Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Treks on the Santa Rosa Plateau: Maidenhair Ferns on Vista Grande Trail

Well, I'm on a blogging spree this week. I'm sure being on vacation (or rather, staycation) has something to do with it.

Anyways, here's another post, and not of a California Mission this time (although we do plan on visiting the San Gabriel Mission in LA tomorrow). Last Sunday, we hiked the Vista Grande Trail starting from behind the visitor center and looping back on Waterline Road. Weather was sunny and mild, albeit a bit on the cool- breezy side. The Sycamores were all turning color and the mosses and lichen on the rocks were rejuvenating with our recent rains. The pathways & tenajas were also starting to perk up with signs of greenery.

11/28/10 Junction of Vista Grande Trail & Waterline Road behind visitor center.

11/28/10 Lichen on rock, Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Vasey's Prickly Pear (Opuntia vaseyi), in fruit. Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Giant Wild Rye (Leymus condensatus). Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Umbrella Sedge (Cyperus eragrostis)? Vista Grande Trail (wetlands area near bridge over Cole Creek).

11/28/10 Southern Honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. denudata). Abundant along the trail. Vista Grande Trail. 

11/28/10 More Southern Honeysuckle.

11/28/10 Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Bridge over Cole Creek, Vista Grande Trail. 

11/28/10 Western Sycamore (Platanus racemosa). Near bridge at Cole Creek, Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Beautiful moss and lichen-encrusted rock. Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), coming back to life. Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Just past bridge over Cole Creek, before trail ascends steeply for a short distance.

And now, for the highlight of our hike: California Maidenhair ferns! On the trail just past the bridge, I spotted the tell-tale delicate, lacy green foliage of one of these little beauties at the base of a rock. A little further up the trail in a shady oak grove, there were even more of them! I can't tell you how excited I was with this find - just ask Gil, 'cause I think my hyper-enthusiastic reaction left him bemused but also slightly perturbed at the same time. Heck, the last time I saw a Maidenhair fern (granted, not our native species, but a houseplant that looks quite similar) was in a 4" plastic pot at Lowe's. Can ya blame a gal?

11/28/10 California Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum jordanii). Vista Grande Trail. 

11/28/10 California Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum jordanii). Vista Grande Trail. 

11/28/10 California Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum jordanii). Vista Grande Trail. 

11/28/10 Checker Bloom (Sidalcea malvaeflora ssp. sparsiflora) leaves starting to emerge. Vista Grande Trail.

11/28/10 Vista Grande Trail (heading towards junction with Monument Hill Rd. and Waterline Rd.)

11/28/10 Say's Phoebe (Sayornis saya), on Waterline Road (heading back towards visitor center).

Here he is again, on a twiggy perch. Waterline Road.

11/28/10 Dried remnants of California Goldenrod (Solidago californica). Waterline Road.

With our recent rains, the Plateau is starting to green up. However, we still have a long ways to go before we know how much rain we'll actually get this winter season. La Nina is in the forecast (portending cooler, but drier conditions). I've learned over the years, however, that nothing is as predictable as what the prognosticators want to prognosticate. In the meantime, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.


  1. Not that I don't like them all, but count 7 up from the bottom and that's a real beauty. So you'll be up in the hood tomorrow? You should try to swing by the Huntington as well.

  2. What an interesting walk. Our Maidenhair ferns don't seem to have bounced back yet, although will all our recent rain, and more on the way, I'm watching for them.

    After living in the Central Valley for a number of years, and fighting nutgrass tooth and nail, I always assumed that anything that looked like nutgrass, was nutgrass! Looking at your post though, I think we might actually have the native Cyperus eragrostis here, rather than the non-native Cyperus rotundus. I'll have to do some homework though to figure out the difference. I learned something today though, that we have a native form. Thanks!

  3. Altadena hiker, we were indeed up in the hood today. I actually lived in San Gabriel from 1985-1987, but after the Whittier Narrows quake in October of 1987, the Mission was closed for several years for repairs and retrofitting, so I gave up on the idea of visiting back then. It's a really cool place - I was especially enamored of the massive old grape vines climbing over an arbor and the equally impressive (towering!) olive trees on the grounds. Btw, the Huntington was an old haunt of mine back in the day when I was a college student and there was no admission charge so I could hang out in my fav spot and read for hours on end. Didn't have time to go today, but do want to go back there soon to check out the new Chinese garden.

  4. Clare, you have Maidenhair ferns on your property? What a treat!

    I used a field guide from a noted local naturalist (who has documented pretty much every single plant along the main trails of the Santa Rosa Plateau), along with a recently published flora & also CalPhotos to ID the Cyperus eragrostis. So I, too, learned recently that there's a native form of Cyperus. Perhaps yours are too!

  5. How interesting for me to see the Southern cousins of some plants we have. Is that honeysuckle really orangy? Quite attractive, really...

  6. Town Mouse, yes they are really quite orangy. I've always wondered if they were edible, too. I know the Chumash Indians used the branches to make brooms and brushes, and even rudimentary baskets, but I haven't found any literature on the use of the berries. Would be interesting to know, since they look good enough to eat! I've got a couple growing on our property - they train well on a trellis and also make for a nice ground cover.