Friends of Sausal Creek: Fern Ravine Seed Walk and Nursery Propagation Day. Friday, May 27, 2011.

After exploring the wetland area for a bit to see the current state of things (there have been a number of restoration workdays in this vicinity, see the other Sausal Creek Watershed postings!) I caught up with the caravan down at the Orchard Trail junction, where they had all paused to admire the lovely abundance of trilliums there.

After consultation with various field guides it was determined that these are western trilliums (T. ovatum) based on the notable length of the flower stalk.  The flowers of the other candidate, giant trillium, are sessile, meaning no flower stalk at all.

After pausing for another moment to talk about this bracken fern, and to note that there didn’t seem to be any wood ferns in the vicinity with which to compare it, the caravan moved on down the Fern Ravine trail.

I fell behind, as usual, this time to linger among the beautiful third-growth redwoods here; and, especially, to compare the foot-by-foot character of the terrain with what I am encountering in the southeastern portion of Redwood Regional Park.  There seems to be some controversy on this point, but to this reporter the west-facing slopes of eastside Redwood bear all the indicia of heavy logging. Scars of ancient skid roads, earthworks at good steam donkey vantages. But no remaining redwoods.  Maybe something else of great economic value caused people to apply great labor to major engineering works on the east side a century ago, but if so, what?

This shall soon be the subject of another post, but one vivid characteristic of the spine of some of the spur ridges of eastside Redwood is nearly universal fairy rings of, yes, oak, madrone, and bay, of which I have dozens of photos. Fairy rings with ancient, often healed-over stumps inside them, or nearly nearly covered by the combined girths of the now-old, second-growth trees. And not stumps at the practical height for deliberate cutting, at some feet above the ground, but right at or near ground level.  Once you start to see it, it just jumps out at you, everywhere you look on those ridges.

And some of the bay trees here in Fern Ravine suggest the same. Hence, my lingering to take photos.

I caught up with folks further down the trail, however, and in time for some photos of Osmorhiza chilensis, or sweet cicely, in seed and in flower:

Somewhere around this point we headed back up the hill, with some folks trailing Himalayan blackberry that they’d pulled along the way. The woods got cleared of some holly, too, which is what is happening in this next photo — a beautiful tree, but also a clear invasive in damp woods from here all the way to the rainforests of Washington state.

Further up, along the upper Orchard Trail, someone spotted some native Barbarea orthoceras, or winter cress (no photo, alas!), which elicited some glad reactions among the native nursery crew. And then, along the paved fire road heading back north towards our trailhead, we spotted this lively Phacelia californica, in the photos at above right and below:

The immediate wetland area has been the site of multiple native plantings, so when we got back to the trailhead I explored a bit on my own.  The annual invasives have sprung up with great vigor, but with the aid of a forest of multicolored flags and some elbow grease the natives are hanging on.  Given our recent efforts on the prairies of southeastern Redwood I am making a study of the local grasses, so shall conclude this morning entry with some photos of Elymus glaucus, or blue wild rye. The close-up details of grasses are quite important for identifying them, so go ahead and click on any of these photos for a full-sized image:

More to post, coming soon!

This entry was posted in Fern Ravine Restoration Project, Sausal Creek Watershed. Bookmark the permalink.