Quite a few reasons why I started this blog oh so many eons ago. I was driving poor Lanny insane with my monthly “help me figure out this plant” pleas. Now I’ve got all seven of you to help me when I’m stumped! (More on Friday’s mystery plant a little later).
Also had zillions of plant pics, and I thought it would be fun to see what other people’s photos were like, OK that one hasn’t quite worked out yet.
Last but certainly not least I wanted to have some sort of a database, where if you the loyal and intrepid reader wanted to find when and where a certain flower was blooming you only had one place to go. Well that idea is a little more than the free version of WordPress can handle, but I’m happy to share my knowledge of the whereabouts of the rarer blooms in our area. Some of these can be found more easily outside of Ojai, but I’m sticking with a 10 mile radius to qualify our “rare” tag. The locations given are approximate, sorry I know I should bring out my GPS once in a while. If you are lucky enough to stumble across any of these, please don’t pick them, let everyone enjoy.
Might as well start with the “famous” rare local, the Ojai Fritillary. It is listed as “critically imperiled” and is not easy to spot. Barely a foot tall, the blooms don’t last long and as you can see they do a remarkable camouflage. I’ve spotted these up the Gridley trail, about 2 miles up, left side among the Southern Tauschia, another bloom I haven’t seen in too many other spots:
In the carrot family, the very shiny deep green toothed leaves are easy to spot. So when you see these, start looking for the Fritillary, there might be a few left, I haven’t been up Gridley in a few weeks. The CNPS database claims the Ojai Fritillary can be found in other spots, I have yet to confirm personally.
Sticking with the lily family, as long as you are hiking up Gridley keep an eye out for this stunning specimen:
Mariposa lilies are popping up all over the place, but the yellow version I have only seen a few times. On Gridley as I mentioned, I have also seen them up Horn Canyon trail on the way to the Pines camp.
If you are walking through Murietta you might see the tall stem and whorled leaves of the Humboldt lily, I can never seem to catch it in full bloom, June would be my best guess:
Wrapping up the lily family, keep your orbs peeled for these ghostly little gals in the deep shade of Wills Canyon on the Ventura River Preserve:
I learned this as the “fairy lantern”, usually early spring, I have not spotted any this year.
Enough lilies. They are pretty and delicate and rare, but my all time favorite is still the Wooly Blues, unruly loud and brash.
A member of the mint family, with the most enticing scent of all of our chaparral, feel free to run your hand up a stem. There are lonely specimens here and there, a few up Gridley, a patch on Laguna Ridge, Murietta where it meets the upper fire road. My bonanza spot is a 300 yard stretch along the lonely upper paths of the Oso Ridge trail on the Ventura River Preserve. A good hour uphill hike to get there.. but literally hundreds of wooly blues piled on top of each other. Might as well also mention it’s stinky funky little cousin:
Same genus, this one foot wonder grows along the meadow trail that connects Wills canyon to Rice canyon, blooming in late summer. It has a, “smells so bad it smells good” sort of scent.
I was stunned to see this one already blooming on a hot exposed hillside above Thacher:
The blue version is pretty common, but the scarlet is much more upright, almost 5 feet tall sometimes and the blooms are hard to miss. Until last week’s sighting I had only spotted these in the rough gravel right before you hit the watering trough and campsite on Gridley, and one lonely specimen hanging off the rock wall just as you start the Cozy Dell trail. Usually blooming mid summer.
As you head up Cozy Dell, keep your eyes out while you switchback up the first 3/4 of a mile and you might spot this lush purple:
Barely a foot tall, these are already blooming. If you head up 33 north of Ojai these literally carpet the Howard’s Creek and Potrero John trails, but around here I don’t know of any other patches besides a tiny one on the Kennedy Ridge trail on the VRP.
Sticking to the figwort family, it took me nearly a year to figure out the multicolored showstopper:
There used to be a huge one up Gridley right after you finished the super-steep part in the beginning, it looks dead right now I don’t think it survived the dry winter. There are a few up Laguna Ridge and I have seen them on the Fuelbreak Trail that connects Gridley and Pratt. I thought it was some sort of lupine at first with the pink yellow and white flowers, the stalks can be almost 6 feet tall, blooming now.
One last Figwort family member. Sarah’s sharp eye caught this above Thacher last week, I have also seen patches on Howard Creek:
Small and solitary, I’ve seen these growing on rocky steep slopes, hanging on for dear life.
The final rare beauty, I’m excited because this is the first time I have ever seen it around here and it is just starting to bloom:
The bright pink flowers of this large spiny shrub scream “non native”, but trust me, it is Rambler approved. Up Laguna ridge, about 1.3 miles up on the left side, I thought this was a Ceanothus all winter long.
How fitting we end up on the pea family. No guesses yet on Friday’s mystery plant, the picture was purposely terrible, here’s a better one. I found it up Cozy Dell, and I’ve never seen it elsewhere.
Bah, now it’s too easy. Lanny and Sarah give everyone else a chance.