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August 2, 2016

Dear Skyliners,


We'll be taking a one day, mid-week holiday on Wednesday, and back to regular hours this Sunday at 9:30.  Please let me know if you can make it.


We continue removing the mother of all Scattergrass colonies.  We're three sessions in to it, and maybe 30% done, so we're going to be at it for awhile.  The good news is that the hike in is stunning - a mile in over hill and dale in some of the wildest country in the Bay Hills.  The setting is stunning, too, a grove of twisty Bays atop a rocky ridge. If you love rocks with lichen, you have to see the area.


And, we've found three new species for our Skyline list.


- Red Fescue (Festuca rubra) has blue-grey foliage, but this one is a runner, so it makes patches.  Festuca idahoensis, which also grows at Skyline, has similar colored foliage, but makes big clumps of stumpy toe stubbers.  The location is right on the east edge of the big Oak/Bay grove where we're weeding Scattergrass.  Interestingly, there is one clump of F. idahoensis (not shown here) next to the patch of rubra, so you can see the two side-by-side there.  Red Fescue is more of a coastal species, and uncommon on the East Bay.  This species is listed on our East Bay CNPS data base of Rare and Unusual Plants, Category B.


Here is a close up, which shows the patchy (rhizomatous) aspect of Red Fescue (F. rubra):

Here is a shot showing the setting.  This patch grows right at the north side of a Live Oak just east of the ridge crest, within the tree's drip line.  The oak catches enough fog drip to provide the extra moisture that this more mesic (moisture loving) species requires.  In the background, you can see the bright, yellow-green of our nemesis, Scattergrass (Erharta erecta). 

- Gray Pine - Pinus sabiniana - one mature tree growing above the north road cut along Hwy 24, just to the east of the Tunnel, where Fish Ranch Rd runs as a frontage road.  Way out of it's range here, but it is for real, a 30 foot, multi-trunked specimen loaded with cones..  Grey or Foothill Pine is common inland, often growing with Blue Oaks.  For it to be found here, so close to the coast is really unusual.  Who knows how it got here.  This is what birders would call a waif.


- Monterey Pine - Pinus radiata - these are seeding and spreading in the Fish Ranch road area.  While not strictly considered an East Bay Native, the Regional Parks lists have it because it is a native, so we list it, too.  Interestingly, there are fossil records of Monterey Pine growing in the East Bay during recent Ice Ages.  


I have always felt that the best way to find and learn new plants is to go out weeding.  This proved true again.  We're now up to 236 species.


Happy Trails,



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