Spring in California

Today we took the children to Table Mountain, a volcanic mesa in northern California.

It is a special place, preserved from development by the dense, rocky texture of the soil- no good for farming. We strolled through carpets of flowers Lasthenia californica (California goldfields). Blemnosperma nanum (yellow carpet), Lupinus nanus, Triteleia ixiodies (pretty face), Castilleja exserta (purple owls clover), Triphysaria eriantha (Jonnytuck or Butter 'n' eggs), Eschscholzia caespitosa, (foothill poppy), popcorn flower and gaze at the box kites flying overhead. The blue, grey and white match the darkening sky.

From here, 1000 feet above the valley floor, you can see the Sutter Buttes, the entire valley and the coast range just beyond.


We follow the small stream down a steep canyon where it spills into a pool of water full of California newts and Pacific tree frogs. The children dodge the poison oak to capture and release the animals, investigate the kangaroo rate burrows and make small dams in the stream. A bald eagle flies overhead. The cliff walls are covered in spike moss, gold-backed fern (Pentagramma triangularis), Sidalcea calycosa, Aristolochia californica, Dudleya cymosa, a tiny monkey flower and Galium parisiense (bedstraw; the same weed I have been pulling out of my garden all week),

And a brand new flower for me: a small herb with green fruit shaped like small perforated frisbees. What is it? Some kind of Brassicaeas? Yes. I look it up. It is Thysanocarpus curvipes (fringepod). A perfect seed to make a pair of earrings for a 10 year old.

Further down the canyon, we walk under California buckeye (Aesculus californica) and valley oak (Quercus lobata). Along the stream we see Nemophila heterophylla, Limnanthes douglasii (meadowfoam), Linanthus bicolor, Claytonia perfoliata, Mimulus guttatus, and floating in the water: Ranunculs aquatilis va. hispidulus (water buttercup).






Californians like to move up in elevation from spring to late summer. Last weekend we walked through the vernal pools at Jepson prairie, this weekend we are 1000 Feet higher. By the end of the summer we will be on top of Mt Tallac in the Sierra Nevada. Even in late August we are sure to find spring there.

It starts to rain. It is time to go home. The children walk barefoot through the mud and flowers back to the car. Along the road on the steep hills, we spy a final treat-my favorite flower, Calochortus albus (white globe lily).


In 1.5 hours, we are home again. The garden is freshly mulched, with massive amounts of weeds pulled and fed to the hens. The irrigation is turned on. We are ready for the summer heat.

Raoul rode his bike to the farm to pick some strawberries. We fetch some eggs to make strawberry shortcake using a recipe from my tattered yellowed copy of Laurel's Kitchen.

Hiking, botanizing, cooking and eating strawberry shortcake. Sure beats sitting on an airplane bound for WA DC or NYC- something I will be doing a lot of the next few months.

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I think it would be really cool to go to Table Mountain! The way you described it, along with the pictures, makes it seem like a gorgeous place. While I was reading the part of the post where you were talking about the flowers that you saw, and you mentioned Triphysaria eriantha Johnny tuck, I realized that I had never heard of that flower before. I looked up some stuff about it and found why I wouldnât be familiar with that flower. It is native to California and it grows in some areas bordering California. I also found another nickname for it, and I donât know if youâre familiar with it but it is butter ânâ eggs. I saw a picture of it and it is a interesting and pretty flower.

By Brittany L. (not verified) on 26 Apr 2011 #permalink

I really enjoyed reading this. It told me different stuff about flowers I didn't know about. I was reading through part of it, and I ntocied I havent really heard of any of these flowers. I think I might research them, and find out the information I don't know. I've always wanted to go to California, but I never knew what it'd be like there. Now I know there are very many wonderful things in the Spring time. There were beautiful flowers, that I learned about. I look forward to reading more about these posts.

By Bre Henry (not verified) on 26 Apr 2011 #permalink

I think this article was interesting because there are many different flowers and it's very georgouse in the summer of california. I like the summer alot and I like flowers too so this article made me know a little more about them both.

By Kyriana M (not verified) on 26 Apr 2011 #permalink

I think post is very interesting!

This post was very interesting. It told me alot about flowers i didnt even know about. This reminds me how much I love summer!This was a great post.

@Brittany. Yes, Johnny Tuck is also called Butter 'n' eggs I have added that in as well. Thanks for the reminder.

This blog was nicely put but its about to be spring everywhere else to. California is a beuatiful state with cool plants and creatures but when spring comes everywhere is beuatiful as well.

This blog was nicely put but its about to be spring everywhere else to.


I really enjoyed this blg. The flowers names in California, they have some names i didnt know about!It is a very pretty place. This place make me miss the summer and not the rain. Its a beautiful place. I would love to live here!!!

This blog was pretty interesting. It really caught my eye with all the different flowers that you have compared to the ones where I was from. The one flower that I absolutely like is definitely the Calochortus albus.

By Nathanial B. (not verified) on 27 Apr 2011 #permalink

Spring must be really beautiful in California. The flowers are really pretty and their names are different. With all the wonderful places and the natural habitat that is in California must be something else from spring to the end of summer.
Destiny E.

By Destiny E. (not verified) on 27 Apr 2011 #permalink

This part of California sounds gorgeous. I have cousins in California and they tell me what its like there, but those pictures put into a different perspective. My aunt owns a greenhouse, but her flowers never look that pretty. It makes me wish to move there to take in the beauty that is there.