Thursday, January 19, 2012

Plants and Birds of San Fernanado Valley

When touring the Andres Pico ranch grounds on Monday we saw a century plant which had just finished flowering. I think that I need to show the century plant first, and then the stalk which grew out of it.
The stalk is in the background of the picture above. The century plant grows slowly, and it received its name from the idea that it takes 100 years to flower. That is not quite correct;  how long it takes to flower depends on the richness of the soil, climate conditions and the vigor of the plant. The volunteer at the ranch said she has enjoyed watching that plant this past year; seeing the stem come out of the plant , grow rather quickly, leaf out and produce white blossoms. Now the stalk is dead and needs to be chopped down. The stalk is what caught our attention, it must be at least 35 feet in height. Had not our guide pointed it out, we just would have thought of it as a tree and not connected it with the century plant at all.
 Also at the ranch we saw a flowering jade plant, a rather common sight here in the Los Angeles area.
Camellia and Magnolia trees are also in bloom, and today I saw a white iris, as well as jonquils. I think spring is starting around here, but it is hard to tell because some trees are dropping their leaves. Whatever season it is, it is just great being outside. And surprisingly we can always find a bit of nature right in the middle of the city! Yesterday, while biking through Sepulveda Recreation Area, we came upon one egret and several varieties of heron. There is another area of the park that has been set aside as a wildlife refuge, which we have visited, and only may see one egret in that area. What a surprise yesterday to see so many herons hanging out at a creek in the park, so close to a area heavily populated by people and traffic. While standing and watching a white egret and blue heron (pictured below) we heard a flapping of wings and two green herons flew out from the trees above us. We have never seen that many in one place, or that close to us.

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