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)



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