A grateful thank you to Dr. Raphael Mazor, aka raphaelmazor@Flickr for sharing today’s images (upon the suggestion of marymactavish@Flickr, another BPotD contributor). If you browse through Raphael’s photographs, you’ll learn that he was involved with teaching high school students about field biology while a graduate student – an activity profiled in “Close Encounters – Passing Earth Science to the Next Generation”. Original photographs from today are here and here. Thank you, Raphael!
I’ve attempted to identify both of these to species level, so if there is a misidentification, it’s my fault. Both Lasthenia fremontii (Fremont’s goldfields) and Downingia insignis (harlequin calicoflower or cupped downingia) are species associated with vernal pools. Vernal pools are temporary wetlands – essentially, shallow springtime ponds that disappear in the summer and autumn.
Vernalpools.org is a stellar resource for learning more about vernal pools and associated organisms in California. The site leads with an 1868 quote from John Muir: “Sauntering in any direction, my feet would brush about a hundred flowers with every step… as if I were wading in liquid gold”. Somewhere between 85% to 90% of California’s vernal pools have been lost – statistics like that make the UC Merced campus plan absolutely baffling to me.