Despite the low rainfall this year, there was (and is) still much to see on Figueroa Mountain besides poppies & lupines, whose magnificent displays are almost over. And… there is much to discover about plants and especially butterflies.
Having skimped on walking (one of my favorite activities) for many months, I thought a walk along Catway road would be a good idea. Catway proved to be quite different; in fact it could be called Ladybug Road because the bugs appeared to be on just about every plant. I walked to the turnout at the trail head and then returned while photographing a few new plants, such as Bitter Cherry with very ornate flowers.
(Catway Road – Bitter Cherry)
Along Figueroa Mountain Road at the “Tidy Tips area” about a mile before Ranger Peak and opposite a very tall conifer, many plants continued to brighten up the area after the poppy/lupine bank lower down the mountain had turned brown – Tidy Tips, Goldfields, Poppies, Linanthus, Gilia, Buttercup, Wild Onion, etc. Some highlights — a Linathus with nine petals, very dark pink Linanthus, and a spray of flowers with one purple and three pink flowers.
(Common Linanthus, Leptosiphon parviflorus – nine petals instead of five,
and dark pink variety)
Clarkia are beginning to appear in various places on the mountains and along canyon roads. Lower down on Figueroa Mountain, numbers of dark purple-red Clarkia were growing among dry grasses.
A species new to my camera, Willow-herb Clarkia, was found on a shady bank on Happy Canyon Road. A pair of Cylindrical/Speckled Clarkia (Clarkia cylindrica) showing different states of stamens and stigma were also photographed nearby. A couple days later, I learned the technical term for the sequence of these states (protandry/protogyny) on Marc Kummel’s Fotolog.
(Happy Canyon Road – Willow-herb Clarkia)
(Happy Canyon Road – Cylindrical Clarkia pair exhibiting protandry)
Also of interest along this road — Fremont’s Death Camas (Toxicoscordion fremontii, old name Zigadenus fremontii) taller than some seen earlier on Figueroa Mountain, Clustered Broomrape and butterflies.
An off-road muddy area served as an attraction for a number of butterflies, including Western and Pale Swallowtails, California Sister (a first) and an Azure Blue. Yellow butterflies, probably sulphurs, skipped over the vegetation at high speeds with few opportunities for photos.
Happy Canyon will soon be home to many Variable Checkerspots, because caterpillars of that species were seen feeding on many plants along the side of the road – just in time for the flowering of one of their favorite plants, Golden Yarrow.
(Happy Canyon Road – Western and Pale Swallowtails)
(Happy Canyon Road – California Sister )
(Happy Canyon Road – Variable Checkerspot caterpillars )
Along Sunset Valley Road, White Sage has yet to bloom, but Umbrella Larkspur were stately and purple in many places. Both the Larkspur and California Thistle were visited by Pale Swallowtails despite high wind.
(Sunset Valley Road – Pale Swallowtail on California Thistle