2016 Field Trip Report: Elsinore Peak & S Main Divide Road [3/21/2016]
Almost twenty individuals joined us for the first day of Spring. And we celebrated be seeing many Wildflowers and enjoying the great botany and interesting natural history of the Elsinore Peak area of the Southern Santa Ana Mountains.
After a thorough debriefing and shoe and clothing check to remove any weed seeds or fragments we began with an introduction to the area, it's brief geological history and its significance and relationship to the Bette known area of The Santa Rosa Plateau. We botanized a bit of the grassland, oak woodland and chaparral just west of South Main Divide, then crossed the road and travelled along the old roadway of South Main Divide (before it was re-routed many years ago). We also searched around "Onion Hill" and discussed rarities such as Hammitt's rockcress (Siberopsis hammittii), which was discovered here and named as both a new species and new genus as recently as the 1990's.
After the Elsinore Peak area the group drove back down South Main Divide Road and stopped at the Morgan Trailhead where we visited the site of the Falls fire. This is out third visit to this area and it is most interesting to see fire ecology in action as the forest recovers. From a rather closed canopy of chaparral, the area was burned completely. The following spring, in spite of intensely low rainfall, the entire area was dense with annual fire-following plants. Last year's visit saw a reduction of those be perhaps 50%. This year that reduction was even more pronounced as the annuals are now giving way to the woody perennials and the sub-shrubs and shrubs.
We played a game and offered an award to anyone who could locate a fire poppy (Papaver californicum). two years ago there were thousands and last year's there were at least hundreds here. But even after an exhaustive search we could not locate a single fire poppy. The seeds are still present, by the thousands, but they will lie dormant, perhaps for decades until the time is right once again.