Since from the weather reports I've been reading it doesn't seem like spring is coming any time soon to the Midwest, I thought I'd share some photos from my recent trip to San Diego - where spring has definitely arrived. The first set of pictures are from San Elijo Lagoon. San Elijo is one of the few remaining (large) coastal wetlands that have both salt marsh and freshwater marsh habitat types. Riparian scrub and coastal scrub habitats lie adjacent to the marsh habitat. I didn't see much blooming in the marsh habitats yet. Arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis - Salicaceae) was blooming along the riparian edge of the marsh. Willows in San Diego aren't the identification bane that they were to me in the Midwest. There are only 5 species of Salix in San Diego County and their identification can often be determined using vegetative characteristics. Although when it's not flowering, I feel like mule fat (Baccharis salicifolia - Asteraceae) looks like a willow. I've included a photo of red eye acacia (Acacia cyclops - Fabaceae) just because I'm curious about it's flowers.
Bush sunflower (Encelia californica - Asteraceae) and bush monkeyflower (Diplacus puniceus - Scrophulariaceae) are very common coastal scrub species. I also threw in another weed, Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae - Oxalidaceae).
Moving south down the coast, there was a variety of species in bloom at Torrey Pines State Reserve. The reserve is immediately adjacent to the ocean, but sits up on a bluff. The reserve is named for the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) which has an extremely limited distribution. Sand verbena (Abronia umbellata - Nyctaginaceae), bush poppy (Dendomecon rigida - Papaveraceae), Shaw's agave (Agave shawii - Agavaceae), and bush rue (Cneoridium dumosum - Rutaceae) were all in bloom during the first week of February when I was there. Several other species were in bloom when I was there, but I limited the post to species I haven't shared with the group before.
I'll leave you with some really bad pics (luckily, I don't earn my keep taking photographs!). The first is a shot of a faint rainbow over the San Dieguito Lagoon as viewed from the bluffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve. San Dieguito Lagoon is another saltwater/freshwater coastal lagoon that has been preserved (somewhat). The second is the tail of a California grey whale. (Yes, you will need to enlarge the pic.) This was the first time I had ever seen whales in San Diego. Obviously, I didn't see too much of the whale - but exciting nonetheless.
I have some photos from more species in bloom in the chaparral east of the ocean that I will post sometime soon.