29. Spring on Mt. Tam

Spring for me is a time to get out and see beautiful California native plant habitats while they are at their best with fresh new growth and flowers.  I was fortunate to be able to make a visit to amazing Mount Tamalpais yesterday and discovered the steep hills completely flush with wildflowers, so I just had to share some photos!

I guess the recent rain we got has given the Poppies and Lupines an extra boost when they needed it.  I have been worried that the overall lack of rain this spring would prevent any really good wildflower displays, but not on Mt. Tam.  It helps that the peak is naturally well-positioned right on the coast to catch a lot of rain from the storms coming across the Pacific.  The result is what I think of as an iconic California native plant combination at its best.

The native perennial wildflowers California Poppy and Sky Lupine make an excellent pair with their complementary colors and contrasting flower forms and leaves (Botanical names: Eschscholzia californica and Lupinus nanus).  They come up amongst a few different species of native grasses.

Yes, that entire slope is covered with Poppies! (click on smaller images to enlarge)

Hiking into the woodsy north slope of Tam, we see some other fantastic native wildflowers, the Pacific Coast Iris (Iris douglasiana) with its work-of-art painted petals, pictured above.  Below is the Calypso Orchid (Calypso bulbosa), a small plant that can be hard to pick out of the forest floor, but worth looking at up close for its delicate beauty.

It really is amazing how close Mount Tamalpais is to all of us Bay Area residents, a very steep mountain that rises above it all for some truly stellar views.  Note the skyscrapers of downtown San Francisco in the upper center of the shot below.

Get up there soon and drink in the sublime and sacred beauty yourself!

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