Nature Notebook, May 9, 2019

05/09/2019

The late-night sparklers, the Eta Aquarids, remain active through May 28, but will be drowned out by the full moon on May 18, which also brings extreme low tides in early mornings. Across North America, this moon has many names associated with flowering and planting, and many calendars suggest it is the best time to plant medicinal herbs for maximum potency.

Additional rains have spurred high grass growth this year, and as grasses begin drying out, we must remember that fire season is around the corner. The high growth can obscure some wildflower blooms, such as the smaller sky lupines and poppies. Bush lupines are blooming throughout the elk reserve and Pierce Point Road areas in yellows, lavenders and blues. Ceanothus shrubs are also having a banner year, their clouds of pale blue blossoms seen along the south end of the Estero Trail and Limantour Road.

Madrone or Manzanita? These two red-barked plants are often confused; madrones have curls of peeling bark while manzanita grows low (and has over 40 species in the state!). Madrone trees along Limantour Road have long sprays of ivory bells in flower; manzanitas have singular, pale pink bells.