A challenge

Do you remember this photograph I posted of the yellow hills of Big Sur?

Valley View by Daniel Danbom

Well, I ran into Joe Burnett, biologist for the VWS’s Condor reintroduction program, last night and he suggested a challenge. If Jeff Norman were still around (we miss you Jeff!) this challenge would not be necessary.

This is the challenge – hike into Mt. Manual, and take close-up photographs of the various yellow flowers contributing to this unusual phenomena, and send them to me at kwnovoa@mac.com I will post them on my blog. If you know what they are, include that information. But even if you do NOT know what they are, send them in, and hopefully, someone can help us identify them. We will also see how much of what we are seeing is native or introduced.

Here is a close-up of one flower that is making the hills yellow, at least close to the highway. Is it also on Mt. Manual? I originally thought it was a tansy, but I believe that may be incorrect, and would love for someone to identify it for me. It is all over right now, in more abundance than I have ever seen – both in areas touched by the Basin Fire, and those untouched.

Do you know what this is? Barbara Woyt does. It is Eriophyllum staechadifolium or lizard tail, also known as Seaside Woolly Sunflower. Is it part of the display on Mt. Manuel? Get out there soon, as this display won’t last long in this hot weather! And send those photos in! Let’s all find out what is causing this unusual display! Thanks, Joe, for the challenge. Now let’s see if my readers are up for it!
(Note, this photo was not taken for the challenge, or it would be a closer shot. Here, I wanted the hills and ocean in the background, but a good photo for this challenge would clearly show the flowers AND the leaves for identification purposes as close-up as your camera would allow.)

5 thoughts on “A challenge

  1. Hi Kate
    I live on North Coast Ridge Road.
    Most of the yellow flowers from that photo are a low growing shrub called Deerweed,
    according to a local landscaper.
    We spent the 4th July looking through the botanical books and this stuff
    is an air born seed thing that occurs after fires according to the wildflower book
    we found it in.It is around anyway but not in such large quantities. The entire backcountry was full of it in the sun areas especially.
    There is also Yarrow and Sticky Monkey as you have already said.
    We also were talking about Jeff at that gathering as well and he is missed by all.

  2. This is what Dave wrote on FB: “Dave Egbert I took a good look and found a mix of monkey flower (mimulus), deer weed (lotus) and golden yarrow (eriophyllum)” Since he is fire-safe gardener, I tend to trust his evaluation of this. Others have also pointed to the deer weed as the largest contributor to the color show.

  3. Lizard-Tail (Eriophyllum jepsonii) is indeed one of the more prominent yellow flowers currently blooming close to the coast. Higher in the hills it tends to give way to the very similar Golden Yarrow (E. confertiflorum). The yellow deer weed (Lotus scoparius) was the favorite of Jeff Norman’s bees (who made delicious Big Sur honey from it). The Mimulus contributing to the yellow hills is mainly Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), although Common Monkey Flower (M. guttatus) is also growing in places where the ground is damp, and higher up on the hills the Santa Lucia Sticky Monkeyflower (M. aurantiacus var. bifidus) can be found. Common Madia (Madia elegans) is also contributing to the yellowness in some places, as are Yellow Bush Lupine (Lupinus arboreus), various mustards, and who knows what all else.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.