Hello Friends and Family,

UCSC Arboretum, Part 1

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

I planned to go to Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains but something caught my eye en route — a sign which announced "UCSC Arboretum". Even though I lived in the Bay Area for 17 years, including several years in Santa Cruz, I was not aware of this arboretum. Instantly, I had to change my destination, especially, since there was a second sign reading, "Free admission today".

The University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum is a gem containing a huge collection of plants from representatives of more than 300 plant families of Mediterranean climates — specifically Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and California — a climate characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters.

This photo shows a flower which I was not familiar with — a Woolly Blue-curl (Trichostema lanatum). It grows as a small evergreen shrub with flowers from March to June and is native to dry coastal regions of California and Baja California. It attracts bees and hummingbirds. Native Americans used it for medicine and a variety of other purposes.

The next photo is of Hickman's Checker-bloom (Sidalcea hickmanii), a subspecies of chaparral checker-bloom. This subspecies' natural range is limited to the Santa Lucia Mountains of Monterey County just south of Santa Cruz. The shape of the flower reminds me of my favorite firecracker plant.

This shrub is a Felt-Leaved Yerba Santa AKA Thick-leaf Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium) which is native to southern California. Wikipedia says, "The leaves can be chewed like gum or made into a bitter tea, although some people consider their odor unpleasant. When gathering the leaves for human consumption, it is important to accurately distinguish the plant from the toxic E. parryi."

This fantastic flower is a Rocket Pincushion (Leucospermum reflexum) — a type of Protea — and is native to southwest South Africa. I have seen many varieties of Protea in Hawai‘i but this is the first Rocket Pincushion that I have encountered. It really does look like it is just taking off.

What a beautiful coloration from an Oleander-leaf Protea (Protea neriifolia) which is native to South Africa. The mix of colors is frequently seen in painting and textiles in Hawai‘i — which caught my eye the second I saw the leaves.

Here, for your enjoyment, is a large set of Pincushion Protea (Leucospermum cordifolium) blossoms. I am used to seeing these singly in flower arrangements in any florist shop or hotel in Hawai‘i. Seeing such a splash of these beauties is mind-blowing to me. They are native to South Africa and the blossoms come in a variety of colors. An interesting tidbit from Wikipedia, "The ornamental pincushion is pollinated by birds. The ripe fruits fall to the ground about two months after flowering. Here these are collected by native ants that carry them to their underground nests. Here the seeds remain protected against fire, seed-eating rodents and birds. After a fire has cleared the vegetation cover, increased daily temperature fluctuations and chemicals from charred wood seeping to the seeds with the rain, promote germination and so revives the pincushion at these locations".

Next is a closer shot of the Pincushion Protea blossoms. Ain't Mother Nature great?!!!

Here we see a Natal Bottle-brush (Greyia sutherlandii) also native to South Africa. The flowers attract birds, bees, and other insects.

This photo shows Spider Pincushion (Leucospermum tottum) blossoms, another variety of Protea which is also a native of South Africa. These blossoms are incredibly beautiful and very exotic. The flowers are visited by a variety of pollinators such as horseflies, sunbirds and sugarbirds which is causing an evolutionary drift into separate species in the plants each served increasingly by only one type of pollinator.

Here is another bush full of Pincushion Protea (Leucospermum cordifolium) blossoms in a beautiful red hue.

And last for today is a closeup of red Pincushion Protea (Leucospermum cordifolium) blossoms just inviting you to order some for your sweetheart.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com