Nature Notebook, June 7, 2018

06/07/2018

Low tides continue during the morning daylight hours through the new moon on June 13, with the following Friday and Saturday mornings at the lowest points. Summer low tides present much larger beaches that will be carved away by winter tides.

Rain and sun cycles create varying conditions each year, sometimes earlier flowerings and later berries. This year, the first berries are already here: thimbleberries, or “tolpas,” in Coast Miwok. They have large leaves and five-petaled white flowers growing in shady areas. The berries are bright scarlet, tart and, when picked, are cupped like a sewing thimble. They are also high in vitamin C. Coast Miwok Tom Smith described them as “pretty good to eat.”

Buckeye trees are now in bloom, with light pinkish-brown tall spikes of flowers. Lupines, the last of the wildflowers, are blooming as the hillside grasses continue to brown. Rattlesnake grass, also called “quaking” grass, is abundant along Limantour Road. The seed pods of this North African and Portuguese grass look like the defensive rattle of a rattlesnake.

Summer also brings the return of snowy plover protective measures, including the temporary closure at Limantour Beach. Weekend and federal holiday closures began this past weekend along the Great Beach between Abbotts Lagoon and North Beach. Maps of protected areas available at nps.gov/pore.