Phineas and I explored a new trail during the last notable rainfall of the season a few weeks back, and if you’re a Californian, you know how badly we needed every last drop. On cue, the parched earth leapt to its mark and produced a springtime combustion of flora and fungi, mushrooms and greens, and telltale signs of spring’s rebirth.
I never eat the mushrooms! Too much of a risk for poisoning since I’m not knowledgeable enough to identify them with certainty.
The purple-flowered Silver Lupine Lupinus albifrons is a California native and friend of the endangered Mission Blue butterfly. The larvae of the Mission Blue will only feed on the leaves of three species of this lupine.
Handful of Miner’s Lettuce Claytonia perfoliata is a wild salad green named for the Gold Rush miners who ate it to stave off scurvy. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 100 grams of miner’s lettuce — about the size of a decent salad — contains a third of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, 22 percent of the Vitamin A, and 10 percent of the iron.
The fruit of the California Buckeye Aesculus californica forces its infant pink tree shoot up and out after staking a strong root downwards into dark mulchy earth.
A finger’s pinch of Oak Moss Lichen Evernia prunastri. This lichen is commercially harvested in parts of Europe and exported to the perfume making region of Grasse, France for the base notes of many fragrances.
There’s no better rain cover than the long-limbed canopy of the Valley Oak Quercus lobata.