Monday, May 24, 2010

Hike on the Hazelnut Trail

We had a little difficulty finding San Pedro Valley County Park, which contains the Hazelnut Trail, but only because we got off on the wrong exit in Pacifica and had a tour of the homes on Reina del Mar before making our way to Linda Mar and San Pedro. The Hazelnut Trail zigzags up the side of Montara Mountain through thickets of ceanothus, manzanita, California huckleberry, and other more exotic shrubs, and under old coast live oaks, bay trees and, of course, California hazelnut. Occasionally you can peer over the brush at the ocean or the other side of the valley, but much of the hike is through an overgrown green tunnel (and watch out for the poison oak.) My husband picked the hike, since it was about the right distance for a hike under two hours, and also because it has a ridiculous diversity of plant life. This partial list he found online by a botanist at Stanford of 68 plant species seen on this trail helped me narrow down some of the unfamiliar plants I took photos of on the hike. And there are many more that I just didn't have time to snap since we were trying to finish within 2 hours. We saw many lovely Douglas iris, sticky monkey flower, paintbrush, ferns and manroot (also known as wild cucumber).
Here are some of the plants that were new to me:
Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia calycina)
Berries of False Solomon's Seal (Smilacine racemosa var amplexicaulis) turning from green to red. Love those stripes!
Fringe cups (Tellima grandiflora), named because those little bells are fringed like eyelashes.
Pacific starflower (Trientalis latifolia), which grow in a starry carpet in shady bowers.
Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum), a shrubby plant up to 4 or 5 feet tall that seems to be well-loved by hummingbirds. We noticed the sooty older leaves covered by a fungus that apparently does not harm the plant.
Along with the plant list, I relied heavily on the Native Plants of Montara Mountain website, that is organized by flower and berry color, as well as by common and Latin names. Now I want to go do the hike again and find all the plants I missed, like the rare golden chinquapin and fetid adder's tongue. Speaking of adders, we saw three garter snakes (harmless).

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