Posted by: Sandy Steinman | June 3, 2018

Kruse Rhododendron Reserve Wildflowers

submitted by Kati Dowdakin
We were visiting Kruse Rhododendron Reserve a couple of days ago.  The Rhododendrons/R. macrophylla are blooming nicely, although most of the flowers are way above head-height.  Closer to the ground, all around the parking area, Clintonia andrewsiana was in full bloom, with flowers on over a dozen plants.  The Coast Lily/Lilium maritimum, was also right there at the edge of the parking area, with several more plants to be seen on the loop trail.  This lily has a rare plant rank of 1B.1, which means “rare, threatened, or endangered in California”.   It is always a treat to find it, and there is a large population of the Coast Lily in bloom right now, just a bit north of the southern-most sign that informs you that you are “entering Salt Point State Park”, on the east side of Highway 1.  It is barely possible to visit those plants, scrambling down into a shallow ditch, but cars are not expecting pedestrians in that area, so be very careful.  Visiting the lilies at Kruse is far safer.

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Another flower of interest is to be found just to the right of the trailhead information board at Kruse, which is the Pacific coralroot/Corallorhiza mertensiana.  This member of the Orchid Family occurs there as single “stalks” or in veritable thickets.  Too cute!

Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve is located approx. 20 miles north of Jenner on HWY 1, near milepost 43, adjacent to Salt Point State Park.

PS:  If you seek a more intense rhodie bloom, continue on up the coast toward Mendocino town, and visit the pygmy forest.  The Rhodendrons are in lavish bloom!  And because the plants are somewhat stunted, the flowers are far more visible.  The Van Damme State Park Fern Canyon Trail has re-opened as of last week.  The bridge connecting the upper & lower campgrounds has a temporary fix.  Van Damme is struggling to make repairs after receiving 7.5″ of rain in 24 hours, back on April 4.  The lower camp sites went under a foot of water.  Many portions of the Fern Canyon Trail had to be cleared and re-built.  It’s an impressive amount of work that’s been done in 6 short weeks, in anticipation of the summer camping crowd.   It was fairly quiet there last week, possibly because the Park’s website still lists their most popular hiking trail as closed.  Not so!

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