Tuesday, July 5, 2011

High Country

A band gig Sunday landed upon me the happy obligation to drive up Highway 89. To add to the utter perfection of the day, I had my mp3 player plugged into the stereo system, and just about the time I hit the bit of the drive in the picture below, a piper filed somewhere in the depths of my machine struck into a magnificent rendition of "Scarce of Fishing." Probably, on reflection, that isn't the most accurate musical tribute that might be paid to the area that contains various bits of the Feather River, the Yuba River, and I couldn't tell you how many smaller streams. . .but the crunluath a machs were eloquent.
The highway is just one lane in each direction, but it is situated cunningly, with a generous trimming of pullouts, and each pullout has a view, be it expansive and scenic, or quite concentrated and floral. Below are some guesses at some of the floral bits. The faunal should follow in the next couple of days.

Brodiaea hyacinthina?

Calyptridium monospermum?

Sarcodes sanguinea, or Snow Plant. This was truly weird and wonderful, and I had no idea what it was when I saw it. It looked rather alien, like a cross between a flower and a mushroom. There is, come to find out, a good reason for that. Although it's considered part of the heather family (Ericaceae), it doesn't process its nutrition in the expected floral fashion (i.e. chlorophyll); instead, it takes its sustinence directly from a type of fungus that grows on pine roots. Yes, really.

Here's more on heterotrophic flora. Worth a gander: it's really quite fascinating.

Yellow, definitely. In Fabaceae, I think.

Ergonium umbellatum, Sulphur buckwheat.

Something in the Cryptantha genus, but what?

And, something in the Castilleja (Indian paintbrush) genus.

Balsamorhiza, maybe?

Collomia grandiflora. The common name isn't much help. It's "grand collomia."

And a flock of Aquilegia formosa, Western columbine.

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