Marin Headlands

Date: 3/28/2019

Location: Morning Sun Trail across the Golden Gate Bridge

Coordinates: 37.8530779, -122.4935196

Site-Description. Primarily coastal shrubs. Many familiar species seen, as this is the location of our first field quiz of the semester. The bottom of the trail had a few Arroyo Willows (Salix lasiolepis) and some trees which appeared to be from the Pineaceae family. Almost immediately with the change in upward direction of the trail, the plant-life quickly changed from sparse forest to primarily coast shrubs. There we many beautiful flowers in bloom, with many reds, yellows, and purples covering the hillside.

Species we saw:
These California goldfields (Lasthenia californica) took over a majority of the space on the top of their hill. Their beautiful head-like inflorescences mark them as members of the Asteraceae family. It is an annual herb native to California and is found is almost every ecoregion of California aside from desert regions and east of the major California mountain range. Their bracts form a light green cup around the base of the flower while the flowers themselves appear to be a beautiful bright highlighter-yellow. Its hairy stems and leaves have a weedy/grasslike appearance.

This plant is known as the Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii). This flower, which I originally believed to be in the Malvaceae family, is actually a member of the Boraginaceae family. It is native flowering herb that occurs annually. The flower has a cup-like shape with pure white petals that have gorgeous blue markings on the inner petals. Their leaves are opposite-to-alternate and have deep lobes around their margin which are similar in shape to maple leaves.

This yellow flower with petals that look like a dancer’s skirt is known as the Yellow Monkeyflower (Erythranthe guttata) which is in the family Phrymaceae. Its petals appear to be fused near the base of the flower, while its petals are asymmetrically whorled-there is a strange occurrence of orange dotting in the cup of the flower that is fairly ciliate. The flowers appear in a raceme inflorescence. Their leaves and serrated margins that almost look sharp to the touch. Their venation is strong, similar to the sticky-monkey flower, where some raised veins are present on the ventral side of the leaf.  This species is generally found either near water or in very moist soils.

Other Species:

(uploading soon!)

Summary: This trail had many species that we have familiarized ourselves with through the semester. There was, but not limited to, Coyote Brush, California Poppies, Lupins, Miner’s Lettuce, and other coastal species. The trail led up a pretty tall hill and the ecology throughout was fairly consistent, with the bottom being mostly sparse forest, the middle being coast shrub, and the near-top being a mix of many flowers and some coastal shrub. This hike also included an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge and some really beautiful flowers that created awesome splashed of color along the mountain-side.


County of Ross – Marin Water District

Date: 2/28/2019

Location: Natalie Coffin Greene Park, Marin Water District in Marin, CA

Coordinates: 37.958217, -122.572152

Site Description: Heavy tree coverage surrounded by dams and reservoirs. Dominant species include California Bay, young California Redwood, various invasive ivy sp.. In addition to those species, there were also a few Quercus sp. from the Fagaceae family that created canopy-like cover over a good portion of the forest. Ground was very wet and somewhat muddy from previous rainfall. Further along the trail, ferns and plants that thrive in low-light conditions were found in areas with denser tree cover and limited sunlight (oak nulls). All along the trail, we spotted many flowers.


At the beginning of the trail, we ran into a few familiar species like the California Bay tree  that were blooming with yellow flowers and closer to the ground we also saw a few sword and chain ferns. One of the newer ferns we introduced ourselves to was the California maiden-hair fern (Adiantum jordanii). It belongs to the family Pteridaceae and has delicate, paddle-shaped leaves that originate from a surprisingly black stem.


Because of the great rainy season, there were a few really pretty flowers out. The Congden’s monkeyflower (Diplacus congdonii) and the Mosquito bill (Primula hendersonii) were two really pretty flowers that we saw at the beginning of the hike. The mosquito bill is a perennial herb with dark stems and round rubbery leaves. It has a basal rosette with stemless leaves and, overall, is a very tiny flower. We climbed off-trail up into a hill to get a close look. Its most interesting feature is definitely its reflexed petals which expose the flower’s black and pink pistil.


Moving along, we saw a few more flowers: California saxifrage (Micranthes californica) and Bitter crest (Cardamine californica). We also ran into an unfamiliar family that we haven’t seen on our field trips yet: Orobancaceae. We saw a Warrior’s plume (Pedicularis densiflora), which is a perennial herb with highly dissected leaves and a cone-like inflorescence that gives rise to a beautiful red flower. As we learned in class, plants in the orobancaceae family are often parasitic. This flower is a root parasite and attaches to the roots of other plants in order to obtain necessary nutrients. 


Near the top of the hill, we reached a scrubby grassland with scattered Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) that were not yet flowering. After walking a little more, we ran into an Oak null with trees in the Quercus genus of the fagaceae family. One species that we saw was the California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii). At the time of our visit, they were just getting ready to sprout new leaves and possibly flowers. One of the most notable characteristics of the Quercus genus is that they tend to grow in a disorganized, canopy-like fashion; they create a lot of shade cover that block sunlight access.


Another flower that we ran into during our hike was the blue dick, which is in the family Themidaceae and is related to lilies. It has a clustered head of flowers that are tightly packed, dark purple, and occur in parts of three. It is a native perennial herb and was found a couple times along our path, leading me to believe it must be a fairly common flower either in this area or in California (I believe we’ve seen it before).

The last major flower that we ran into was the ground iris which is in the family iridaceae and had grass-like leaves. From both of these characteristics, we can conclude that this native perennial herb is a monocot. From Dr. Paul, we learned that iris’ tend to put a lot of energy into making their flowers. This makes a lot of sense because their flowers are giant compared to a lot of the other ones that we’ve seen so far. They have really unique reproductive morphology where the stigmas look like petals on top of petals. I can imagine that this is beneficial for pollinators who land on the ends of their big petals to pollinate their flowers.


Summary: Spring has definitely begun to sprung here in California with many native flowers blooming. We familiarized ourselves with a bunch of new flowers, while also getting to review some of our older species.