Edgewater Park

Date: April 4, 2019

Location: Edgewood Park; 10 Old Stage Coach Road, Redwood City, 94062

Site Description: First part of the hike was dominated by Quercus spp. There were also a lot of ferns living in the understory of the oaks and other trees that were in the first section of our hike. Then, we came out of the oak forest and into a grassy plains area where there were many small flowers. We saw many members of the Fabaceae and Rubiaceae families, as well as some from the Orobancaceae family which I don’t think we had been introduced to yet.

Species we saw:

(Source: https://calscape.org/Castilleja-densiflora-(Denseflower-Indian-Paintbrush)?srchcr=sc5a549f598c6c1)

  • Denseflower Owl’s Clover (Castilleja densiflora): This member of the Orobancaceae is short and stout, but has a beautiful flower that is head-like, which is often characteristic of orobancs, and is whitish-to-purple in color. In contrast with its purple flower, it has bright-to-dull green bracts that sit underneath the flowers. It is a annual root parasite that gets its nutrients from latching onto the roots of other plants. Normally it is native to Baja, CA, but I could not find any information on whether or not it is native to the bay area.

(Source: https://calscape.org/Layia-platyglossa-(Common-Tidy-Tips))

  • Tidy tips (Layia chrysanthemoides): This gorgeous flower is an annual native herb with a head inflorescence, as it is also a member of the asteraceae family. It looks very similar to daisies, with many ray and disk flowers making up the head. Its outer petals are bright yellow with white tips, creating a beautiful white ring the circles the entire head inflorescence. Its leaves are opposite and oblong in shape and the stem and leaves are somewhat hairy. This flower is apparently very popular for gardening and

(Source: https://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Trifolium+depauperatum+var.+depauperatum)

  • Dward bladder clover (Trifolium depauperatum): This annual herb is native to California gets its name from its odd flower that looks like its swelling, much like my bladder on all of our field trips. It is a member of the Trifolium genus of the Fabaceae family. The Trifolium genus is characterized with distinctly shaped leaves that look like clovers and are very soft to touch. As is characteristic of most fabaceae plants, their flowers have unique morphology with wings, a keel, and a banner (though it is not as well defined in this flower). Its leaves have dentate margins and pinnate venation, they almost look a little grass-like to me.

San Bruno Mt. State Park

Date: 3/21/2019

Location: San Bruno Mountain State and County Park, Radio Rd. Daly City, CA.

Site Description: We saw many different flowers during this field trip. Additionally, we saw different habitats as well including chaparral and prairie grasslands. We also saw a few Ericaceae plants in the Arctostaphylos genus. This trail had a nice mix of coastal shrubs, flowers, and some trees.

Species we saw:

  1. This California Golden Violet (Viola pedunculata) is a beautiful member of the Violaceae family. Normally, I think of violets as purple or blue-ish in color, but these pretty flowers were a bright yellow color with 5 petals in a large pinwheel-like assemblage. It has multiple stamens but only 1 pistil. The inner parts of its petals have dark markings, with the markings on the bottom-most petals taking up half of the petals. Its leaves are exclusively basal with chordate-like bases  that form cone-like structures and acute tips, they almost remind me of lily pad leaves. They have some indented venation on their leaves, giving them a somewhat scaly texture. It is a perennial herb and native to California.

(source: https://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=2244)

2. Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata): This interesting herbaceous native annual herb is a member of the Montiaceae family. It has an erect stem coming from the center of what looks very similar to a lily-pad leaf. Its droopy umbel inflorescence contains white 5-petaled flowers. It is one of the most easily recognizable plants we’ve seen so far in the semester (in my opinion). Dr. Paul told us that it gets its name from miners who used to eat miner’s lettuce back in the day. I can only imagine what kind of salad dressing would go well with its leathery leaves.

(source: https://calscape.org/Phacelia-californica)

3. Rock Phacelia (Phacelia californica): This member of the Boraginaceae family has a very unique hairy inflorescence that curls up near the end. Its leaves are deeply, pinnately veined and have entire margins. The flowers themselves are white-to-purple and have indistinguishable amounts of stamens and pistils arising from each flower. The flowers themselves are bell-shaped and are apparently a great food source for the Mission blue butterfly.



Ring Mountain

Date: 4/11/2019

Location: Ring Mountain; approx peak coordinates: 37.9100632,-122.4857852

Site Description: This beautiful, windy mountain overlooking many aspects of the bay area was home to many different flower species belonging to many different families. In particular, this area also had some endemic and endangered species. The majority of the environment was overtaken by grassy hills, but we also saw many serpentine outcrops which were said to be home to some of the endangered and endemic species that we read about on placards throughout the hike.

Species We Saw (Photo credits to Lexi Anderson):

  • Thistle Spp.: This member of the Asteraceae family is commonly known as the thistle. It has a strange head-like inflorescence that almost looks similar to inflorescences found on flowers in the Orobancaceae family. It has many pointy leaves with sharply serrated margins that give it a very distinct look. Thistles are also known or being quite hairy, so much so that they look white in color. This plant, in particular, was pointy to the touch, and I can imagine that any animal that tries to eat it would have a rough time. Native California thistles can be hard to identify because of how identical they look to their non-native counterparts. Later in the class, we were introduced to this Western Thistle, but for now we were told just to recognize this plant as a thistle.

  •  Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): This Apiaceae looking plant is actually a member of the Asteraceae family, as it does have ray and disk flowers. Its leaves are very distinctive, they almost look like ferns. They are highly dissected and are caudal and basal. The flowers themselves are white-to-yellow and form an umbel-like inflorescence at the apex of the stem. One way to distinguish this plant from members of Apiaceae family, is that true umbel inflorescences stem from a single point, where as Yarrow has flower stems protruding from different lengths along the apex of the stem. The stem itself has some small hairs, which I can imagine help with limiting desiccation when it gets windy up on Ring Mountain.

  • Smooth-western morning glory (Calystegia purpurata): This gorgeous white flower is a member of the Convolvulaceae family. In general, its flowers look very similar to the checker mallow and can range from a white color to a deep pink color with white accents. It has 5 stamens centered around 1 erect pistil in the center. One thing Dr. Paul told us about these plants is that their seeds have hallucinogenic properties, which I could imagine would be fun if you didn’t die. This native perennial herb grows in a vine-like form with few flowers popping up along the length of a stem. Its leaves look ivy-like, with sharply acuminate apexes and a squared chordate base.

Summary: On this trip, we were introduced to so many new species! Although it was windy and cold, there were still many species soaking in the sunlight at the top and bottom of the mountain. The mountain itself was covered in beautiful flowers of all different shapes and colors. Yellows, blues, and oranges covered a lot of the mountain, with some red popping up occasionally. If my phone hadn’t broken and been wiped clean before writing this blog post, I would’ve included a picture of this picturesque hike.

**Last 2 blog posts to be posted tonight :)!**

Additional Species:

False Babystars

Douglas’ Sandwort

Rattlesnake Grass

Sky lupine

Purple Sanicle

California Poppy

Mt. Tamalpais (Ridgecrest, CA)

Date: March 14, 2019

Location: Ridgecrest Blvd. on Mt. Tamalpais, CA

Coordinates: 35.633862, -117.679367

Site Description: During this trip we stopped at a few different sites that exhibited very different habitat. While there were areas with hills with low-to-ground species, there were also tall forests with many douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and other trees from the family pinaceae. We also stopped by a natural grassland with adjacent serpentine soils. The trees in these areas were more limited to the Quercus genus of the fagaceae family.

*I had to pull images from the internet because my phone broke and I couldn’t recover any of the photos*

Species we saw:

(Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxalis_pes-caprae#/media/File:Oxalis-pes-caprae0016c.jpg)

1) Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae): This native invasive perennial herb is NOT apart of the Ranunculaceae family and is actually apart of the family Oxalidaceae. As an invasive species, its distribution across San Francisco is huge and during the spring it can be seen everywhere. Its flowers are radially symmetrical and it has trifoliate clover-like leaves near the base of the stem. Its four to five petals are fused and form a funnel-like shape. It has bright orange stamens on the insides of its flower funnels. One fun fact about this flower is that its leaves and stem are high vitamin c and taste like sour-apple candy.

(Source: https://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/357–iris-macrosiphon)

2) Ground iris (Iris macrosiphon): This iris, which is common found in the understory and has a gorgeous, showy white flower, is a member of the Iridaceae family. It is a perennial herb native and endemic to California. It has an erect stem bearing a classic iris flower in parts of 3. It has characteristic monocot grass-like leaves with parallel venation. Its stigmas look like extra petals on top of the real petals. The petals themselves are very large and delicate, with many veins running throughout it. The sepals are similar in coloration to the petals, but differ in shape. It has a bold yellow stripe down the middle of it, which I’ve noticed seems to be present in a lot of irises. Its morphological features truly put into perspective how energetically costly this flower must be to make.

(Source: https://shop.theherbshoppepdx.com/products/galium-aparine-cleavers-tincture)

3) Cleaver (Galium aparine): As is characteristic of the Rubiaceae family, this family that has leaves that occur in whorls along the length of the stem. The stem and leaves are pubescent, causing the leaf to be sticky to the touch. It’s leaves are oblong with rounded apexes. The whorls occur in 7-8 leaves and it has tiny, white, five-petaled flowers at the terminal end of the stem. This plant is also commonly known as bedstraw because back in the day people used to make mattresses out of it.

Summary: On this trip, we had the chance to see many different ecosystems in the Mt. Tam region. We saw rocky outcrops, oak nulls, tall forests with bare-to-moderate understory, and coastal shrub habitats. In addition to reviewing old species, we ran into quite a few new species in many different habitats. I am always amazed by how much biodiversity California supports.

Other species we saw:

Poison hemlock

Coyote brush

California poppy

Amole/Soap plant

Geraniums sp.

California Barberry

Mt. Tamalpais; from middle to bottom.

Date: May 2nd, 2019

Location: Mt. Tamalpais State Park; 37.9033374, -122.6040801

Conditions: Somewhat warmer, most of trip dominated by high trees, so shade was abundant. Nice breeze

Site Description: Almost the entire trail received some sort of shade cover, with plants taking up the understory along the entire trail. Popular species included beaked hazelnut (Corylus cornuta), coastal redwood(Sequoia sempervirens), and various species of fern like western ladyfern (Athyrium filix-femina) and five-fingered maidenhair (Adiantum aleuticum). Compared to last week’s journey, it was nice and cool in the shade. We even ran along a stream for a lot of the trip, got to climb down a scary ladder, and ended our trip/semester of field trips with a nice view out into the ocean.

Species we saw:

    • Red Clintonia (Clintonia andrewsiana): This gorgeous perennial native herb is a member of the Liliaceae family. It has alternate, umbel-like flowering buds, with it also having a terminal flower in a similar umbel-like inflorescence. The flowers themselves have 6 petals and are bi-laterally symmetrical. Their 6 stamens circle 1 pistil. Its basal leaves look and feel rubbery with parallel venation. It’s stem is erect and very thin. This plant is normally found in the Redwood forest and along hillsides.
    • Trail Plant (Adenocaulon bicolor): This low ground-dwelling plant is surprisingly a member of the Asteraceae family. This plant is a perennial native and gets its name from its interesting use. This plant has a particularly pubescent underside that gives it a stark white color. On trails, it can be flipped over (and it stays over) and used as a way to find your way back to where you came from (As Dr. Paul suggests, this would have been useful for Hansel and Gretel). Its leaves are arrow-shaped with truncate basis and acuminate apexes. Their margins are somewhat serrated, but the leaf itself is also a little revulate on the margins. Normally, this plant does flower, but we were introduced to it far too early for any of them to be flowering yet.
    • Nettles (Urtica dioica): These painful herbacious plants are a members of the Urticaceae family, which are known for their stinging nettles that inject a defense chemical that causes pain/discomfort. I didn’t believe until on our way out, I got stung in the hand! Ouchie! These stings are caused by tiny urticating hairs that cover the stem and leaves. It’s leaves grow in alternate opposite nodes, and have serrated margins with an acuminate apex. Its leaves had deep pinnate venation that I can imagine would get the leaves an interesting texture. They were not really flowering while we saw them, but these plants are dioecious so males and females have different flowers.

Summary: We hadn’t really seen a booming forest ecosystem since our first field-trip, so it was really great to be back in a dense forest with a diverse understory of plants. It was also nice to see this great, diverse spot on Mt. Tam, as we really only had experienced small forests and coastal habitat on Mt. Tam. We were able to review some old species in preparation for the up coming field quiz and learned our final set of plants. In the end, Mt. Tamalpais State Park was a great place to test our plant-identification skills and review everything we had learned in class. Our trip ended with a beautiful hill with many flowers and serpentine outcrops and a great view of the ocean.

Other Species we saw

Sticky snakeroot (Ageratina adenophora)

Salmon berry (Rubus spectabilis)

California spikenard (Aralia californica)


Red Columbines (Aquilegia formosa)



Mt. Tamalpais – from the top to the middle.

Date: 4/25/2019

Location: Mt. Tamalpais

Weather: Sunny, some wind

Site Description: The top-half of Mt. Tamalpais presented many different types of habitats. Two of the most abundant habitats included serpentine outcrops, and vast hills with what appeared to be coastal-looking shrubs and scatters of oak-like trees. The serpentine environments had many different lizards and birds overhead. As we learned in class, these habitats are often too toxic for other plants to live on and only serpentine tolerant and endemic plants can utilize the space as habitat. Throughout the hike, we also passed through sections of forest that contained some douglas firs and oak and tanoak trees.

Species we saw:

  • Mystery Species #1: This star-shaped purple flower had a white cup-like receptacle. It’s erect stem and alternate leaves were pubescent. Its leaves skinny and long, and could be classified as elliptic in shape. It was very short and stout, growing on a sunny, grassy hillside. My initial investigations via cal-flora brought be to 5 different families that I kept switching between. Ultimately, I was honed in on the Campanulaceae, as some of the flowers in this family looked similar to this specimen, varying mostly in stem size, pubescence and leaf shape. In the end, I conclude that this is the common bluecup (Githopsis specularioides). It is an annual herb, native to California.

  • Mystery Species #2: Upon first glance, this species immediately reminded me of the yellow violet that we’ve seen before. Using Calflora, I jumped right to the Viola genus, as the jepson e-manual does not have a key to Violaceae section. and keyed in only on the yellow flowers with lengthy leaves low to the ground. I conclude that this plant is the Viola praemorsa. As for a sub-species, I believe it could be linguifolia, I concluded this due to the “irregular tooth” comment on note 23′. Other characteristics of this flower include: fused, yellow petals that for a cup-like shape (rather than a funnel) and flimsy leaves with irregularly toothed margins. It is a perennial herb native to California. Its leaves look mostly basal, but it does have cauline leaves as well. Leaves have pinnate venation, with some reticulate tertiary venation. The inside of its bottom-most petal has black stripes, which may act as a landing pad for pollinators.

  • One of the species we saw out in the field was Western or Cobweb Thistle (Cirsium occidentale), which is a member of the asteraceae family. It is a perennial herb, native to California (a lot of thistles are not native to california and look very similar to native thistles). When in bloom, it has a pink-to-reddish head inflorescence, it looks very similar to the inflorescences. Its leaves are sharply toothed and the entire plant is covered in many hairs which give it a whitish look. These hairs most-likely aid in giving the plant some ability to avoid desiccation during windy/very sunny days on the mountain.

Summary: The mountain top was absolutely beautiful, and contained many species which we have already seen before. It was a great way to begin reviewing for the upcoming field quiz. The Mt. Tam areas has so many different habitats and plants, it’s really mind-boggling to think about living next to such a diverse/rich area. The top of the mountain especially was full of lizards and snakes ready to soak up the intense sunlight. We also saw some birds that were probably surveying the area for prey.


Additional Species:


Family: Hydrangaceae

Western Fence Lizard

Little spring beauty

Family: Monteaceae

Wide-leafed mule ear

Family: Asteraceae

**Blog posts of previous field trips to come next week, my phone broke and I lost all of my pictures :(**