Ten enthusiastic members met briefly in San Juan Capistrano and then made the 90 minute drive to our destination at the base of McGinty Mountian, which is about 6-7 miles SE of El Cajon and about 13 miles N of the Mexico border. Jonathan Frank was our outstanding guide and knew just where to take us and made sure we did not miss a single plant. Immediately out of our cars, we began noticing the unique flora of the area, which includes an odd blend of coastal taxa (such as Adenostoma fasciculatum var. obtusifolium), inland plants and Mexican specialties (like Bahiopsis laciniata, Tetracoccus dioicus and Xylococcus bicolor), all mixing. As we travelled slowly up the mountain we stopped again and again to note the many plants that were new to us; not seen in our more familiar Orange County environments.
The plant communities varied as we moved up that mountain and changed from sandstone derived soils, to granitic soils and even sections of gabbro soils. San Diego County is famous for several local endemic or near-endemic plants with very limited distributions and we enjoyed finding some of these as well. For many the rare Dehesa beargrass - Nolina interrata was a highlight. This plant, with its showy blue-gray foliage, only grows on a few hillside in this area. It carries a California Rare Plant Rank (CRPR) of 1B.1. Once near the summit of the mountain we began hunting for the unusual Mountain Misery - Chamaebatia australis., with it odd bright green, fern-like foliage. After a bit of hunting, we found a great patch and were all delighted.
The weather was warm, but beautiful and the plants we outstanding. An impressive 94 species were casually noted.
Following the McGinty Mountain visit, six of the attendees decided to take a trip about six miles north and trek up a hillside adjacent to Flinn Springs County Park. Jonathan had scouted this hillside a year or two prior, so he knew what we would find and we were not disappointed. Along the way, we noted several more rare or unusual plants, including Allium peninsulare, Artemisia palmeri and the unusual fuzzy-leaved Rhamnus pilosa. Soon, we even found of few of the uncommon Cooper's Rein Orchid - Piperia cooperi, which everyone enjoyed. But the highlight of this stop, and the reason for our visit, was a stunning colony of Lakeside Ceanothus - Ceanothus cyaneus. The plants were incredibly showy, probably the most beautiful of all our local California lilacs, with large upright inflorescences of the most beep blue that you could imagine.
It was a magical trip to an area filled with interesting plants. Most of us will be visiting the area again and again. Many thank you's to our mavelous organizer and guide, Jonathan Frank. For a complete list of the plants we noted at both locations click "Plants Seen" on the next tab.