Saturday, September 1, 2012

20 Minutes and a Field Guide

 I am trying valiantly to carve out a little time here and there to do things that aren't just trying to get stuff done.  On Friday I took a little ramble around our property with a field guide and tried to identify a few of the common plants we have growing in abundance.  I decided I'd like to know that those oaks are California Black Oaks, that the little oak shrub is a Curl-Leaf Shrub Oak (according to one source, but Google doesn't seem to agree - need to do some more searching about that one.  And what a creative name!), and the evergreen oaks are Interior Live Oaks.  Knowing these names is deeply satisfying.

I did get into a bit of a quandary though when I tried to identify the two types of wild blackberries we have growing on our property.  I believe the one below on the right is the native Californian blackberry, and the one on the left is cutleaf evergreen blackberry, an invasive species from Europe.  I took a little walk this evening (see, trying!) and I was able to sample both types of berries.  I think I like the cutleaf ones better - the flavor is a little more complex and interesting, even if they are tarter and smaller.  And do you see the spider on the gaillardia flower above?  Thanks to Google, I think that's a flower spider (another creative name!), also known as a crab spider or banana spider.  They camouflage with the flower to lie in wait for pollinators.  Given how many bees visit those flowers, I think they have found excellent hunting grounds!