Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 18, 2017

Calaveras Big Trees Wildflowers 5/18/17

Charlie Russel reports

This is a great time to visit Calaveras Big Trees State Park. In addition to the wonderful Sequoia’s, the Pacific Mountain Dogwood are in full bloom (best trees are in the North Grove area), and there are large numbers of beautiful wildflowers on the Lava Bluff trail. Note that the trail is a bit rugged, as they’ve not cleared out the downed trees that cross the trail. But that didn’t slow us down much.

I don’t have a complete list of flowers yet, as I’m still working on classifying them. We found many kinds of ferns and mosses. Mountain Misery is in full bloom all along the trail. Three kinds of monkey flower (Bicolored, Torrey’s and seep spring). Hartweg’s iris were just starting to come out. Two, maybe three species of Miner’s lettuce. Two different yellow violets. False solomon’s seal just starting to bloom. Multiple native clovers, including big masses of white-tipped clover on one of the hillsides. Indian paintbrush just starting. Canyon dudleya, Miniature lupine, a small fritillary, a pale larkspur, Lemmon’s catchfly, a small cinquefoil all found along the trail in scattered places. There is an exposed, western facing slope about a mile in that had water seeping down the hillside, It had masses of Farewell to spring, huge numbers of seep-spring monkey flower, small baby blue eyes, a big patch of white meadowfoam. If you go up to the top of the hill here there were harlequin lupine and Valley tassels.

Starflower was just starting to bloom, in a week or two there should be masses of them. Leopard lily plants in abundance along one stream, but they are several weeks away from blooming. Lots of columbine plants starting up. Purple milkweed budding but not open yet.

It is a 2.5 to 3 mile hike, with a lot of shade in parts. Really great now, and I expect there to be a wide variety of flowers for several more weeks at least. Hiking during the week, we almost had the trail to ourselves.

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