Cold Fire

Burn Area
The Cold Fire burned around Cold Spring trail (east fork) about noon on 6 Nov 2012 and was contained by 4pm. The fire department says the burn was about 3 acres.

The fire, taken from Las Alturas Rd. by Henry L. Fechtman.

The fire, taken from Las Alturas Rd. by Henry L. Fechtman.

Pictures of the fire from EdHat

The burn area is about 2 miles up Cold Spring Trail, between N34°27.82′ and N34°27.89′, W119°38.60′ and W119°38.67′. Altitude 600-675m. N/S difference is about 120m, E/W difference is about 125m, height difference about 75m. If the region were flat this would be roughly .5 hectare, but since it is quite the opposite of flat the actual surface area is probably about half again as much. This is a steep south, southwest facing slope, pretty dry.
Cold Fire Map
View larger map

CautionThe trail switchbacks through the burn area several times.

Before the fire this was typical front country chaparral, where the trail cut through it there were also small sub-shrubs and such at the edges. The chaparral mix was mostly Ceanothus spp., Arctostaphylos spp. (manzanitas), Malosma laurina (laurel sumac), Prunus illicifolia (holly-leaved cherry), Adenostoma fascicula (chamise). A little further down the trail is a large patch of Cercocarpus betuloides (mountain mahogany) and that would probably be mixed in too. Along the edge of the trail were Salvia mellifera (black sage), Trichostema lanatum (woolly bluecurls) and Mimulus aurantiacus (sticky monkeyflower). The fire was on the edge of the largest patch of Calochortus fimbriatus (late-blooming Mariposa lily) that I know of. There is a bare knoll in the middle of the burn to which the trail leads. In the past this has been home to Lupinus hirsutissimus (Stinging Lupine), Hesperoyucca whipplei (Chaparral Yucca), mariposa lilies, Wild Oats Avena spp., probably Cryptantha sp. (popcornflower) and Erodium cicutarium (storksbill).

I believe the burned area was previously divided into three distinct zones. The first is the lower slope (below the knoll and the non-forest service trail). This area was probably mostly bigpod Ceanothus before the fire. Almost all the shrubs here have been burnt completely, down to the ground, and (by June 2013) I have seen no evidence of shrub regeneration here. Then there is the area above the knoll. This appears to have been a mixture of species with regeneration of Chamise, Laurel Sumac, Holly-leaved Cherry, Manzanita and Bush Poppy starting around the beginning of March. Lastly there is the area around the knoll and to the east of the non-FS trail; this has always been less vegetated; here grow the yuccas and lupines.

I will try to follow regeneration in the area by checking on it monthly (sadly I missed visiting in November — marathon training and recovery). Generally I follow the transects laid out by Cold Spring trail (half-way through I added a transect along the non-Forest Service trail that cuts across the burn).


Over the last ~150 years Santa Barbara averages 17.5 inches (44.6cm) of rain a year, but the amount of rain is highly variable with a standard deviation of 8.6 inches. (The rainfall data I have are taken from downtown Santa Barbara rather than the burn area itself, but I expect the variations are similar).

Recent Rainfall by year
2010 28.4 in +1.25 sd
2011 17.2 in -0.04 sd
2012 13.8 in -0.43 sd
2013 4.2 in -1.55 sd

The calendar year of the fire was mildly dry, but November of that year had 2.8 inches (which is almost twice the expected amount for November) and December had 3.2 inches (which is a bit over average). So the first two months after the fire were damp.

The calendar year 2013 was the second driest for which I have good records (1947 was drier). Every month of 2013 had below average rainfall for that month.
Rain for 2012, month by month
Rain for 2013, month by month

The result has been an initial burst of vegitation in early 2013 followed by a die-back caused by drought. Until the end of February 2014 there were no significant winter rains, but on the last 3 days of Feb we got more rain (3.4 inches) than in the previous 13 months (3.3 inches). We are still in a bad drought, but it’s now a little better. There were some signs of new plants in December, but they dried up and died in January. After the late February rains plants sprouted again.


These show selected areas of the burn as they change through time.

These aren’t as easy to use as I would like. Click on an image below, and then select “Slideshow” from the menu. If you have a slow connection you may need to play the slideshow several times before all the images load.

CF4 20121220
Hillside at bottom of burn
This is the only area where I actually have some pictures which predate the fire. The image here is from May 2012. Chaparral Candles
Another hillside, just below the knoll
When I started, I hoped this tree would produce new shoots, but it’s a Ceanothus and so it disappoints. Its surroundings have changed though.
View from Southwest
View from Southeast


The table below lists the species I have seen since the fire (in the burn area). In the little calendars the area in light green represents times when I have seen the species growing but not blooming, the area in pink represents times when I have seen the species in bloom, and the area in white represents time when I saw no sign of the species (or represents time in the future, to be filled in later). When a state change happens between two samples (“blooming on 28/Apr, dead on 14/May”), I shade from one color to the other between the two. Species are listed in the order in which I noticed them first. Often I can’t identify a plant until it blooms; a few plants (fringe pod for instance) I failed to even notice until long after it had set seed.

Bushy Spikemoss
Bird’s Foot Fern
Late blooming Mariposa lily
Chaparral yucca
large flowered phacelia
common phacelia
stinging lupine
Strigose Lotus
graceful bedstraw
Fairy Mist
Red-stemmed storksbill
climbing snapdragon
blue dicks
Coastal Morning Glory
Globe gilia
Foothill Poppy
white Sticky Phacelia
spotted hideseed
Laurel sumac
Holly-leaved cherry
Eastwood manzanita
Hairy suncup
California Chickory
Hairy Cat’s ear
California mustard
yellow monkeyflower
Chaparral lotus
Windmill Pink
golden yarrow
Madrid Brome
Silver Puffs
California Buckwheat
Whispering Bells
Scarlet Pimpernel
Beggar’s ticks
sticky monkeyflower
Maltese star thistle
Summer Mustard
canyon sunflower
Big Dense false giliflower
Fringe Pod
Western Rye
Smooth Cat’s ear
Turkish Rugging
Tall Stephanomeria
Bush poppy
California pearly everlasting
Dense false giliflower
sawtooth goldenbush
Bailey’s Buckwheat
Common Rush-Rose
Chicory-leaved wire-lettuce
California Brickellbush
Woolly Indian Paintbrush
twocolor cudweed
Ripgut Brome
California Melic
Bigpod Ceanothus
black sage
purple nightshade
California Lacefern
Sticky snapdragon
California Asterella
Old man of Spring
Climbing Penstemon
narrow-leaved bedstraw
California Cottonrose
Hairy Ceanothus
common manroot
Woolly bluecurls
Palmer’s Asterella
Coffee Fern

How many taxa were in bloom?

The graphs below show the number of taxa (usually species) that were in bloom (red) or identifiable as alive (green). The blue lines indicate the amount of rain in downtown SB for that day (each blue pixel represents .05 inch).

In February of 2014 even though more plants have established themselves, fewer of them were blooming than in February of 2013 because of the drought.

Number of taxa identifiably alive or blooming

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

There are 0 species blooming today and 3 species growing (or blooming). While last year on this date there were 2 species blooming and 36 species growing. And two years ago there were 2 species blooming and 24 species growing.


20 Dec 2012

Below the trail the landscape is almost completely denuded, just bare dirt and a few stumps of Yucca rosettes. Above the trail there are still the dead burned branches of shrubs. From a distance nothing growing is visible.

Below the trail (looking down)

Below the trail (looking down)

Above the trail

Above the trail

  • Bird's foot FernBird’s foot fern (Pellea mucronata) growing (an early plant after the Jesusita fire too)
  • Some moss (probably Selaginella bigelovii, a spikemoss, not a true moss)
  • grass, but I think that was in a small area that did not actually burn, though surrounded by burnt areas. (Sadly I did not photograph this grass. In August 2013 I am starting to pay attention to grasses, but I have no idea what this was. Wild Oats would probably be a reasonable guess.).
  • Small forbs I can’t identify
  • Lots of basal leaves of Late Blooming Mariposa Lily (Calochortus fimbriatus).
    I have not seen basal leaves anywhere else yet. None on Jesusita, none on the unburned section of the trail. Last year there were very few blooms in the burnt area (adjacent areas had lots), but it is currently crowded with basal leaves
  • Unburnt YuccaChaparral yucca leaves ((Hesperoyucca whipplei).
    Some of these plants were roasted by the fire, others still appear green with dead tips.

Comparing this to regeneration after the Jesusita fire (which was in May), common manroot was growing and in bloom by November, but manroot has come out late this year. I see no sign of it here in mid December. Canyon sunflowers were already blooming on Cold Spring west a month after the J fire, but I see none here. Some of the shrubs (Chamise, Manzanitas, Cherries, etc.) had started to regenerate from the rootstock on Cold Springs West a month after the J fire, but none has done so here.

12 Jan 2013

  • Everything I saw in December is still there. (Calochortis basal leaves are coming up elsewhere though) These have been joined by
  • Common manroot (in bloom too) (Marah fabaceus)
  • Various phacelia leaves (probably), I’m guessing great-flowered and caterpillar
  • Might be Star lily leaves? (Toxicoscordion fremonti)
    I have seen star-lilies blooming near here in the past.
    (Comment from March: Probably not star lilies, probably just an odd configuration of Calochortis)
  • Stinging Lupine Leaves

    Stinging Lupine Leaves

    Stinging Lupine leaves (Lupinus hirsutissimus)
    I haven’t seen any lupines anywhere else this year, but there are usually one or two here later in the year.

  • Chia leaves (Salvia columbariae)
    I haven’t seen chia leaves anywhere else this year
  • leaves of popcornflower (Cryptantha sp.)

No visible regeneration from the rootstock of the bigger shrubs.
A trail has been cut through the burn area, and an unburned chamise bush which was chopped (as trail clearance) now has green leaves and shoots on it whereas the burned bushes do not.

Comparing this to regeneration after the Jesusita fire (which was in May): On the west fork of cold spring trail there were green shoots coming up from the rootstock of shrubs within a month of the fire. It has now been two months since the Cold Fire and there is no regeneration yet.

3 Feb 2013

Everything that was here in January is here still. They have been joined by:

  • red maidsRed maids blooming (Calandrinia menziesii)
    I’ve only seen this plant in the year or two following a fire.
  • Some relative of bird’s foot trefoil (more like 7-foil) Acmispon sp. blooming (later: This is probably Acmispon strgosus (I originally misidentified it as A. maritimus).
    Possibly A. argophyllus.
  • Popcorn flower blooming. (Cryptantha sp.)

Still no sign of regeneration from the bushes.

17 Feb 2013

Everything that was here earlier is here still. They have been joined by:

Still no regeneration of the bushes. It looks as though more than half of the ground is now covered with vines and new growth.
Ground Cover

3 Mar 2013

Very little bare ground left, the vines have covered up most of it. Manroot was the first vine to be significant, but now I think false bindweed is more important (even though it isn’t blooming much yet). Climbing snapdragon is common but doesn’t take over the way the other two do.

More important I am finally seeing shrub regeneration. It is still not common — I only noticed four plants regenerating, but those four were all different species: Laurel sumac (Malosma laurina), Holly-leaved cherry Prunus ilicifolia), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), and some form of manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.).


12 Mar 2013

Everything that was here earlier is here still. They have been joined by:

The blooms on red maids are fewer than before (or is this simply a time of day issue, today I looked at 11am PDT, while previously I’ve checked at 2pm PST). Stinging Lupines are starting to show seeds.

Many globe gilias now, but still only one white phacelia.

16 Mar 2013

Everything that was here earlier is here still. They have been joined by:

31 Mar 2013

A wet day, mist keeps blowing across the burned area and visibility isn’t good. I may have missed things. The hillside is now covered with great-flowered phacelia and false bindweed.

  • Common manroot (Marah fabaceus) is no longer blooming. The plants I see all have yellowed faded leaves. I see some seeds. Elsewhere on the trail (in the shade) manroot is still blooming and the leaves have not faded there.
  • Red maids (Calandrinia menziesii) are no longer blooming but are producing seeds.
  • White Phacelia (Phacelia viscida var. albiflora) seems to have vanished entirely.
  • Silver Puffs (Uropappus lindleyi) are blooming and in seed (there aren’t too many of them 5~10).
  • Whispering Bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora) is also in bloom. I went on a side trail I don’t normally take and there were several well established plants; probably had been blooming for a while.
  • California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) has appeared out of a burned shrubbery (It probably was green before, but I didn’t notice it) and now has buds.
    Buckwheat growing out of a burnt plant.

    Buckwheat growing out of a burnt plant.

  • Beggar’s ticks (Bidens pilosa) is blooming at the edge of the burn area.
  • Old closed flowers of (what I think is) Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis) are attached to a plant.

14 Apr 2013

Another wet day, the area is entirely fog-bound.

Many of the early bloomers are almost done — but most still have a bloom or two if I look hard.

18 Apr 2013

Finally a sunny day. Unfortunately the floral display isn’t as impressive as it was three weeks ago, but the sun does bring it out.

  • Several Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides) plants are now blooming. I haven’t seen canyon sunflower this high up the trail before. Interesting that they were blooming in less than a month after the Jesusita fire on the west fork of this trail, but it has taken about 5 months for them to appear here.
  • Deerweed (Acmispon glaber) is now blooming.
  • A small viney forb which I can’t identify (and probably first saw back in February) is now blooming.
    Pterostegia drymarioides vines
  • A plant is blooming up by the knoll, and, after several weeks of being perplexed by it, I realize it is a subspecies of Dense False Giliflower (Allophyllum gilioides ssp. gilioides) which I have not seen before. Previously all the giliflowers I had seen were about one third the size of this one, but Jepson tells me there are two different subspecies, one of which is considerably bigger than the other.
    Big Dense False Giliflower

28 Apr 2013

The hillside has become very dry with many plants drying up. Even the bindweed has curled leaves and many half-closed flowers today. But if I look hard enough everything that was blooming (except hairy suncup) is still blooming, and plants that were setting seed are still doing so.

  • CandlesThe Chaparral Candles (Hesperoyucca whipplei) are finally blooming. There are three plants blooming here; I’ve never seen them blooming in April in SB before, nor I have seen any, not even buds, anywhere else yet this spring. Last year yuccas here were in full bloom on 29 May, a month later. So the fire seems to have advanced the lifecycle of these plants just as it has for the late-blooming mariposas. Given this behavior in some of them I was expecting all the yuccas to be in bloom or at least pushing up flowerspikes, thinking it might be a sort of last gasp effort, but there are several living yucca rosettes with no bloom spike.
  • FringedPodSome distance off the trail I found a luxurious Fringe Pod (Thysanocarpus curvipes) in full seed (and with a few flowers). Clearly I’ve failed to see it for some time.
  • The Hairy Suncups (Camissoniopsis hirtella) have stopped blooming and seem to have died. Last week they had only one bloom that I could find and lots of seedpods, this week all the seedpods have split open, the leaves are shriveled and the plant looks dead.
  • Western Rye (Elymus glaucus) appears to be present in the site. (I generally don’t look for grasses, but checking my pictures later this appears to be the first time I photographed it.)
  • The (one) star thistle (Centaurea melitensis) is blooming and I have decided I will uproot and remove it (and any other star thistles I find).

14 May 2013

We’ve had an unusually hot dry Spring, and the hillside reflects it; many plants have stopped blooming.

I did something a little different today, I circumhiked the burn area with a GPS in order to be able to map the circumference. This meant that I saw some areas that I have never seen before and am not likely to see again, and in those areas I found two species blooming I had not noticed before (California Pearly Everlasting, and Bush Poppy).

I also learned (alas, too late) that crawling through a Phacelia thicket induces severe dermatitis — first with the sensation of small needles being poked into flesh, and a few hours later with an itch which lasts for 5~6 days.

  • Red maids (Calandrinia menziesii) now appear dead. The stems are brown and the plants have collapsed.
  • Climbing snapdragon (Antirrhinum kelloggii) also appears to be dead now, dried up and brown.
  • California mustard (Caulanthus lasiophyllus) appears brown and dead.
  • I didn’t see any sign of Blue Dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum).
  • I can see no sign of Silver Puffs (Uropappus lindleyi).
  • Spotted Hideseed (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia) is still green but is no longer flowering.
  • Chaparral lotus (Acmispon grandiflorus) is also green and producing seeds but isn’t blooming any more.
  • The Fringe Pod (Thysanocarpus curvipes) is no longer blooming but is still living and full of seeds.
  • The Chaparral Candles (Hesperoyucca whipplei) have almost finished blooming (didn’t last long) with just a few blooms left on one stalks (others are bare). Last year the yuccas were still blooming here on 12 June.
  • Turkish Rugging (Chorizanthe staticoides) is now blooming.
  • There are now many Cliff Aster plants (Malacothrix saxatilis) visible today, one of them has a bloom on it. (This later turned out to be incorrect, most of the plants I thought were cliff-asters were actually Tall Wirelettuces Stephanomeria virgata), as I discovered once they started blooming — the one cliff aster was found during the circumhike so I’m unlikely to see it again).
    Cliff Aster
  • I can no longer see any Hairy Cat’s ears (Hypochaeris radicata) but there are now lots of Smooth Cat’s ears (Hypochaeris glabra) blooming in the same place. Hairy Cat’s Ears are blooming further down the trail. Perhaps I misidentified these earlier?
  • Near the edge of the burn area I found a Bush Poppy (Dendromecon rigida) plant that looked as if it were regenerating from a burned trunk (but perhaps it survived intact. It was at the edge, and it’s now hard to be sure). It was blooming.
  • Near-by was a California Pearly Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum) in bloom. I will probably not be able to check either one of these in the future (too hard to get to).
  • Dense false giliflower (Allophyllum gilioides) is now blooming here. I realize it looks very much like the unknown phlox from 18-Apr, except that plant was much bigger. Checking in Jepson I see there are two subspecies, one big and one small…
  • The great-flowered Phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora) continues to dominate the scene. Most of them have stopped blooming but there are so many plants that some continue to bloom.
    Finished Phacelias

21 May 2013

  • The Chaparral Candles (Hesperoyucca whipplei) have finished and gone to seed.
  • Spotted Hideseed (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia) is blooming again today. Or one plant is anyway.
  • The dense false giliflower (Allophyllum gilioides) is now more frequent now, and I see it elsewhere on the trail (both above and below the fire).
  • I realize the basal leaves of Late Blooming Mariposa Lily (Calochortus fimbriatus) have all disappeared, but there are a few plants left. Far fewer plants now than there were basal leaves. One area that was crowded with basal leaves has no plants whatsoever. Some of the plants even have buds on them (this is not true outside the burn area yet).
    Early buds of late blooming Mariposas
  • I see a different species of buckwheat blooming on the trail (it seems only to be growing in the trail, not beside it). There’s a basal rosette of leaves and then an much branched flowering spike that comes out of the center, the spikes I see do not rise very high but grow out horizontally with fractal patterns. I’m tentatively identifying it as Bailey’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum baileyi).
  • I see a lot of shrubs that look like saw-toothed goldenbush (Hazardia squarrosa); they have clearly been there for a while and I’ve not noticed them.
  • I pulled up another nasty star thistle (Centaurea melitensis) which was blooming.

26 May 2013

Much of the hillside looks dead again.

Dead Hillside

  • The California Chickory (Rafinesquia californica) seems to have stopped blooming, though the plants are alive and producing seeds still.
  • The windmill pinks (Silene gallica) have finally stopped blooming and appear dried up and dead now.
  • The graceful bedstraw (Galium porrigens) is starting to produce seed (though still has many blooms, even on the same plant).
  • The Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides) seems to be drying up; its one bloom is rather shriveled.
  • Much of the unknown groundcover has died, but some remain.

9 June 2013

June gloom arrived on the first. Today the area was well within the clouds, very foggy with occasional drizzles.

  • The Late-Blooming Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus fimbriatus) are blooming early this year (Normally they start around the first of July so this is about 3 weeks early). I found 11 blooms within the burn area and many buds coming along. In nearby areas outside the burn there are merely buds, but they look as if they’ll be blooming soon.)
    Late Blooming Mariposa Lily
  • Stinging Lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus) has finally stopped blooming, the plants appear dead to my eye, but the seedpods haven’t split open so they’re probably sort of alive still.
  • Chia (Salvia columbariae) has also finally stopped. They also look dead.
  • The unidentified Bird’s Foot Seven-Foil (Acmispon sp.) thingy seems to have disappeared.
  • In the Chaparral lotus (Acmispon grandiflorus) the seedpods have now split open, but the plant is still very green and alive.
  • Spotted hideseed (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia) plants have all shriveled and blackened.
  • There were still a few Silver Puff (Uropappus lindleyi) seedheads.
  • The Canyon Sunflowers (Venegasia carpesioides) seemed much happier today. Perhaps they like the foggy weather.
  • Sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) didn’t seem happy, however. Its blooms seemed shriveled as if they were over (still blooming elsewhere on the trail).
  • I found a Common Rushrose (Helianthemum scoparium) plant in bloom. I’d been wondering why I hadn’t seen this plant before.
  • Most of the plants I thought were Cliff-Asters turn out to be Tall Wirelettuces (Stephanomeria virgata) and some of them are now blooming.
  • There’s a plant which might be California Bricklebush California Brickellbush (Brickellia californica). It isn’t blooming yet so I can’t be sure, but it’s in full leaf and I must have been ignoring it for a while.

16 June 2013

Not so gloomy this afternoon. Full sun and rather warm.

  • Stinging Lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus) is flowering again today. Only one plant. Perhaps it didn’t like the foggy weather last week?
  • Common Phacelia (Phacelia distans) seems to have stopped blooming.
  • I see no signs of Silver Puffs (Uropappus lindleyi) today.
  • Smooth Cat’s ears (Hypochaeris glabra) seem to have stopped blooming, but there are still plenty of seedheads.
  • The Fringe Pod (Thysanocarpus curvipes) seems dead.
  • Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata) plants seem dead now.
  • The Common rushrose (Helianthemum scoparium) plants (I think there are 2) have very unhappy looking blooms. I doubt they’ll be blooming much longer…
  • At the very top of the burn area is a tall slender plant which is probably Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis). It has probably been there a while as it’s fairly tall.

18 June 2013

  • The Common rushrose (Helianthemum scoparium) plants look much happier this morning. Perhaps they dislike the afternoon sun?

23 June 2013

Another day of June Gloom with the burn area inside the clouds and getting a slight mizzle.

  • I see more Common Rushrose (Helianthemum scoparium) now, blooming happily in the fog.
  • I’ve been watching a strange buckwheat for more than a month now, I first noticed it in mid-May and today it bloomed. It looks a bit like E. fasciculatum except that it has more succulent looking leaves, and, of course, it started blooming more than 2 months after E. f.. Ralph suggested it might be E. fasciculatum var. polifolium.
  • Stinging Lupine (Lupinus hirsutissimus) is not blooming.
  • Smooth Cat’s ears (Hypochaeris glabra) are blooming again. I guess they like the fog.
  • I see a plant which might be Chicory-leaved wirelettuce (Stephanomeria cichoriacea). It is well established and has buds (so I’ve been ignoring it for a long time).

2 July 2013

  • Woolly Indian PaintbrushI found a Woolly Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa) in full bloom on the side of the trail near the knoll. This is unexpected because I haven’t seen it blooming since the middle of May.
  • By the side of the trail near the knoll I also found a California Pearly Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum) with it’s flowers all burst open. So I missed it flowering completely.
  • One of the regenerating Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina) has a bloom on it. As I recall back in December, this plant looked as though it had been cut-back and not burnt. So I don’t think I will count it. None of the other regenerating sumacs is blooming.
  • The Whispering Bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora) have stopped blooming. As have Deerweed (Acmispon glaber), Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides), Turkish Rugging (Chorizanthe staticoides), Graceful Bedstraw (Galium porrigens), and Cat’s Ear (Hypochaeris glabra).
  • The two buckwheats I have identified look past their peak, as do the Mariposa Lilies.

7 July 2013

Sunny afternoon, verging on hot.

9 July 2013

Sunny morning, verging on hot.

  • Late-Blooming Mariposa lily (Calochortus fimbriatus) are not blooming today. Not here anyway, they are above, below and beside (same altitude as burn area but not in it) on Cold Spring.
  • Large Flowered phacelia (Phacelia grandiflora) is also not blooming today.
  • Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides) has shriveled buds but no open blooms.
  • I found no Deerweed (Acmispon glaber) blooming.
  • The Common Rushrose (Helianthemum scoparium) was blooming. When I went up at ~07:30 I only saw 2 buds, but when I came down ~10:00 I saw about 5. I think the number of blooms is related to time of day, or temperature, with more blooms happening on cool mornings than hot afternoons.
  • Tall Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria virgata) also seems to be time/temperature dependent in its blooming. I saw no blooms at ~15:00 two days ago, but lots of blooms at ~07:30 today, and again no blooms at 10:00.
  • I found a Cliff-aster (Malacothrix saxatilis) plant behind the canyon sunflowers today. It was in full bloom.

13 July 2013

Sunny morning

20 July 2013

Hazy sun this morning, not as warm.

27 July 2013

I decided to try an experiment, I visited the burn area three times today (at 7:30am, 9:30am, and 4:00pm). I wanted to see how much of a difference time of day made. It was sunny and warm in the morning and even warmer in the afternoon.

  • Cliff Aster (Malacothrix saxatilis): One plant had seedheads and buds at 7:30, many blooms at 9:30, and seedheads and buds again at 4:00.
  • Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides): One plant had a bloom during all visits.
  • Tall Wirelettuce (Stephanomeria virgata) was blooming for the two morning visits but not in the afternoon.
  • Chicory-leaved wire-lettuce (Stephanomeria cichoriacea) was blooming for the two morning visits but not in the afternoon. Further down the trail, closer to the creek, the plant seems to bloom all day long.
  • Big Dense False Giliflower (Allophyllum gilioides ssp. gilioides) was blooming during all visits.
  • Great flowered Phacelia Phacelia graniflora: one plant had two blooms at all visits.
  • Graceful bedstraw (Galium porrigens): in the afternoon I found a small patch which was blooming again.
  • Common Rush-Rose (Helianthemum scoparium) was blooming at all times.
  • Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum). is also blooming again. (I saw blooms on all visits).
  • Twocolor everlasting (Pseudognaphalium biolettii): In the afternoon I found a small plant by the side of the trail. This is the first time I’ve seen it in the burn area.
  • Horseweed (Erigeron canadensis) had buds during all visits (it is currently blooming on Mountain Dr.)
  • Coastal Morning Glory (Calystegia macrostegia): I noticed this blooming in the morning, but I neglected to look for it in the afternoon. I did not see it in the afternoon, and I suspect it was not blooming, but I might just have missed it.
  • Late Blooming Mariposa Lily (Calochortus fimbriatus): outside of the burn area I found a bloom in the afternoon but not in the morning.
  • The three buckwheats seemed unaffected by time of day and were all blooming during all visits.

3 Aug 2013

I visited at 7:30 and 9:30. Sunny and cool at 7:30, light fog at 9:30 (fog layer was rising, at 7:30 was down by the powerlines (500m) at 9:30 in the burn (650m).

13 Aug 2013

Two morning visits. Sunny, cool.

25&27 Aug 2013

Late afternoon visit on the 25th ~5pm, two morning visits on the 27th ~8:15am & ~10:30am. Sunny warm.

I started looking for grasses (and looking back through old photos for grasses). Wild Oats (probably both Avena barbata & A. fatua) have been here all along. I have found pictures of them from before the fire. Western wildrye (Elymus glaucus) also appears in an early photo. I found various other grasses, most of which I have not identified yet.

  • Golden Yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum). was not blooming either time.
  • Ripgut Brome (Bromus diandrus) is present, and presumably has been for a long time.
  • I can no longer find Chaparral Lotus (Acmispon grandiflorus). on the lower hillside, but on the upper slopes it is still visible and appears to be growing (green leaves, not shriveled).
  • I checked out the Bushy Spikemoss (Selaginella bigelovii) again. It has shrivelled into itself and is dormant.
    Selaginella bigelovii alive
    Selaginella bigelovii drying
    Selaginella bigelovii dormant
  • Bird’s foot fern (Pellea mucronata) also has grey shrivelled leaves and appears dormant.
  • Sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) appears so shrivelled that I’m going to say it is dormant too.

10 Sept 2013

Wild Oats mid-burnTwo morning visits. Fog around 8, clearing overcast around 10. As usual, Cliff Aster is not blooming early but is around 10.

I notice that the grasses hug the trails. There are almost no grass plants in the interior of the burned region (exception: One tall stand of wild oats in the middle of the lower hillside).

The lower hillside was almost denuded of shrubs by the fire. There are only a few blackened skeletons on the slope. Today I notice what looks like Laurel Sumac growing at the base of the largest dead trunk.

That leaves Cliff Aster, Bailey’s Buckwheat, Saw-toothed Goldenbush, and the two Wirelettuces.

14 Sept 2013

Another hot sunny afternoon visit.

I pointed the burned tree with Laurel Sumac on the lower hillside out to Ralph Philbrick and he started climbing the slope (it is extremely steep) to get a closer look. The tree is too big for Laurel Sumac. Although there is, indeed, Laurel Sumac all around the tree, in the center of the circle of trunks is a patch of Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) saplings growing from the old rootstock. This is the first time I’ve seen Toyon in the burn area. I searched back through old photographs of the tree (I don’t have any close ups of it, and in March and April the base of the tree is hidden by tall Phacelia plants). In my early visits the ground under the tree is barren, and then hidden at the crucial time. By 18 April the annuals have thinned a bit and there appears to be green where the toyon now sprouts.
Dead Toyon

Bigpod SeedlingWhen making the traverse of the slope Ralph pointed out some seedlings and claimed they were Ceanothus (presumably bigpod since that’s what is common in the surrounding area). The leaves looked nothing like the leaves of adult bigpods but Ralph later showed me an adult which was putting out shoots from its base and the leaves on the shoots were similar to those on the seedlings. The seedlings are ~20cm high, and currently appear the worse for the drought. I have no idea when they started, but clearly they have been there for a while.

24 Sept 2013

Hot sunny morning visits.

That leaves Cliff Aster, Bailey’s Buckwheat, Saw-toothed Goldenbush, California Bricklebush and Tall Wirelettuces.

8 Oct 2013

Pleasant sunny morning visits.

12 Oct 2013

Pleasant sunny afternoon visit.
First winter storm brought a trace of rain on 9 Oct.

22 Oct 2013

Pleasant sunny morning. (Too early to check if the Cliff Asters are blooming)

29 Oct 2013

Second winter storm last night – small amount of rain (damp ground). Sunny with occasional clouds
Damp Ground

2 Nov 2013

Sunny and warm afternoon

19 Nov 2013

Hazy and cool morning
Common manroot (Marah fabaceus) is starting to bloom in other areas (on Hot Springs Connector about half a mile away) but I looked hard for it here and saw none yet.

24 Nov 2013

Sunny and cool morning
Quick check as part of a race.

6 Dec 2013

Sunny and cool afternoon
Things are beginning to grow. New blades of grass (can’t identify them) are popping up all over the place, many small forbs. Spikemoss is alive again, as is Bird’s Foot Fern. New green on the Coastal Morning-Glory, Buckwheat, Chaparral Lotus, and Golden Yarrow.
New Grass

10 Dec 2013

Sunny and cool morning

20 Dec 2013

Sunny and cool morning
The spikemoss has shrivelled up again (no rain), but many other things are poking out recognizable leaves (I haven’t noticed any of these leaves anywhere else yet this year)
A year ago only Mariposa basal leaves, yucca, spikemoss and bird’s foot fern were in evidence.

28 Dec 2013

Sunny and warm morning
The last week has been very hot (for December, highs around 80) and dry. No rain.

Chaparral lotus has started blooming, the first of the winter’s flowers to bloom (it was not blooming this early last year).

5 Jan 2014

Sunny and warm morning
Common manroot has started blooming (this is about a month and a half after I first saw it bloom this winter).

14 Jan 2014

Sunny and hot morning, 38 days without rain
The one manroot is now dead, many of the morning glories have desiccated and appear dead, the grasses have shrivelled, most of the plants which produced seedling leaves in Nov/Dec have vanished.
Drought Stricken False Bindweed
desiccated morning glory buds

21 Jan 2014

Wooly Indian PaintbrushOvercast and warm morning, 45 days without rain
Another manroot vine has appeared (but isn’t blooming).

28 Jan 2014

Sunny and warm morning, 52 days without significant rain (we got .01 inch 2 days ago).

4 Feb 2014

Hazy and cool morning, two days ago we got .2 inches of rain. This was enough to perk up our spikemoss, but the Pellaea fern still looks dead.

9 Feb 2014

Overcast and cool morning, again, two days ago we got .2 inches of rain.

11 Feb 2014

Overcast and cool morning.

20 Feb 2014

Hazy sun and hot morning, No rain since last visit

25 Feb 2014

Light mist and cool at 8:30, hazy sun and warm at 1:30, No rain since last visit

2 Mar 2014

Mizzel and cool at 9:00, 4 inches of rain since last visit
Suddenly many things look green. The spikemoss and the fern have come back to life. Grasses and small forbs have reappeared. I think I see leaves of storksbill, popcornflower, golden yarrow, and the california pellitory. With the new green showing it’s suddenly very clear that some plants are dead, this was not obvious before…
Dead and living Pellea

4 Mar 2014

Hazy and cool at 9:00 and again at noon.
Putting an effort into conducting a real census (rather than just things blooming).

  • Popcornflower (Cryptantha sp.) (2 plants) is blooming, and plenty of others as small forbs.
  • Chaparral lotus (Acmispon grandiflorus) (more than 20 blooming) is blooming, and plenty of others growing with leaves.
  • Red stemmed storkbill (Erodium cicutarium) (1 plant) is blooming (at noon, didn’t see a bloom at 9). Many small forbs.
  • Twocolor everlasting (Pseudognaphalium biolettii) (1 plant) is blooming, and 2~3 other plants not blooming.
  • California pearly everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum) (1 plant) is growing as a small forb.
  • Late blooming mariposa basal-leaves (Calochortus fimbriatus) (lots) still appear alive.
  • Canyon Sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides) is not blooming, but there are lots (20?) of plants living. Many still look heat-stressed but they are recovering.
  • Deerweed (Acmispon glaber) is putting out new leaves, on many plants.
  • Coastal Morning Glory (Calystegia macrostegia) is putting out new leaves after the rain, but there are also many vines which appear dead and black.
  • Black sage (Salvia mellifera): I found many small forbs (?20) that have probably popped up since the rain, but also one taller plant (about a foot) which has started to lignify so must have been there for a while. Looking back at earlier photographs I can see a plant in the same place back in 20 Dec but have no photos of the area before that until 2 July (when there is no black sage). I guess that it popped up after the rains in December.
  • Laurel Sumac (Malosma laurina) is growing well on many plants.
  • Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) is also common.
  • Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp.) grows well. None of the manzanitas in this area bloomed when they should (but then I have seen no manzanita blooms anywhere this winter).
  • Holly leaved-cherry Prunus ilicifolia) is alive, though its leaves look drought stressed. These also have not bloomed at the normal time; again this is true of the entire SB area.
  • Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia). I must confess I did not check these plants, they are hard to reach and doing so destablizes the soil.
  • Sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus) (1 plant) has green, drought-stressed leaves.
  • California Bricklebush California Brickellbush (Brickellia californica) (2 plants) both with green leaves near the roots and lifeless stems above (A bricklebush on Mountain Dr. is completely covered in leaves).
  • Saw-toothed goldenbush (Hazardia squarrosa): many plants, but leaves are all shrivelled and dead. I assume the plants are dormant? Plants on other trails look happier though…
  • The unidentified small forb Pterostegia drymarioides (several patches) is back.
  • Bigpod Ceanothus (Ceanothus megacarpus) (many) are still scattered around the area, lots of small sticks about a foot high. (Last year the area immediately surrounding the fire was covered with blooming bigpods in Feb. This year, nothing)
  • California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) grows in once dense thicket and several small patches. It has green leaves, but many dead stems (these are probably left from the fire rather than the drought).
  • Unidentified Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum ssp.) (2 plants) has green leaves.
  • Chaparral Candles (Hesperoyucca whipplei) have many green rosettes.
  • Woolly Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja foliolosa) (1 plant) is quite alive, but not blooming at the moment.
  • Cliff-aster (Malacothrix saxatilis) (1 plant) has a lot more and much greener leaves than it did before the rains, but it is no longer blooming.
  • Golden Yarrow ((Eriophyllum confertiflorum). (many) has put forth leaves, but on old stems and on new forbs.
  • Stinging Lupine leaves (Lupinus hirsutissimus) (4 plants) have reappeared.
  • Western Rye (Elymus glaucus) (1 plant) is still growing on the site. The bottom part of the blades are green, so I presume it is still alive.
  • Lots of small grasses are now green and triving. I’ve no idea how to identify them at this point.
  • Bushy Spikemoss (Selaginella bigelovii) (many) is green and happy at the moment.
  • Bird’s foot fern (Pellea mucronata) (many) is grey and happy.

At the moment, only 4 species are blooming (and 3 of those 4 are represented by only one or two blooming individuals). At this time last year there were 16 species in bloom:

  • Common Manroot
  • Red Maids
  • Popcornflower
  • Bird’s foot seven-foil
  • Stinging Lupine
  • Chia
  • Red Stemmed Storksbill
  • Climbing Snapdragon
  • Blue Dicks
  • Coastal Morning Glory
  • Globe Gillia
  • Collarless California Poppies
  • White Phacelia
  • Great Flowered Phacelia
  • Common Phacelia
  • Spotted Hideseed

18 Mar 2014

Hazy and warm