Good Year for Balsamroot

Balsamroot DSC_0779[1]

The balsamroot plants on our ranch are having a good season. They like the open grassland mostly on north-facing slopes near the top of ridges. It’s easy to think they’re mules ear from a distance as the flowers are so similar, but up close it’s easy to differentiate between the two as their leaves are nothing like the large leaves that give mules ear its name.

We had a lot of rain this year and there’s more balsamroot blooming than I’ve ever seen before.

Here’s a link to more information about this uncommon plant which can be found in the east bay hills.

Photos of the Week

Here are a few of the best photos of the past week.

Ran into some great wildflowers at the ranch and photographed a horned lark surrounded by wildflowers. The light could have been better, but here is what I got.horned lark singing and wildflowers DSC_0181 cropped

lark bee and wildflowers DSC_0199 cropped

In the second photo a bee jumped in.

Spotted an eagle and red-tailed hawk soaring together. The red-tail was harassing the eagle.

eagle and redtail DSC_0168eagle and redtail DSC_0169 cropped

Here’s a blowup which demonstrates how much larger an eagle is than a red-tail.

Got a couple good turkey photos today. Here’s one of them.


Snow Plant

This snow plant has just popped from the ground.

Snow Plant (Sarcodes sanguinea Torr.) This plant is a fungi that feeds off the roots of conifers.

While returning from shopping in Susanville, I drove a back road and came upon an area loaded with snow plants. They pop from the ground in spring shortly after the snow melts and are quite beautiful. My Grandmother used to point them out whenever she spotted one.

Here’s a photo of a bunch of plants that are more mature, but also a little fried from sunlight. They don’t last too long in the sun and are found in the pine needles underneath large conifers.

Group of snow plants.

The Mariposa Lilly

This beauty is a ranch favorite. Comes in a yellow version and white version.

It’s not a great year for wildflowers at the ranch, but it is a great year for grass. The annual grasses are about three feet tall, but they have shaded out many of the flowers.

On an walk down the canyon running through our property we did manage to find quite a few flowers still in bloom. One of them was the Mariposa Lily.

Here’s the white version.

Hard to say which is more beautiful.

Nature Quiz

Took a little trip to the ranch this week and came home with photos of a few early spring wildflowers. They’re not your run of the mill favorites and I didn’t know for sure the names of any of them. Nor did I know the name of the only butterfly species I found.

Therefore you can take the quiz and don’t feel bad if you can’t name these. The plants were all less than a foot tall and the flowers all less then the diameter of a nickel.

Here you go. As I figure them out I’ll post them. You can also comment with your answers if you like. Maybe it will help my research.

1. another-white-wildflower

2. chaparal-butterfly-3-2009

3. prominent-white-flower

4. purple-and-yellow-wildflower-3-2009

5. purple-flower-3-2009

Ok. There you go. Of course I have the advantage because I saw them in person. I’ll be refering to the guide books and also my biologist friend, but my brother may already know them all as he’s on top of this stuff.