This may shock you but I’m a bit of a plant nerd. From the very first hummingbird sage that I beheld seven years ago, I knew I wanted to learn each and every plant from the mightiest bay laurel to the wispiest fescue. That being said, I get a mite distressed when a plant eludes my questionable identification skills.
Although I hate to pick favorites, the Wills-Rice Canyon loop on the Ventura River Preserve is up there near the top. I especially enjoy the dark shadowy serenity of the deep-forest portions of the hike. Under the oaks, beside the snowberry and the poison oaks are two members of the Apiaceae, or carrot family.
How do I know carrot family? Well if you’ve ever purchased or grown carrot, celery, or fennel, you know the lacy green foliage which you throw in with the compostables. Add in the flowering “umbels” and you’ve got Apiaceae.
The first one took me a few years to identify as Pacific Sanicle.
The rounded leaves with tall stalks of indistinct yellow flowers which turn into naughty little burrs which always find their way into Luke’s fur. The second was more vexing. My favorite plant ID website was little help. Maybe wild carrot or celery?
All close cousins but not a match.
I even paid a visit to local guru David Magney. He had some guesses but refused to give a definitive answer until he had a look at the inflorescence and fruit.
Well this week I finally got to see one in bloom, and another which had already gone to seed and everything fell into place.
Either the Santa Monica Mountain website recently did some updates, or I just never noticed the answer right in front of me:
Its native and it even has a pretty name, Sweet Cicely. I think I may have dated a sweet Cicely in high school. Blooms are actually quite pretty up close.
So the lesson here is perseverance and continual observation.
On a side note, if there are any wooly blue curls fiends like me, the show has begun on the Oso Ridge trail.
I was up there today and they are just starting to explode, virtually a whole 10th of a mile of wooly blues on both sides just reaching out and trying to grab you.
It is not an easy hike, over seven miles total but for me it was worth it. You have a few weeks so get up there if you can.