Addenda, Ephemera & Miscellany

Before you become so deeply engrossed in my musings that you plunge into a state of catatonia, awakening in a puddle of drool and Earl Grey tea sometime Saturday afternoon, have a gander at this weekend’s event calendar.

First some old business which needs wrapping…

Last week’s mystery plant was solved promptly by our resident peace corp vet Sarah T. (with an assist from Joel “No-Shoes” Robinson).  Her hand-crocheted Ojai Rambler oven mitt is in the mail, bake me some brownies please.

Lamium amplexicaule

Lamium amplexicaule

Henbit, though a non-native is an interesting lil fella worth a paragraph or two.  It is in the mint family, without the minty smell or taste but is however cleistogamous.  What, that word doesn’t just trip off your tongue?  It translates to “closed marriage”, in our case meaning that like peanuts and many beans, Henbit is self-pollinating.  Personally I find “chasmogamous” (open marriage) more romantic, though I suppose less efficient.

Also known as giraffe’s head, Henbit is a popular poultry snack, and the flowers are a frequent stop for hummingbirds.  For you foragers out there, like chickweed this entire plant is edible and very nutritious, high in iron, vitamins and fiber.  It can be found throughout North America, blooming in February through March in these parts.


Courtesy of “EatTheWeeds.Com”:


Chop four cups of shoots, cover with water, boil 10 minutes. In a separate pan melt three tablespoons butter, add one teaspoon curry powder, two whole cloves, and a quarter teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Stir and cook for one minute, stir in two tablespoons of flour and cook one more minute. Add a half a cup of boiling water from the Henbit, stir until smooth. Drain and add the boiled Henbit  and 3/4 cup sour cream. Cook on low for 15 minutes.

MMM-mmm delish, save some for me, I’m gonna sprinkle some sawdust on mine.

Got a lot of great feedback on the ceanothus guide from last Friday, including some new info you might enjoy.

First, Rick B. requested a detailed look at the leaves of White-thorn ceanothus.  How can I say no to Rick…

White thorn ceanothus leaves

White thorn ceanothus leaves

He then sheepishly informed me that yet another ceanothus, Wartleaf is present on the Camino Cielo and south-facing slopes of the Santa Ynez range.

Ceanothus papillosus

Ceanothus papillosus

You know I’m a big fan of purple so I am dying to see one of these.  Anyone know where I can see one without trekking 6 miles up to Camino Cielo?

OVLC crew stud Todd B. then passed along some great info for our identification purposes.  Quoting him directly:

In the Jepson, Ceanothus are broken into two categories: those having knob-like stipules (once referred to as Cerastes, meaning horn-like), and those having scale-like stipules. You can find the stipules at the base of each leaf. The knob-like stipules are associated with more desert-like plants.

Hoary ceanothus stipules

Hoary ceanothus stipules

For most of what we see in the Ojai Valley, the Ceanothus with knob-like stipules are pretty much all opposite-leaved, except for megacarpus (big pod), which has alternate leaves.

Sometimes the subspecies can appear really different, so it is important to take them into account. For example Ceanothus crassifolius var. planus has flat leaves, while var. crassifolius has leaves that curl under. Both varieties have the same common name: hoary leaf.

Thanks Todd, another great way to tell the difference between crassifolius and cuneatus, which troubled me for a while.  Those stipules on crassifolius are very large, with 2 for each leaf the ring of 4 literally all touch.

Finalmente….One of the first true “wildflowers” of the year, somewhat uncommon and short-lived which I’ve really enjoyed on recent hikes:

Cardamine californica

Cardamine californica

Milkmaids, also known as California Toothwort.  Found in Wills Canyon, in the deep shade among the snowberry and poison oak, on the mountain (not creek) side, also up Sulfur Mountain.

Get out there and enjoy, and for heaven’s sake don’t forget to stop and smell the ceanothus.

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