nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Uncategorized

Wild Artichokes

DSC00804 copy

Corner of Sunnyside Ave. and Highway 12

For lovers of the prickly vegetable, the presence of groves of wild artichokes, as we have in the Valley of the Moon, might seem like an indication of paradise. In addition to being delicious, artichoke flowers are beautiful, fragrant, and attract bees.

However, the wild cynara carduncula is a fearsome invasive plant.

DSC00917 copy

Vacant lot at Sunnyside Ave.

According to the California Invasive Plant Council, the thistle was probably imported from Europe in the early 19th century as a food plant. It becomes invasive when it escapes cultivation and begins to reproduce from seed. Darwin found it growing in the Argentine pampas in 1889 in an area of “hundreds of square miles.”

DSC00886 copy

The growing artichoke “forest” in the lot at Sunnyside

At its worst, the “edible thistle” forms thickets that are impenetrable by humans or animals and that shade out native plants. As they develop tap roots eight feet deep and produce seed banks that endure for five years, they are very difficult to control.

DSC00873 copyDSC00927 copy

More info at this link:

https://www.cal-ipc.org/resources/library/publications/ipcw/report38/

 

Standard
Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Uncategorized

Calendula

UPDATE!

CalendulaRiteAid

Medicinal Calendula has hit the mainstream (Rite Aid.)

Very early spring 2018, the little calendula are filling many of the open spaces in Sonoma Valley. Some folks think it’s a weed, others love it.

CalendulaField1

Fifth Street West, Sonoma

 

IMG_3368

Central Ave. Boyes Hot Springs

IMG_3369 copy

Central Ave. Boyes Hot Springs

CalendulaScan1

Photo by author

 

Is it a weed?

“Calendula (probably arvensis, but there is a larger flowered officianalis) is listed on Cal Flora as non-native to our area but not invasive. So it depends on your definition of a weed: any non-native, or the ones that most upset biodiversity? I don’t mind them; they’re pretty and have some medicinal uses. Since they tend to grow in disturbed and/or agricultural areas, no one knows for certain what grew there in the first place, so planting something else with the goal of restoration would involve some guesswork.” Hannah Aclufi via Facebook

According to Wikipedia:

A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”. 

Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fieldsgardenslawns, and parksTaxonomically, the term “weed” has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries. In the same way, volunteer crops (plants) are regarded as weeds in a subsequent crop.

Many plants that people widely regard as weeds also are intentionally grown in gardens and other cultivated settings, in which case they are sometimes called beneficial weeds.

These little plants tend to inhabit waste spaces, roadsides, and untended open fields. They will grow in gardens, but are easily removed and are not aggressively spreading, like oxalis or dandelions.

So there can be a differing of opinion.

The term weed also is applied to any plant that grows or reproduces aggressively, or is invasive outside its native habitat.[1] More broadly “weed” occasionally is applied pejoratively to species outside the plant kingdom, species that can survive in diverse environments and reproduce quickly; in this sense it has even been applied to humans.[2]

So, let’s not get up on our high horses when deciding what is a weed or what isn’t. Humans are a weed species, but there are some benefits to our existence!

CalendulaField5

Fifth Street West, Sonoma

 

Calendula have medicinal uses as a remedy for skin problems as well as an anti-inflammatory.

calendulamedicinal

And, on a taxinomical note:

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 2.31.27 PM copy

From the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database, http://www.itis.gov

 

“There is a lot of magic in the naming of things. It is my contention that the more we know about nature’s secrets, the more we can enjoy it. Simply being able to call the elements of nature by their proper names helps us to experience them and allows their beauty to unfold…” Obi Kaufmann, The California Field Atlas.

“I find the Latin names for the plants as beautiful as the plants themselves … “ Wyethia Angustifolia (Hannah Aclufi) https://viridiplantae.com/about/

 

Standard
Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Trees, Uncategorized

The Oak Tree at Sierra Drive

Just south of the Sonoma Mission Inn, on the west side of Highway 12, Sierra Drive intersects.

DawsonAerila1web

Aerial photo with streets courtesy of Arthur Dawson

Google Maps

At that corner stands one of our landmark oak trees. The tree is in front of the building that now houses Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road (more on that later), was renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former NWPRR right-of-way (the tracks were removed in 1942).

Our tree is a Valley Oak, Quercus lobata. According to the California Native Plant Society (http://calscape.org/), the Valley Oak ranges over the interior valleys of the State, and needs to be near a source of water (Lily Creek*, which flows down Arroyo Road, tunnels under the highway very near the tree.) It can grow to 100’ in height and live for as many as 500 years. The tree in question, which has three trunks, certainly could be 100 years old. We have a photograph of the tree (and building) from 1973, which shows it to be in pretty poor shape. In 2018 it appears to be much healthier.

*Thanks to Greg Larson for the creek name.

 

valleyoak

195SierraBank1973Ross2018.1

1973 top. 2018 bottom. Top photo courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society.

The tree may appear in some other historic photos.

BoyesStationAuburn

Boyes Depot, 1930s, (approximately located in the parking lot behind the Plaza Center Building), looking north to Sonoma Mountain. The oak in the foreground is possibly the Sierra Drive tree.

iValleydrug copy

Photo by Zan Stark, 1950s. The location is opposite Arroyo Road on the Highway.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oaks are never more beautiful than in winter.

Next post: About Sierra Drive/Meincke Road.

 

 

Standard
Boyes Hot Springs, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Trees

The Corner of Central and Highlands

At the corner of Central and Highlands in Boyes Springs, these trees had been “influencing” the fence for many years, in a wonderful display of found sculpture. In April of 2017, big changes happened._DSC8641

The trees, which had been menacing the house’s foundation, were removed and a new fence was built._DSC8652IMG_2277 It’s sad to see trees go, but they don’t live forever, just like people.

Standard
Neighborhood Phenomena, Uncategorized

El Molino Wall

elmolinotree1web

The owner of El Molino Central, located at Central Avenue and Sonoma Highway, did a magnificent job designing and building her restaurant. Since it first opened, in 2010, she has continued to improve the site. This stone wall was a later addition.

In a similar way that wood fences, or even buildings, are often built around trees, buildaroundBuildaround1

the masons who crafted this wall incorporated the small tree right into the work.elmolinotree2web

The plant is heteromeles arbutifolia, or Toyon: https://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=4140 (please correct if wrong.) This is an interesting plant to have at a restaraunt, since its toxicity is listed as MAJOR.

Standard