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A Break in the Rain = Wildflowers!

February 10, 2017


So much rain this winter: 13.61 inches! 205 % of normal for this time of year!

I managed to hit the Irvine Park trails this afternoon, before the next round of stormy weather (it’s raining again now as I write this). To my surprise and delight the poppies had popped on some south-facing slopes near Barham Ridge.

While the sight of mass blooms of Eschscholzia californica is an iconic, beloved sight for Californians, this plant is considered an invasive weed in many parts of Australia where it spreads so aggressively that it chokes out native plant habitat.


This image shows poppies and pesky pink Erodium; imported to the US from the Mediterranean in the 18th century, this ubiquitous invasive is edible, although I have not tried it. 

The trail traffic was Friday-light; the wildflowers were spring-intense (even though it’s only February and many parts of the US are blizzarding this week). Here’s a few (with my best guesses at identification):


Parry’s phacelia (Phacelia parryi)


Common phacelia (Phacelia distans)


California wood-sorrel (Oxalis californica) These few clusters are the only occurrences of these I’ve ever seen in this part of OC. Recent activity to widen the single-track has me worried about their fate.


The wood-sorrel and its neighbor prickly pear on a steep east-facing slope.


No bloom yet, but the distinctive blunt-tipped narrow leaflets lead me to suspect this is a Collar lupine (Lupinus truncatus).


It’s easy to just dismiss all little white flowers as generic “popcorn flowers.” I’ll hazard a guess: Cleveland cat’s-eyes (Cryptantha clevelandii). 


Don’t taste this! Deadly nightshade comes in 19 “flavors” (species) in California, “more than half of which are introduced weeds” (according the indispensable reference Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains).


California wishbone bush (Mirabilis laevis). Mirabilis = wonderful in Latin) Yes, a wonderfully lovely plant.


They’re everywhere! School bells are ringin’ in the wildflower new year! (Dichelostemma capitatum)


Wild cucumber (Marah macrocarpus). Another name is “man-root” because the vine sprouts out of a giant underground tuber-potato.


It’s not spring until the wild morning glories trumpet forth. Ta-da!


Lemonadeberry in bloom means there will be tart fruit to taste in a few months . . . like sour lemon candy. The leaves are super-astringent; I read somewhere that earlier People would chew the leaves to stimulate saliva when they were out on long treks without drinking water. 


Not in bloom yet, but this coastal cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia prolifera) is just as fat and sassy and happy with all the rain as all its  chaparral neighbors. 


Waxing wonderful! Wow! This laurel sumac’s new growth is just as stunning as the most vivid wildflower.


One final view over the poppy field; below is the rain-flooded willow wilds behind Villa Park Dam. 


Time to get that camera timer ticking . . . it’s hard to capture how giggly I am to be RUNNING again after almost four months of lower-right-fibula stress-fracture recovery. I am grateful for God’s good gifts of rocks and flowers and steep trails on this, the third anniversary of my dad’s death. 

Happy wild-and-flowery trails!




3 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob G> permalink
    February 13, 2017 6:03 am

    Thea…beautiful colors! A treat for bare feet ! My respects for your Dad’s loss. Lost my father last July. You just DON”T replace these Greatest Generation people; equal parts love, generosity, science, and short temper! They knew which end was up! He had a great life, and piece by piece, he handed me a great life!
    best regards, Rob G.

    • February 13, 2017 6:22 am

      Kind and thoughtful words to get Monday going . . . thank you, Rob.

  2. February 10, 2017 8:50 pm

    That’s great to see so many flowering plants thanks to the rain! The poppies are in full force.

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