A drive to Carrizo Plain and an isolated thunderstorm over Soda Lake on a hot early September day, 2021

A Big Drive in SLO County, September 9, 2021.

Soon I will be working full time again, so I decided to take a drive to the eastern part of the San Luis Obispo County to see what it looks like in late Summer, and to take in the ever beautiful sky over Carrizo Plain and the adjoining mountains. Also, I wanted to see the Carrizo Plain National Monument eastern end, and see what plants I could find.

I live in the western part of SLO County, and I started on highway 101 south, to east on highway 166. I took a couple of roadside stops, first to look a large patch of Salvia apiana, and then to see the Lepidospartum sqamatum that grows along the road. This highway follows the Cuyama River and associated valley, which is the approximate north-south boundary between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. Thus, I believe, in general, when the road is on the south side of the river, it is in Santa Barbara County, and when 166 is on the north side of the river, it is in SLO County. The gps metadata on my photos seem to support this.

Next I turned onto Soda Lake Road, drove 2 miles to the monument boundary, and had a look at an informational sign about a nearby sag pond caused by the San Andreas Fault. At the parking for this kiosk, I spotted a couple of small Stephanomeria. Lately, I have been trying to learn this Genus using the Jepson eFlora. It is sometimes hard to use, but several factors concerning the pappus had me settle on Stephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua. Along the dried up alkali sink (the sag pond), I found an Atriplex species (I need to study this Genus better), the invasive Tamarix ramosissima, and something in the genus Sueda. There was a very white leaved Astragalus that I have yet to identify. I took a look at the large stands of the Ephedra californica known for this part of the monument and the southern Temblor Range. Isocoma acradenia var. acradenia is flowering all over the valley floor of the monument now.

Next, I drove on Soda Lake road to KCL Campground. When I arrived a Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus was there, and the hot wind was picking up. A Cucurbita palmata was growing near the entrance. I hiked up a small hill to take in the clouds over the plains, and the Caliente Range. This day there were various Cumulus clouds, probably Cumulus humilis, but also later turning into Cumulus congestus. Also higher, beautiful Cirrus clouds were streaked across the sky, along with the ripply Cirrocumulus undulatus. On the hill I found Eriogonum fasciculatum (the white leaf type) and Lagophylla ramosissima.

Then I drove the rest of the way on Soda Lake Road to highway 58, then back to highway 101. Along Soda Lake Road were plenty of Datura wrightii and Isocoma acradenia. The insects, such as Dasymutilla aureola (Pacific Velvet Ant) find a good place to be on Helianthus annuus, the Common Sunflower. Outside of cultivation, the Common Sunflower is actually a wild and native plant. It is mentioned by Robert F. Hoover as being wild in the area in The Vascular Plants of San Luis Obispo County, California. Of course, the common sunflower is cultivated, but it can also be found in the wild. I think the two plants I observed this day were the wild type. The disk flowers are especially beautiful, and the entire head of flowers is always a favorite of mine, whether in cultivation or in the wild. The pattern is fractal like. The Genus Helianthus is from the Americas, with three species native to South America, and the rest native to Central and North America.

To my surprise and delight, a little thunderstorm developed over Soda Lake! I stopped at Soda Lake, and some drops of rain hit my car, and myself. I walked out through the pickleweed shrubs (I need to ID, right now I have it in Subfamily Salicornioideae), and a dust storm with some moisture blew over me. I could see the Cumulus congestus clouds with dark grey sheets of rain over the lake, and later as I drove past the rest of the lake, the storm moved off toward the Temblor Range and left some very wet spots on the road and earth.

I stopped at Shell Creek along highway 58 to photograph Centromadia pungens and Trichostema lanceolatum, and finally near the junction of 229 to photograph Malacothamnus niveus, Artemisia douglasiana, and desiccated Acourtia microcephala. I saw another wild buckwheat along the road, maybe Eriogonum nudum or E. elongatum, but I didn't stop to photograph it!

The entire trip with lunch took about 5.5 hours, but I would normally give myself 6-8 hours to allow more time to stop and look at stuff. It was a big loop around part of San Luis Obispo County!

If you see this, and have any identifications or comments, I appreciate it!

Cheers,

Leif

Anotado por leafybye leafybye, 12 de septiembre de 2021 a las 05:41 PM

Observaciones

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Flor de Borrego (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 02:01 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 02:01 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Sacapellote (Acourtia microcephala)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 02:01 PM PDT

Descripción

cf.

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Agrito (Rhus aromatica)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 02:01 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 02:01 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Descripción

I didn't key it. :)

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 01:43 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 01:43 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Flor de Cal (Frankenia salina)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 01:05 PM PDT

Descripción

Is it Frankenia salina?

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 01:02 PM PDT

Descripción

adjacent Soda Lake

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Girasol (Helianthus annuus)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:54 PM PDT

Descripción

The common sunflower is still a wild and native species. Individuals like this are likely not escaped cultivars in my opinion. The insects find a nectar oasis here. Two individuals observed, one photographed.

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Hormiga de Terciopelo de Baja California (Dasymutilla aureola)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:55 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:51 PM PDT

Descripción

entire leaves, phyllaries not pointy, and number of flowers per head seem to indicate var. acradenia

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Toloache Sagrado (Datura wrightii)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:41 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Calabacilla (Cucurbita palmata)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:36 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:27 PM PDT

Descripción

cf.

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:26 PM PDT

Descripción

cf.

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Flor de Borrego (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:23 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Huizapol (Distichlis spicata)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:22 PM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Canutillo (Ephedra californica)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:06 PM PDT

Descripción

need to determine species

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Placentarios (Infraclase Placentalia)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:43 AM PDT

Descripción

diet of Manzanita berries

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Chamizo del Ganado (Atriplex polycarpa)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:38 AM PDT

Descripción

Atriplex polycarpa?

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Pino Salado Eurasiático (Tamarix ramosissima)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:38 AM PDT

Descripción

adjacent the sag pond

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Romeritos (Suaeda nigra)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:36 AM PDT

Descripción

adjacent the sag pond

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:35 AM PDT

Descripción

very gray/green leaves on this one

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Chamizos Y Armuelles (Género Atriplex)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:35 AM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:34 AM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Cardos Rusos (Género Salsola)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:34 AM PDT

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 11:30 AM PDT

Descripción

annual with taproot. pappus bristles are tan to white, and plumose on the distal, um looks like 50 to 60 %, widened at bases, leaving a crown of scales. number of flowers 4 to 6! I'm going with ssp. exigua because of the white to tan bristles, number of flowers, hsbit and habitat. Other ssp. have white bristles, or are densely glandular. The outer phyllaries are apressed, except for the tips, which are reflexed.

Fotos / Sonidos

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 10:22 AM PDT

Descripción

discoid, about 12 flowers per head

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Salvia Blanca (Salvia apiana)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 10:06 AM PDT

Descripción

there is a large patch along a hillside on Highway 166 East

Fotos / Sonidos

Qué

Correcaminos Norteño (Geococcyx californianus)

Autor

leafybye

Fecha

Septiembre 9, 2021 12:14 PM PDT

Comentarios

Thanks for such a great travelogue of our eastern county! I really enjoyed your comments about the trip and your plant hunting. Looking forward to another installment.

Anotado por dkincmbria hace 3 meses (Advertencia)

Thanks Dave! I put a photo of the tiny thunderstorm (I heard thunder, felt rain, but I didn't see lightning) in this observation:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/94467130

This Journal system doesn't seem to have a way to put my observations in chronological order, but at least there are only 32.

Oh, and folks who have not been out there should check the road conditions before going, especially after storms. All of the roads are unpaved, except part of Soda Lake road, which has pot holes. However, I found Soda Lake Road to be in good enough shape for my low passenger car. It doesn't usually require 4 wheel drive or high clearance.

There are no services, and any water has high levels of nitrates, so bring all the water, food, sunscreen, and gas you need. Restrooms are found at Traver Ranch, KCL Campground, Selby Campground, and the Goodwin Education Center.

Info: https://www.blm.gov/visit/carrizo-plain-national-monument

Also, here is a plant list for the monument on Calflora -
https://www.calflora.org/app/ipl/ipx?loc_id=gpi132

Anotado por leafybye hace 3 meses (Advertencia)

Next Spring, I plan to look for Acamptopappus sphaerocephalus, reported from near Soda Lake Road in the southeastern end of the monument.

Anotado por leafybye hace 3 meses (Advertencia)

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