Nature Notebook, March 28, 2019


Moderate tides of 5 feet and less are easing coastal erosion and making for pleasant beach walking. As spring gets underway, a new moon rises on April 5. 

Wildflower season is also underway, with early species continuing and middle-season blooms such as poppy and iris beginning. Like the press coverage of elephant seals, there has been much attention to large wildflower displays in Southern California. On Point Reyes, it’s more subtle: the largest displays are typically masses of bush lupines blossoming later in the season on Tomales Point and at the lighthouse, along with some fields of Douglas iris that spread across the Estero Trail. Flowers that produce large displays are often introduced European and Mediterranean species, like the bright-yellow mustard, pale-lavender wild radish and the light-blue forget-me-nots. These species self-sow, sometimes crowding out native species. Also opening are the leaves of California buckeye trees.

One dramatically colored South African bloom has been drawing particular attention: the bright-orange, yellow- and black-centered harlequin flower (Sparaxis). Point Reyes National Seashore staff are mapping locations of this plant and asking for help from the public. If you note it on park explorations, email Ellen at