Archivos de diario de mayo 2023

06 de mayo de 2023

The poaching of Dudleya Plants: Why to obscure your observations

Why or why not obscure or make private your observations of Dudleya species in California.

Personally I think it is more important than ever to document the species wherever they are, and accurately ID them. There has been a very high demand for these species in China as houseplants (and perhaps for supposed medicinal purposes?). Poachers have come to California and literally stripped our coastal bluffs of the plants by rappelling down the cliff faces, filling van-loads, shipping them from any local post office, and working their way down the coast. Fortunately, some wardens have caught some of them, but not before our bluffs were stripped.

Inland areas are also in danger of the same activity with local species.

So, documenting what is left and where is important for researchers as well as CDFW to follow how the plants survive and recover. That said, obscure the observations or make them PRIVATE every single time -- at this time, iNat app does not do that automatically like it does for endangered or threatened species. This way, we can help protect these plants and at the same time help document where they continue to thrive.

Check out this YouTube documenting the poaching activities "Plant Heist":

We met this warden a couple of weeks ago when he was patrolling the Mendocino Headlands on foot, just interacting with visitors and regulars, telling his story, petting the dogs (he recently lost his K9 partner to old age and misses her terribly -- she could sniff out and alert him to a huge number of items including dudleya, ammunition/spent ammo casings, marijuana, abalone, and more).

I have witnessed the decimation of local dudleya on some back-roads where there had been hundreds of dudleya just two years ago, and during the pandemic poachers stripped the entire embankments of everything. Those were "Canyon Liveforever." So when I am out hiking in our local parks and lands, I do document the plants, properly identify the species and obscure the location. While I am doing this, I educate anyone who is with me -- a guided hike, a park preview day, a hiking buddy.

Ask me anything!!

Publicado el mayo 6, 2023 03:49 TARDE por wildmare64 wildmare64 | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario

22 de mayo de 2023

Pacific Poison Oak in Many Forms

Pacific Poison Oak. Just the mere mention or thought can make many of us itch and twitch. Some of us dare to breathe as we carefully avoid it's reaching branches on trails. Prior to the 2017 Nun's Fire, a fellow park employee and I joked that if a wildfire ever roared through Annadel State Park, everyone in Sonoma County would break out in poison oak from the oily smoke. We were rather surprised to hear nothing of the sort after all the fires of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 around our richly carpeted poison oaky woodlands. Especially after 63% of Annadel burned in the Nun's Fire. My grandmother got poison oak rash from burn piles in the Sacramento Valley after they moved there.

For years, I had assumed that poison oak foliage all looked the same. I knew that the plant grows in a multitude of different forms: small bush, large bush, tree-like, groundcover-like, huge thick vines curling up tall trees to reach sunlight, from rootstock, from seeds spread by birds and critters, branches arching out over trails, branches reaching like spears up out of blackberry brambles. It loves to coexist with blackberry brambles. But the leaves all seemed to look similar: generally like oak leaves, mediumly lobed, smooth edged in between the lobes, of course in the pattern of "leaves-of-three," medium green till summer when they begin to turn to typical Autumn colors, flowing in the breeze so soft-looking (though I never meant to touch them to feel that).

Till I started noticing differences, about 10 years ago. While doing volunteer trail maintenance with Sonoma County Trails Council (SCTC), along North Burma Trail in Annadel State Park, I noticed oblong leaves with very shallow lobes, some without lobes at all. The individual leaves were very large, almost the size of my entire hand. "Huh," I thought. "The plant is evolving right before my eyes." For a few years, members of SCTC had been discussing how it seems as if poison oak likes the gradual climate change, increasing temperatures, is becoming more widely spread in more areas in thicker concentrations. It was not just our imagination.

So I started to notice the shapes of leaves. As I began to participate more and more on iNaturalist, I began to purposefully take observation photos of differently shaped poison oak leaves. Now, I recall having seen a lot of variety. Last Monday at Paulin Creek Open Space Preserve as I was doing the dodge-and-swerve around low-reaching branches of PO, I suddenly saw short plants along the ground with very large, very smooth-edged oval leaves -- each leaf as big as my foot! I actually got a perspective photo of my foot near one of these over-size leaves, without touching it of course. These plants are in full shade, up the embankment from a spring fed creek, each plant up to 2-feet tall and richly foliaged.

Yesterday was extraordinary: May 21, 2023 at Calabazas Creek RP & OSP, I noticed the most deeply lobed poison oak leaves ever. The lobes extended into the leaves by a full inch or so, on very large leaves (after 12 atmospheric rivers this past winter, everything is lush). These leaves were each about 7" long and about 4" wide. And oddly shaped. Then, another extraordinary observation a little farther down the trail: Pacific poison oak with deep lobes AND serrated edges. Even more oddly shaped overall. Whaaat?!

I am just a casual observer Nature-nerd. Who avoids getting poison oak rash very carefully. I am not seriously studying PO specifically, but noticing it as I nerd-out on all things nature around me. This spring, I feel like it's too bad the plant is so ... well, evil for most of us. Because especially after 12 atmospheric rivers, it sure does make a lovely lush green flowy groundcover plant.

Quite a few people I know who virtually live outdoors and have participated in trailwork for years never got poison oak, and rather bragged about it. Till they did. Once they got it the first time, there seemed to be no going back to "before." It seems that our bodies might even react worse with each exposure. Indeed, my husband never used to get it. Then once after a trailwork event, he broke out in PO rash on day 7 after exposure. The next time it was day 6, then the next day 5, and so on. Now, he begins rashing within hours of exposure, even after having carefully avoided the plants, washing with Technu before getting in the car, washing with Technu again in the shower at home. We always have a variety of treatment strategies on hand: Benedryl stick, Fluocinonide prescription steroid cream, lavender essential oil, 4X4 gauze pads for the really weepy spots if it gets that bad. Then there is always the hot-HOT water shower treatment for itch-gasms. Fortunately, neither of us has had to go so far as Prednisone, though some of our friends just don't even pause to think about that option, but just call their doctor before their eyes swell shut.

Publicado el mayo 22, 2023 04:00 TARDE por wildmare64 wildmare64 | 3 comentarios | Deja un comentario