La Purisima/Burton Mesa – Mar30, Apr1, 2007

Two floristic areas, La Purisima and Burton Mesa, situated close to each other in the Lompoc area, share many interesting endemic plants. Stabilized sand dunes are the underpinnings of the unique maritime chaparral found at these locations. Underneath these very porous sands is a shale substrate of low permeability.

(Ceanothus – Ceanothus cuneatus var. fascicularis)

There was very little rain this year, yet there were many plants flowering in the sandy areas where the tour participants were led. The most noticeable flowers in both areas were Ceanothus and Prickly Phlox (large pictures here and here). The Ceanothus (Ceanothus cuneatus var. fascicularis) is a sub-species of the more common Buck Brush (Ceanothus cuneatus) and is endemic to the sandy areas of La Purisima and Burton Mesa.

Prickly Phlox
(Prickly Phlox – large picture here and here)

At La Purisimia, there were wide sandy fields of flowering plants. Many of these plants are found elsewhere in other soil types: Common Brodiaea, Fiddleneck, Owl’s Clover, Bedstraw, Phacelia (Distans), Chia, Wild Taragon, California Dandelion, Pincushion/Yellow Chaenactis, Death Camus, Wild Cucumber, amongst others. Of interest was a low-spreading type of Yarrow, Manystem Woollysunflower, and a pale blue Phacelia, Douglas’ Phacelia. Large picture of Douglas’ Phacelia here, and Distant Phacelia here.

(Golden Manystem Woollysunflower and pale blue Douglas’ Phacelia)

After viewing the sandy fields, we continued up the hill to a more woody area, with many Oaks, Manzanita, Ceanothus, Mountain Mahogony, and others. One longish trek through reasonably thick sand was an effort the trip leader called Botanic Boot Camp. Yet in this area, the Ceanothus and Manzanita grew quite tall. Pictures below are of two types of Manzanita seen – both endemics – Shagbark Manzanita with shaggy red bark, and La Purisima Manzanita with beautiful smooth, dark red bark. (A picture of the fruit of the latter was taken in 2005 and is included just for reference).

Shagbark Manzanita
(Shagbark Manzanita)

La Purisima Manzanita
(La Purisima Manzanita?, taken in 2005)

At an inclined sandy field in Burton Mesa, many interesting and endemic plants were seen – some, such as Curly-leaved Monardella, flower later in the season. Some of them are very small, for example, California Spine Flower, and one has to walk carefully, preferably on invasive grass, to avoid walking on tiny plants.

On a second trip to Burton Mesa on April 1, I photographed the Lompoc sub-species (Erysimum capitatum ssp. lompocense) of the Coastal Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum).

Lompoc Wallflower
(Lompoc Wallflower)

And finally, a garter snake seen on the La Purisima walk.

Garter Snake

The slideshow below starts with photos taken on the SBBG trip in 2007. Tacked on to the end of the slideshow are photos of other plants of interest, taken when I visited Burton Mesa on my own, in previous years.

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