Our first field trip of the year greeted a large group of 33 CNPS members and friends for an easy and friendly experience. Lots of special folks participated and it made the visit even that much more fun and educational. Bob Allen, author of "Wildflowers of Orange County and the Santa Ana Mountains" was especially helpful as he explained many hidden secrets about several of the plants that we saw. Bob is one of the most well known, knowledgeable and friendly naturalists and native plant experts in Southern California. Also along for the ride were chapter board members Dan Songster, Dori Ito and Celia Kutcher. Long standing board member Sarah Jayne was also in attendance. Sarah is currently being honored as a CNPS "Fellow", the highest honor bestowed by our state organization - and the first ever recipient from the Orange County chapter. Congratulations Sarah and thank you for your many years of dedication.
We were also glad to see Allan Schoenherr, author of the seminal book on California's natural history, "A Natural History of California", as well as the Orange County Natural History book that every member should have on their bookshelf, titled "Wild and Beautiful, A Natural History of Orange County". Allan is recently retired after 50 years as Professor of Ecology at Fulerton College, and as an instructor at Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.
The day was perfect, mostly light breezes and clear skies. The ridge offerred exceptional views of Santa Catalina Island and San Clemente Island. As we walked the ridgetop we stopped frequently to elaborate about the plants and their ecology. We identified plants as we went and explained several characters of the more confusing or interesting species. We also invested time to discuss some of the other issues in which define our native plants, especially the stresses of summer drought and fire regimes and the adaptations that these plants have developed to survive with these pressures.
As we walked the ridge we also pointed out invasive non-native plants and seperated those from the endemic native plants. At least once we stopped to elaborate on this topic and explain the role that each of us can play in helping to detect and report new occurrances of high priority exotic-invasive plants. Orange County CNPS is currently developing its focus in this area and has titled their effort "Emergant Invasive Plant Management". Stay tuned for more on this important topic.
Los Trancos ridge is primarily composed of a classic coastal sage scrub plant community and a few of the highlight plants seen today were Bigpod Ceanothus (in full bloom), California bricklebush (with its soft new growth), emerging rosettes of wavy-leaved soap plant, the parasitic plant California dodder (which a few people tasted), three species of lupines and the long-blooming and colorful bladderpod. For a complete inventory of the plants seen, click the "Plants Seen" tab.