These are two larkspur inflorescence's that are about three feet from each other showing color differences within the species.
After we climb our first hill we have a great view of the road cut above. The trail goes down that brown line where there is no veg. When we get to the top, I let Ella out of the backpack and she foots it back to the truck on her own two toddler feet.
This is a spring bulb called white fairy lantern (Calochortus albus). I love to see the pendulous globes dangling there glowing softly among the drying grasses. The big green thing with the ridges is the fruit.
Next, these white sprays of flowers are virgins bower (Clematis lasiantha) which wind their way up shrubs and trees. This vine was tangled among the branches of a live oak.
Here is our view going up the PG&E road that we follow as a trail. Parts of the loop are chaparral, especially on southern exposures. On the north side of the hills woodland vegetation dominates and provides shade which I love.
This native vine is wild cucumber (Marah fabaceus) and it has fruit that are covered with those prickles you see midway in the picture.
In the cover of woodland trees, we took a moment for a portrait. Ella likes to hold oak leaves or grasses or the various flowers that I hand to her. She is getting pretty good and knows about 10 different flowers now. I'll get her trained yet...
Another interesting native plant called coffee fern (Pellaea andromedifolia). I love the little delicate leaves and the curled underside where the spores dehiss.
Fading fast, from the rising temperatures, I barely caught these blooming white blue eyed Mary or Chinese houses (Collinsia bartsiifolia). I like the common name "Chinese houses" better since I remember the wonderful architecture of the stacked roof lines in the far east. These flowers have blooms layered in decending arrays down the stem. I think the accepted common name got changed a decade or so ago. Sometimes politically correct goes just a bit too far. The common name I learned for this plant is very complementary no mater how you look at it.
Can you say, "Ahhhhh! The view from the top."
After circling around our loop we emerge at the top of the trail to see the north facing slopes, vegetated with mixed oak woodland. Live oak, blue oak and an occasional black oak are found on these more protected outlooks.
Once at the top of the hill I dump my botanist in training on the earth and say "Mush!" and "Walk on!"
She says, "Ummmmm....schmells yummy." That is after sniffing the sage she has in her hand.
We found a caterpillar hot spot near the end of our walk and captured the cocoons on camera.
This cocoon was clinging to sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurrantiacus), one of Ellas favorite plants. If you pick a flower or leaf you can stick it to your clothes and it will stay put for a while. They are our natural stickers.
This is a picture of the butterfly's that were floating around in the vicinity. From what I could find, it is supposed to be a checkerspot butterfly. There are many species so I would totally be guessing if I put a scientific name on it... I'll just stick to my botany.
Finally, on the last leg of the hike Ella wanted to know what these flowers were. I said, "Morning glory." These are (Calystegia purpurata). Like all the members of this species they open in the day and close when it gets cold and the sun goes down.
Just another wonderful hike from me and my baby girl.
And just so you know Wyatt is still around....while I was writing up this post he came staggering out of his room at 9:30 at night half way crying, "Mommy I need you." Then he walked to the screen door, pushed it open, then stood and peed on the porch. Lovely.
While trying for a moment not to laugh, it was impossible. I burst into chuckles and contained laughter. Then I carried his lead weighted body back to bed.
Post, post script: Then I heard some strange munching from outside. My big cat Smobie started complaining and merowing through the screen door. Hmmmm. I walked to the door and a small sized raccoon bolted.... CAT can you please do something constructive here! What the heck do I keep you around for anyway??? Yep. I am sure they ate my fish now.