Led by Carolyn Longstreth

Eight enthusiastic flower-seekers from Marin CNPS made their way to member Alice Bachelder’s Napa County cabin on Saturday, May 7. A cool and rainy spell during the previous days had not dashed our hopes for a good display of interesting plants and indeed we weren’t disappointed .

Masses of red ribbons Clarkia (Clarkia concinna ssp. concinna), Ithuriel’s spear (Triteleia laxa), Chinese-houses (Collinsia heterophylla) and golden fairy lanterns (Calochortus amabilis) greeted the visitors as they drove northeast on Route 138 to Pope Valley. Even greater masses of color appeared on the site of a 2014 wildfire.

After meeting up at Alice’s cabin, the group made its way to the nearby Missimer Wildflower Preserve, and some of us stopped first to admire a large stand of stream orchid (Epipactis gigantea) in a nearby shady creek. Adjacent was a spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis) in bloom and a stand of what appeared to be small-flowered star-lily (Toxicoscordion micranthum).

At the Missimer Preserve, right next to the parking area, were hundreds of a tall pale-yellow Calochortus. The identification was in doubt as the flowers differ somewhat from the Marin version of the species  but ultimately were resolved to be Calochortus luteus. A meander down to the creek yielded pink-flowered lupine (Lupinus microcarpus  var. microcarpus), deep blue marsh larkspur (Delphinium uliginosum}, vegetative narrow-leaved milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), blue-flowered skullcap (Scutellaria siphocampyloides), and white long-rayed Triteleia (Triteleia peduncularis), also numerous young plants of Hoita macrostachya were sprouting creekside .

We crossed the road to a rockier, drier grassland habitat, the group found many other species there, including the pale-flowered ssp. of western larkspur (Delphinium hesperium ssp. pallescens), deep blue royal larkspur (Delphinium variegatum), bright yellow-flowered cream sacs (Castilleja rubicundula ssp. lithospermoides) (ours are much paler in color), the rare Napa cryptantha (Cryptantha hispidula), and a yellow-flowered western dwarf flax (Hesperolinon bicarpellatum). The pink bitter-rootbitter-root (Lewisia rediviva) had already flowered and gone to fruit.

The group next proceeded to the the wildfire burn site glimpsed on the way in. The colorful masses could now be more closely examined and identified as red ribbons Clarkia (Clarkia concinna ssp. concinna), globe Gilia (Gilia capitata ssp. capitata), the rare Tracy’s subspecies of graceful Clarkia (Clarkia gracilis ssp. tracyi), woolly daisy (Eriophyllum lanatum var. achillaeoides), and yarrow (Achillea millefolium). A bit to the west along Butts Canyon Road, near Detert reservoir the group found the stunning orange flame ragwort (Packera greenei), unusually tall specimens of a jewel flower (Streptanthus breweri), masses of a Leptosiphon (possibly  L. latisectus), curly-leaved western morning- glory (Calystegia collina ssp. oxyphylla), annual pink monkeyflower (Mimulus laynae), tiny blue bellflower (Heterocodon rariflorum) and scarlet fritillary (Fritillaria recurva) plants in fruit.
It was a wonderful day enjoyed by all who attended! A trip the same area in April would doubtless yield a different array of species!

Text by Carolyn Longstreth.

Photos by Vernon Smith.

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