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 :)!**