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 :(**


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.

San Pedro Valley Park: Trout Farm Trail

Date: 2/21

Location: San Pedro Valley Park – Trout Farm Trail; Northern edge of Santa Cruz mountain range


Site Description: Open trail surrounded by very dense forests. Weather was cold with a lot of moisture in the air. Stream running through beginning of the trail and along parts of the trail due to heavy rain earlier in the week. Dominant species at the beginning of the trail include young California redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), species from the genus Quercus (oaks), and redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea). Further along the trail, we ran into some manzanitas which dominated a large portion of the top of the trail. Their exact species was undecided, but they shared very similar morphological characteristics, both were believed to belong to Arctostaphylos sp.. Along the trail and deading down the trail, one of the most prominent species that we saw many Eucalyptus trees which I will discuss more later in the blog post.


We departed USF around 1:00pm to avoid rainy conditions. Upon arriving to San Pedro Valley, we parked and met at the beginning of the Trout Farm Trail.

The first species we identified was the redosier dogwood, a member of the family Cornaceae. This shrub had opposite node arrangement with pinnately venated leaves. Dogwoods, in general, are found near water and are often planted outside of houses for aesthetic purposes. The leaves were fairly large with an acuminate apex and a pubescent underside. The most noticeable characteristic about the redosier dogwood was its red stems leading up to the leaves and the white umbel inflorescences. Another cool fact about their leaves was that once ripped apart, the hairs on the underside of the leaves kept the separated leaf parts together.

Continuing on, we saw a very familiar species – the Trillium ovatum. We also saw the giant wakerobin (Trillium chloropetalum [pictured above]), which is related to and looks very similar to the trillium ovatum. The major difference is that it is larger, has petals with a pink-ish tint, and weak mottling on its leaves.

An unfamiliar tree that we ran into was the Coast live oak in the genus Quercus and the family Fagaceae. It had many lichens and mosses living on it and its branches create a canopy-like structure that covered a fairly wide area. Shortly after, we ran into a familiar tree: the Arroyo willow. Its catkins were still fairly active with many male plants having pollen that could be flicked loose.

One flower that we saw during our hike was the greater periwinkle (Vinca major). This bisexual flower has 5 purple petals that are fused at the base; the flower’s shape reminds me of a windmill. The sepals of the periwinkle, which are claw-like and green, are vastly different from their petals. It is an invasive species that usually resides in tropical climates. It belongs to the family Apocynaceae, which are known widely to be tropical flowers. Its leaves have opposite nodes, a somewhat chordate base, and contain a white fluid on the inside that is known as a latex.

Near the top of the trail, we ran into a Manzanita forest where two members of the Ericaceae family dominated the rough soil. They have white bell-shaped flowers that occur in cluster-like inflorescences. The inflorescences pictures are fairly young. Their stems are pubescent, but their brittle leaves with slight dentation are glabrous. Their most recognizable characteristic, aside from their flowers, was their peeling bark to reveal red wood underneath. The specimens pictured are most likely an Arctostaphylus sp..

Eucalyptus trees dominated the entire trail. Aside from the manzanita forest near the top of the trail, eucalyptus trees were found almost everywhere throughout the trail. Originating from Africa, these invasive trees grow very fast when given access to large quantities of water. Their sword-like, sickle-shaped leaves are a unique characteristic to adult eucalyptus trees, while young trees exhibit blue-green stems and more traditionally pinnate-shaped leaves. These trees grow very tall and incidentally provide a lot of shade which limits sunlight for other plants and leaves room for understory adapted plants to grow. On our way back to the cars, along the Brooks Creek Trail, we saw many eucalyptus trees-all of which are believed to be blue-gum eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus).

Summary – This trip to San Pedro Valley introduced us to some really cool species, as well as a couple of species that we’ve seen on previous field trips. It was great to get a review through recognizing some Trilium’s, Arroyo willows, Sagebrush, etc.. We also saw some familar familes: Asreraceae, Boraginaceae, Fagaceae, and others. One of the more surprising things to me was how dense this forest was. Most of the sites we’ve been to have been pretty open with mostly shrubs acting as the major ‘canopy’. Additionally, I was surprised to see so many invasive species in the area.

-Additional Species-

Yerba Santa

Golden chinquapin

Beaked hazelnut

California buckeye (and acorn)




Date: 12/14/2019

Location: Batteries to Bluffs Trail in the Presidio, San Francisco CA

Coordinates – 37.796835, -122.479460

Site Description: Coastal cliff habitat with many low shrubs and herbs that overlook the ocean. Next to the trail was a rocky, serpentine outcrop where not a lot was growing. Sub-habitats included streams, cliffs, and dense clusters of shrubs. Dominant species included the non-native ice plant (species unidentified), coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis), and other low shrubs like the lupines and lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus). Tree cover was rare, but occurred in patches rather than 1-2 trees at a time. The plants in this area must have good adaptions to preventing desiccation, as it tends to be a very windy area around this time of the year.

The weather for our trip was mildly cloudy in the beginning with sparse, light and infrequent rain showers. We departed USF around 1:00pm and arrived in the Presidio at about 1:30pm. Parking the vans on the side of the road, we began at the Batteries to Bluffs Trail in the Presidio. This area was historically a military area, where they once planted many Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) trees to bring shade/cover to the area. Most of the trees have since been removed and the Batteries to Bluffs trail, with the help of non profits like Presidio Trust, has somewhat returned to the low-shrub, coastal habitat that it was once believed to be.

One of the first plants that we saw on the trail was the coffee berry (Frangula californica). At first glance, this shrub looked a lot like what would traditionally be known as holly with rich green leaves and small red berries. Similar to holly, coffee berry has dentition on the margins of its leaves, though they appear to be way less extreme. Coffee berry appears in the family Rhamnaceae, within this family flowers often have structures in parts of 5. On the coffee berry, these flowers appear to be a light yellow-ish color. These plants can either grow in the understory of other plants or they can grow out in the open. When grown in the understory, coffee berry tends to have larger leaves to compensate for its placement. If it grows out in the open, it must face the harsh elements that come along with surviving on the coast. As with any coastal plant, this plant faces the threat of desiccation from strong winds. Additionally, sometimes their leaves might appear to be reddish in color-this is because they’re younger leaves that will eventually be predated on by hungry animals. Filling younger leaves with chloroplast comes at a great energetic cost that sometimes does not seem to be beneficial if the leaf is going to get eaten anyway. 

(Left: Yellow lupin; Right: Beach blue lupin)

Continuing along the trail, we saw two species of lupin: Yellow lupin (Lupinus arboreus) and beach blue lupin (Lupinus chamissonis). Although these shrubs looked quite similar from afar, they proved to be different upon closer inspection. Beach blue lupin appeared to be a darker blue-ish green color while the yellow lupin was a more ‘true-green’ color. Both plants had flower-shaped leaves that were palmately compound. These plants fall under the family: Fabaceae. The yellow lupin will give rise to yellow flowers while the beach blue lupin will give rise to purple flowers. Across the Golden Gate Bridge, however, Lupinus arboreus may appear to be purple as well.

One of the more common families that we found throughout the Batteries and Bluffs trail was the Rosaecae family. Flowers from this family sometimes have thorns, but more commonly they have white flowers. Here are some of the species that we observed along the way:

(Pictured below, middle: California Blackberry)

  1. Oso Berry (Oemleria cerasiformis)
  2. California Blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
  3. Coast Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)

I haven’t thought much about it before, but it seems that a number of plants in the Rosaceae family are edible. I am excited to learn during the progression of the semester the different families some of my favorite fruits and vegetables belong to.




One tree that we ran into during our hike, which I have mentioned previously, was the Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa). This tree, that looks very similar to a pine tree, used to be prevalent in the Presidio, however it is not native and halts many other plants from growing due to the large shadow that it casts. It has since been removed in many areas of the Presidio by restoration efforts. This gymnosperm has pressed needle-like leaves against a stem and belongs to the family Cupressaceae. The tree pictures above is a female, as it contains many round cones which Dr. Paul described as looking like a ‘mini-globe’.

Another type of tree that we saw was the arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis), a diecious and deciduous tree-shrub. This tree is in the family Salicaceae and its bark is responsible for the production of salicylic acid. Its leaves normally appear in alternate positions and are simple, lanceolate leaves with a whitish underside. The leaves have fallen off for now, but will start to come back again after winter is over. The specimen pictured to the left is a male with blooming catkins. These reproductive structures have many anthers on them for spreading pollen, which is most likely distributed by wind to the female trees.


Summary – This trip was a wonderful way to familiarize ourselves with a lot of the shrub-life found in California. I hadn’t realized it until the end, but in many of my other field classes we had seen a lot of the plants that we saw in the Presidio. Coyote bush specifically was one of the ones that dominated the landscapes of the California planes and mountains that we visited. This field trip was a great way to expose ourselves to some new plants and recall some that we found on our Baltimore Canyon trip. I will definitely be returning to this site to study for the field exam.

(Additional Species)

–To be posted later–