Friday, February 26, 2010

Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve

I try to come up to this park several times a year in different seasons.  It is a truly magical place.  It's not very large, but it has an astounding diversity of plants.  Many of the natives are found throughout the East Bay hills, but here you literally bump into them again and again.
Here are the first blooms of the eponymous huckleberry.  The buds are from lower down the canyon and the open blooms from up on the manzanita barren (drier and sunnier).
Fiddleheads, aka opening ferns.
Some rare and not so rare plants after the jump.

Manzanitas in full bloom.  The park has two main species, Brittleleaf (Arctostaphylos crustacea) and Pallid (A. pallida).  The latter being very rare, mostly found here in the park and in one spot near El Sobrante.
Another rare plant, Western Leatherwood (Dirca Occidentalis).  From the description of the self-guided nature trail: "Flowers December to March.  Deciduous.  Just before leatherwood breaks dormancy, the intricate naked branchlets produce lemon-yellow blooms at tips - striking!  Due to a peculiar S-shaped arrangement of its wood fibers, leatherwood has very flexible pliable branches, hence its common name.  Extremely rare."  Rare indeed. It is endemic to the Bay Area.
And last but not least, some immature miners' lettuce.


  1. Wow, never heard of Dirca before. Very cool. Huckleberry is great- I saw my first Symphoricarpos there. (not particularly rare, but it's always neat to see a plant in person that you've only read about)

  2. Lovely post. I've never been to that preserve, and I lived in the East Bay for years...shame on me. I've never heard of Leatherwood either, but as it's rare, I suppose that's to be expected. The flowers though are absolutely charming. Those fiddleheads are about at the stage of our bracken ferns here at the moment, but our miner's lettuce is quite a bit further along.

  3. Wow, that sounds like a fun place to go! I'll put it on the list, right next to Tilden...

  4. I've also never been to the reserve. That will have to change this year. Thanks for the tour.

    There is also a great patch of Leatherwood in the hills behind Crockett... (The Center of the screen in goolge maps is the rough location).,-95.677068&sspn=49.844639,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Crockett,+Contra+Costa,+California&ll=38.042844,-122.218217&spn=0.00305,0.004823&t=h&z=18

  5. I love being able to visit places like this where native plants are on full display and you can really appreciate their beauty.

  6. What a nice tour! I wish I was better at identifying native plants. I schlep the books along on hikes but rarely pull them out to study up. Pretty photos.

  7. A magical place, indeed, Brad. That opening shot of the path takes me there. Thanks for showing us. There is little on earth as amazing as an unfurling fern crozier.

  8. Looks like a really lush place this time of year. I'm not familiar with the leatherwood--thanks for sharing its photos. I keep planting miner's lettuce, hoping for a terrific little native salad, but so far I seem to just get a few plants to admire but not enough to eat...

  9. I love this park, and have planted tiny baby huckleberries in my tiny East Oakland garden