Springtime Enchantment

A clump of Trillium albidum in the S2 woodland with North Coast Semaphore Grass, Pleuropogon hooverianus, growing around it.
Two young Black-tailed deer enjoy the cool woodland habitat.
The lush green of the Trillium, Cow parsnip, Semaphore grass, and other native plants under the Valley oaks in the S2, Arkelian woodland.
Here you can see the pink-purple at the base of the large white petals of the Trillium albidum, Giant White Wakerobin.
A Pacific Chorus Treefrog, Psuedacris regilla, hiding the leaves of Pacific sanicle, Sanicula crassicaulis.

​April 5, 2021

Today is a typical spring day, blue sky and puffy white clouds rolling by. The lack of rain is always on my mind but it is a beautiful day, and I am out exploring the S1 and S2 parcels of the mitigation project which we call Plasma. There are two woodlands I have talked about in the past that fill with a beautiful wildflower display this time of the year. The largest population of the Giant White Wakerobin or Trillium albidum I have ever seen is in one of the woodlands. This was not the case when we began to manage this area in 2016. These woodlands were filled with dense thickets of Himalayan blackberry, Poison oak, and woody debris. We have been working at clearing these and opening the forest floor to encourage and enhance the population of the threatened native grass North Coast Semaphore grass, Pleuropogon hooverianus. This marvelous grass has done well with the removal of the blackberry and debris and happily many other native plants have benefited from the increased access to sunlight. The Giant White Wakerobin is the most outstanding with its large, white three petaled flowers, sessile on the large heart-shaped leaves. There are some that have pink to purple color radiating from the base of the white petals or on the leaves. Each grouping is elegant and wonderful. In my research I learned it is a rhizomatous plant that spreads mostly by its roots and can take three to five years before blooming at all. As I look out at the hundreds of these plants mixed in with the semaphore grass, I wonder if they evolved together to live in these Oak woodlands.

In the middle of the forest, I see a family of Black-tailed deer moving quietly through, even stopping to lay in the flowers. They are wary of me, keeping their eyes on me as they nibble their way past. I hear many birds above me singing or calling as I make my way into the bright sunlight. At my feet is a Pacific Chorus Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla, one of the most common amphibians in the west. This little amphibian is found all over Little Lake Valley, sometimes making it hard to walk through the wet fields! Right now, it can be deafening when a group of them begin croaking their springtime chorus song. Another interesting thing about Pacific treefrogs is that some of them have been found to be able to change color from light to dark. This is a process that can take a few days to a few weeks due to seasonal changes which made me think of Artic hares that turn from dark to white when winter comes. This is something that needs further study!

As I walk out into the wet meadow grassland surrounding the woods, I feel how entirely different this environment is. There is an open blue sky above my head and unchecked sunlight warms my face and shrinks my pupils. There are no Trilliums that grow out in the open and grasses dominate the landscape with buttercups showing their yellow petals above them. Each habitat is important and full of life, each fills a niche for the wildlife and plants that depend on and live in them.

It is a wonderous world to learn from!