Baltimore Canyon Trip

Date: February 7th, 2019

Location: Baltimore Canyon in Kentfield, CA

Time of year: Early spring/late winter

Objective: Observe and identify plant species living in the Baltimore Canyon/Marin County area

Our group departed from USF around 12:00pm, heading North across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin County. The weather conditions for the day were cloudy and cold; although it rained earlier that morning, the rain was fairly infrequent and did not persist during our trip. The average temperature throughout the day was somewhere in the 50s. Our drive consisted of many winds and turns as we headed up some residential streets into a public hiking area. After parking our vehicles, we began our trek through the wooded hiking area. Our approximate location is shown in the iPhone screenshot below.


I was too overwhelmed, with being surrounded by what seemed like millions of trees, to record the particular trail we took, but I can imagine that most (if not some) of the plant-life we observed can be found in other parts of the Baltimore Canyon area as well. Along our hike, Professor Paul identified many species and families, none of which we had specifically discussed yet in class but his goal was to give us a general overview of how the rest of our field trips would work. Up to this point, the only relevant thing we had discussed in class was basic plant morphology and identification.

On our way to our descent into the canyon, we identified the following:

Common name: California bay

Family: Lauraceae

Genus+Species: Umbellularia californica

Description: This common bay area plant is a basal dicot with perfect yellow flowers. Their leaves are simple with entire margins. They do produce fruit called bay nuts, which closely resemble avocados. Funny enough, these trees are in the same family as avocados.

Common name: Tanoak

Family: Fagaceae

Genus+Species: Notholithocarpus densiflorus

Description: This plant has really cool leaves that not only have distinctive dentate margins, but they also have dense hairlike structures underneath their leaves that give the leaves their bluish color (thus we would also classify this leaf as pubescent). Many species of oak are currently suffering from sudden oak death. This illness has caused the dying off of many oak plants (which can be seen behind the alive tanoak plant pictures), but luckily oaks are abundant and should not become extinct due to this issue.

Common Name: Big Leafed Maple (fallen leaf)

Description: Big leafed maples are deciduous. Their leaves have palmate venation, and their distinct shape is also seen in the Canadian flag!

Common Name: Scott's Broom

Description: Although this species may look pretty, it is actually highly invasive. It is named Scott's broom because its leaves and stems closely resemble the bristles of a broom.

After observing many different plants, both native and non-native to the Bay area, we headed down into the canyon to take a look at some of the amazing redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens). Along the way, we spotted a gorgeous way flower called the Western wakerobin (trillium ovatum).

Common Name: Western wakerobin or Western trillium

Family: Melanthiaceae

Genus+Species: Trillium ovatum

Description: This perfect flower is a perennial herb with three leaves, a single stalk, three green sepals, and three petals. As is common with features that occur in threes, this plant is a monocot. It has six long, yellow anthers around the inner whorl and three stigma and an ovary that are positioned in space superior to the male reproductive system. Therefore, this plant has a superior ovary reproductive orientation.

After making our way through the canyon, we began our hike uphill and back to our vans where we headed back to USF around 4:30pm.