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Something New And Blue Found In Placerita Canyon

Nature in Santa Clarita, it's not what you look at but what you see.

-Wendy Langhans 

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The side view of this Desert Bluebell shows off its characteristic trumpet shape. Photo provided by Diane Erskine

Earlier this week I was hiking at Walker Ranch, a place I seldom visit because it's not MRCA parkland. But I was scoping out the site for a Fire Ecology Program that we are doing on April 21st for the Community Hiking Club. Parts of Walker Ranch burned last year in a wildfire and spring is always a good time to observe the new growth that has been fertilized by the ashes.

Dianne and Steve, two of our MRCA volunteers, were walking with me. We spotted some intensely blue flower along the trail, which prompted each of us to take out our cameras and get down in the dirt. We always carry our cameras with us and there's plenty of good-natured bantering about who has the best gear.

 

Later in the day, Dianne and I traded e-mails about the identity of that blue flower. We knew it was a phacelia but the question was "which one". There are many different types. Some phacelias are what we call "fire followers", which is commonly and loosely defined as any flower that is more abundant after a wildfire.

 

Finally, after we exchanged a few digital photos, we agreed it looked like Desert Bluebells, Phacelia campanularia, to be precise. But Desert Bluebells are normally found east of here in the Mojave Desert. So Dianne checked with Ian Swift (who has forgotten more about wildflowers that I'll ever learn) at the PlaceritaNature Center.

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Desert Bluebells are normally found in the Mojave Desert. Photo Provided by Wendy Langhans

He agreed with our identification. What's more, according to his records, this flower has not been documented at Placerita.

 

I'm reminded of a quote from "The Four Quartets" by T.S. Elliot:

 

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

 

You also have a chance to explore your Santa Clarita Valley. On Saturday, April 21 at 8:00 AM, the Community Hiking Club is hosting and the MRCA is presenting a "Fire Ecology" program and easy hike at the PlaceritaCanyon Nature Center, as part of Club's Community Nature Series. For more information contact Dianne Erskine at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

Our next Bird Hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, April 21 from 8:00-10:00 AM. TowsleyCanyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.

 

You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to www.LAMountains.com.

To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to www.hometownstation.com/or tune in to AM 1220.