occupying the bare branches in the foreground are desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum.

Here’s a closer look at some boulders:

Smaller details also caught my attention:

Oh yeah, we did see some Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park:

By the time we drove out the southern entrance of the park, the sun had already set.
Even so, I stopped to photograph a creosote bush, Larrea tridentata:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 5, 2018 at 4:38 AM

Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve

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Two years ago today we stopped along the Pacific Ocean in California at the Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. The first photograph shows you waves breaking toward the shore, moving white mimics of the dark hills fixed beyond them. The second picture show how an occasional wave made it over a rise on the beach and into a shallow depression, there to creep along with a frothy yellow fringe.

Walking away from the surf, I sought out patterns in the dunes and clouds:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 4, 2018 at 4:27 AM

American crow

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Two years ago today on our way down the California coast we stopped at the Marina State Beach and Dunes Preserve. Where the parking lot meets the beach I photographed this obliging American crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos (thanks to Shannon for the identification). Beyond the crow you can barely make out the Pacific surf, which will come into focus next time.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 3, 2018 at 4:45 AM

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Mount Diablo State Park

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Two years ago today we drove up, up, up to the top of California’s Mount Diablo. On the way we passed these picturesque boulders, which you’re free to imagine a Neolithic people had put in place:

We also passed a hillside covered with plants that reminded me of the sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) I’d seen so much of in New Mexico and Arizona. I wonder if this was Artemisia californica:

In contrast to all that dryness, compare what I thought was a happily fruiting madrone tree, Arbutus menziesii, but which Tony Tomeo says is actually “a toyon, Heteromeles arbutifolia. It used to be known more commonly as California Holly, and is what Hollywoodland, which is now Hollywood, is named for. It is very susceptible to fireblight.”

And here was one of the scenic views looking out from Mount Diablo:

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 2, 2018 at 4:33 AM

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

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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

Pickleweed

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pacific-swampfire-colony-9059

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).

pacific-swampfire-plant-detail-9055

Click to enlarge a bunch.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

March 6, 2017 at 4:45 AM

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