Edgewood Park and Nature Preserve with Michael – 27 March 2017

It all began with a walk in the woods. The hike led by Mable Crittendon in April 1975 of the then recently formed Santa Clara Valley California Native Plant Society “foreshadowed involvement in a conservation effort that has continued to this day . . .” Fremontia, October 1990. The area had been acquired by the State of California in 1967 as a potential state college site. Later in 1975, the San Francisco PUC proposed the land for recreational use including a golf course. Then in 1979 San Mateo County purchased the land for about two million dollars. County supervisors approved a master plan for an 18-hole golf course and certified an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in 1982. The California Native Plant Society filed a lawsuit challenging the EIR in 1983 which was settled out-of-court affirming that “sensitive habitats would be given protection”. In 1992, two-thirds of Edgewood Park were set aside for a natural preserve with one-third to be considered for the golf course.” Finally, in the summer of 1993 the county supervisors concluded that “the parts of the park flat enough to support a golf course were also the same parts that contained the protected species. The Natural Preserve declaration in 1993 protected the entire park from future development.”

http://www.cnps.org/cnps/publications/fremontia/fremontia_36-1.pdf This 2008 issue of Fremontia, the magazine of the California Native Plant Society details the remarkable serpentine habitats with a focus on Edgewood and its history in articles by Carolyn Curtis and Donald Mayall. It’s a treasure trove of information about this area: the fight to save it, the “special status” plants at Edgewood, the efforts to reintroduce the Bay Checkerspot butterfly to Edgewood after its loss in that area, the Save Edgewood Park Coalition of friends, Committee for the Green Foothill and local chapters of the Sierra Club and Audubon Society working together saved this area. Superb writing by Carolyn Curtis in the Edgewood article. She outlines an approach to find another area for development which ultimately was viewed as an unacceptable compromise in the fight for Edgewood. Always good to have a “Plan B”
http://www.friendsofedgewood.org/edgewood-county-park – Brief overview of the park’s unique ecology and history
https://baynature.org/article/serpentine-splendor/ – Bay Nature article from April 2004 by Carolyn J. Strange that is written with a fine, accessible style – is fun to read and thorough in content.
http://www.greenfoothills.org/projects/history-edgewood-park/ 2003 PG & E threat with a new transmission line successfully protested and after a year the California State PUC required the under grounding of the lines. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”.


Gathering in the morning at our 10 AM rendezvous time on a day that originally had some rain in the forecast but happily showed us a sunnier side.

Inge and her husband, Don, come down to Edgewood more frequently than the rest of us so Michael asked her to point out some highlights along our way.

Mission Bells or Checker Lily along the trail (Fritillaria affinis) – Remy Parker comments that it is well camouflaged with the brown of this plant blending into its background, that you need to look carefully to find it. The bell shape tends to be challenging to photograph and here Kit helps me to get a view that works. Parker writes, “Color varies greatly and can be yellowish or greenish brown with yellow mottling to purplish black with little mottling, or yellow green mottled with purple. A plant that makes life interesting for botanists.” She captions her photo poetically, “Mission Bells, the sound in the forest no one’s around to hear.”

There are 10 basic trails on the 467 acre park footprint that are clear and well maintained with regular trail markers. Initially, we were walking on the Edgewood Trail through a shaded oak woodland. http://parks.smcgov.org/edgewood-park-trails

We went by a couple of dusky-footed woodrat “fortress style stick houses”. “In 2014, one Friends of Edgewood docent counted 345 woodrat houses visible from the Exercise Loop. (Sylvan Trail, Franciscan Trail, Baywood Glen Trail)!” http://www.friendsofedgewood.org/dusky-footed-woodrat

How eek, a dusky-footed wood rat, came into the life of the author of this blog. http://eekosphere.net/?q=node/14


Out of the woods in open grassland we stop to appreciate some Narrow-leaved Mule Ears in bloom (Wyethia angustifolia) in the Sunflower family and Michael talks about the plant’s anatomy. Other Mule Ear variations are Coast Mule Ears (Wyethis glabra) and Gray Mule Ears (Wyethia helenioides). The Santa Cruz Mountains are on the horizon and below is a slice Interstate 280. Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth’s name is a part of this genus and he is best known in botany for his discovery of the Mule Ears plants. Living in America in 1833 would have given him ample opportunity to compare the flora with some passing fauna. Wyeth came to the West coast with the idea of setting up a fur trapping business but at the same time collected plant specimens. He sent them to Thomas Nuttall who was an Englishman lecturing in natural history at Harvard. Nuttall must have been impressed because he resigned his post in 1834 and joined Wyeth’s party in the West. “It was Nuttall who wrote up the botanical description of Wyethia, naming the plant in honor of its first collector.” Edgewood Explorer, June 2001, P.2

We remember him for the Mule Ears but he was many other life accomplishments as well being the great-great-great-great-grandfather of the famous painter Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Jarvis_Wyeth

Following the pattern of the sunflower, “Ray florets are flowers with long, traplike petals along the outside of the sunflower. Each petal on the outside of a sunflower is a flower. Disc florets are the flowers tightly clustered together inside the ray florets. The ray florets are unable to reproduce by themselves because they are missing one or more sex organs. The disc florets possess both male and female reproductive organs.”

We discover another rare bloom in this area just off the trail, the Balding Tennis Ball Plant (Et capillus calvescere). Actually, I think it must be a serious marker for a plant easily lost track of in the surrounding grasses. Any other ideas?

The pineapple weed was the plant of the day in the “Flowers of Marin” blog (May 3, 2014) that, sadly, is currently on hiatus. “Pineapple weed (Matricaria discoidea) is an unobtrusive plant; it grows up through cracks in the sidewalk, or along hard-packed roadsides. … The composite flower heads look like small yellow-green pincushions, earning the name. This is a native to both northwestern North America and northeastern Asia.”
The blog’s author, Jacoba Charles, describes her inspiration to “Write about one new plant every day for a year. Common name, scientific name, plus whatever fun facts I stumbled across.” https://flowersofmarin.wordpress.com/about/
I’ve found the site most accessible and quite addictive. She has a wealth of information well organized and a great backpack full of helpful links.
She co-authored THE LIGHT ON THE COAST with David Mitchell published in 2013.

Purple Owl’s Clover (Castilleja exserta) thrives in the serpentine soil of Edgewood and is a “crucial host plant for the Bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis), endemic to the San Francisco Bay region in California, and a threatened species in the state.”

Michael pointed out a vole trail in the grass. There are pages of references on the net about controlling and “getting rid” of voles but few about appreciating them. Here’s an interesting one that at least talks about natural predation and the tell tale trail voles lead that shows up in ultra violet light – Michael has mentioned this a number of times.

Royal Larkspur (Delphinium variegatum ssp. variegatum) Buttercup family. Reny Parker writes, “Commonly found on grassy hillsides or open woods, this beautiful Royal Larkspur has very large flowers. The flowers consist of five sepals, the upper one with a prominent spur resembling a dolphin or the spur of a bird. The flower is usually a deep royal purple, but there are rare variations of white or lavender.” p.170 “Wildflowers of Northern California…”
The Marin County town of Larkspur was founded in 1908. “The English-born wife of an early developer mistook lupine for larkspur and named the town accordingly”.
But I haven’t heard of any efforts to rename it Lupine. How about catching the Golden Gate Ferry to San Francisco from Lupine Landing?

An Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) next greeted us atop the shubbery and gave us time to appreciate his emerald green against cerulean blue. We fastened our eyes hoping to see his red head flash in the sunshine. When he finally burst into flight, there was a chorus of ahhs from the group.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdmTBjhZmyc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlyBPa95_Mg

Here’s that picnic with a view that we missed on 3/20/17 with that incoming storm at Crockett. We’re looking down on Redwood City and south San Francisco Bay.

We were occasionally aware of the flight path leading to San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0Y6GTI9pg4 View from the cockpit of a KLM 747 from August 17, 2008 approaching and landing at SFO.
http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/08/08/flight-path-noise-residents-fight-changes-in-sfo-approach/ Another view.

Heading back to the barn we started descending on the Sylvan Trail and found some Kellogg’s Yampah (Perideridia kelloggii) along the way. I think this plant was just about to flower into its white color. Carolyn Curtis in her NPS 2008 article describes it as “a showy, long-lived perennial that favors seasonally moist habitat.” These areas are frequently overrun with invasive exotic plants and in this place Ox Tongue (Picris echioides), a non-native plant with those warty leaves (not Ox Tongue Lily [Haemanthus coccineus] an exotic from South Africa). Kellogg’s Yampah is a favorite of the Bay checkerspot.
http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=6499 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perideridia

Walking down the trail Harriet and the rest of us spotted a phenomenal rock, a sandstone monolith on a hilltop in the midst of suburbia – the Emerald Hills subdivision in Redwood City. She loves to read maps and gave a name to what we’d been wondering about. It’s called Handley Rock Park and is a privately owned park that is open to the public and seeming on the edge of Edgewood Park. Harriet found this link about rock climbing there.

We spotted some poison oak plants that were ready to bloom or are these the already forming poison oak berries? Their vigor was daunting. I’d never seen this flowering part in the poison oak’s life but apparently it is the female plant after 3 years producing blooms that become berries. The whitish-green berries can be seen late in the summer. I’d always put poison oak in an isolated mental (and physical) category – the exotic invader, so I was amazed to realize at last that it’s a native plant!
http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7431.html http://www.poison-ivy.org/pacific-poison-oak – great photos of poison oak’s variety with helpful commentary

A refreshing stream along our way came just at the right time cooling us down toward the end of the hike.

This is the only park we’ve hiked in that provided a mud-cleaner for your shoes. In looking it up I found it’s called a Scrusher boot and shoe brush. Here Lisa enjoys this unique opportunity.

The Edgewood Sign notes the Bill and Jean Lane Education Center where staff and volunteers provide directions, information and flower identification from there website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODYRV8EgGrA Bill and Jean Lane were noted for their quiet philanthropy throughout this area and beyond.
http://www.pv.beaucamera.com/bill-and-jean-lane/ http://news.stanford.edu/news/2010/august/bill-lane-obituary-080210.html
The Edgewood interpretive signs are numerous and provide an introduction to the area highlighting special features.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordilleras_Creek In the third photo Inge talks with the docent about a flower identification. And last, it seems the next generation has arrived for the afternoon shift.

P.S. 6 March 2017 – Roy’s Redwoods – 4.6 miles, 10,842 steps and 32 floors
13 March 2017 – Closed Highway 1 – 5.6 miles, 12,182 steps and 8 floors
20 March 2017 – Crocket Hills Regional Park – 4.6 miles, 10,387 steps and 41 floors
27 March 2017 – Edgewood Park and Preserve – 6.3 miles, 13,730 steps and 28 floors

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