San Marcos Vernal Pool Area 2008
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San Marcos Vernal Pools Spring 2008
W.P. Armstrong, 2 May 2008
Note: The Brodiaea, that I referred to as "Coastal BTK," is listed as a possible
undescribed taxon under B. jolonensis in the revised Jepson Manual II (2011)

1.  Vernal Pool After Rains Of January 2008
2.  View Of Young Swimming Fairy Shrimp
3.  Vernal Pool After Rains Of February 2008
4.  View Of Tire Tracks In Water-Logged Mud
5.  Swimming Fairy Shrimp (4 MB MPEG File)
6.  San Marcos Vernal Pool Area (March 2008)
7.  Brodiaea terrestris ssp. kernensis in 2008

San Marcos vernal pool with Owens Peak (Palomar College "P" Hill) in the distance. Two vernal pools on this property were literally teeming with San Diego fairy shrimp on 10 January 2008. Fairy shrimp in this field have survived years of drought in desiccated mud. They have also survived the detrimental effects of people, including many years of trash dumping and offroad vehicles.

  See Images Of Owens Peak  

San Diego Fairy Shrimp swimming in vernal pool. Photo taken at water surface in shallow Petri dish with Sony V-3. Image enhanced and enlarged with Photoshop and Genuine Fractals. The largest individuals are 3-4 mm long.

  Close-up View Of Male & Female Fairy Shrimp  

Vernal Pools After Rains Of February 2008

Fresh tire tracks in water-logged clay soil (23 February 2008).

Vernal Pools During March & April 2008

Brodiaea Family (Themidaceae)

Tire tracks through field of Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum.

Closer view of Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum.

Common muilla (Muilla maritima).

Goldenstar (Bloomeria crocea ssp. crocea).

Leaves of dense colonies of Brodiaea species.

Lily Family (Liliaceae)

Star lily (Zygadenus fremontii var. minor).

Bellflower Family (Campanulaceae)

Toothed Downingia (Downingia cuspidata).

Inverted, epigynous flower of Downingia cuspitata. The elongate, twisted ovary results in a flower that is inverted with the two lower corolla lobes on top. What appears to be a striped pedicel is actually the ovary or hypanthium.

Legume Family (Fabaceae)

Arroyo lupine (Lupinus succulentus).

Snapdragon Family (Scrophulariaceae)

Owl's Clover (Castilleja densiflora ssp. gracilis)

The erect galea (white arrow) of Castilleja densiflora ssp. gracilis is puberulent (slightly pubescent). The galea of C. exserta ssp. exserta has much longer hairs that are described as densely shaggy-hairy or bearded.

Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta
The above species of owl's clover (Castilleja densiflora ssp. gracilis) was formerly placed in the genus Orthocarpus. In older references it is listed as Orthocarpus densiflorus var. gracilis. The individual flower superficially resembles an owl. White-flowered individuals can be found within large populations in coastal San Diego County. This image was taken in the San Marcos vernal pool field in 2005. The individual flower of another species of owl's clover in San Diego County (C. exerta ssp. exerta) is shown at left. The uppermost corolla beak (galea) is more pubescent (densely bearded). In older references it is listed as Orthocarpus purpurascens var. purpurascens.

Morning-Glory & Euphorbia Families (Convolvulaceae & Euphorbiaceae)

Two small, inconspicuous annual wildflowers that grow on heavy clay soils in coastal San Diego County. Left: Clay bindweed (Convolvulus simulans). B: Warty fruit spurge (Euphorbia spathulata). Although the latter spurge superficially resembles the common weedy spurge (E. peplus), it differs in its serrulate leaf margins, warty ovary (covered with tubercles), and oval glands without appendages.

Typical San Diego County vernal pool topography with raised "Mima mounds" and low depressions that fill with water. Black mustard (Brassica nigra) has colonized the raised mounds where gopher activity has made the soil loose and soft. Thirty years ago these mounds were commonly occupied by Burrowing Owls. A large shopping center, like the one in the distance, is perhaps the greatest threat to this marvelous vernal pool ecosystem.

Brodiaea Family (Themidaceae)

Brodiaea terrestris ssp kernensis. The shape and size of this flower closely matches the populations of BTK on the Santa Rosa Plateau of Riverside County. In general, the flowers are larger than B. jolonensis in Monterey County and the staminodes are more conspicuously hooded. The chromosome number of San Marcos BTK is at least three times greater than B. jolonensis in Monterey County. The scattered white specks on flower are pollen grains.

  Comparison Of Traits Of B. jolonensis With BTK  

An unusual 4-merous Brodiaea terrestris ssp. kernensis with 4 stigma lobes, 4 stamens, 4 staminodes, 4 inner and 4 outer perianth segments. This rare form of BTK also occurs in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Kern County and in other populations. It appears to be a developmental abnormality in the bud because a second bud on the same plant developed into a normal 3-merous flower. (Upper Image: SonyT-9; Lower Image: Nikon D-40x)

  See 4-merous BTK in Kern County  

Brodiaea terrestris ssp kernensis & Golden Stars (Bloomeria crocea) in San Marcos.

The rare & endangered Brodiaea filifolia in San Marcos.

The rare & endangered Brodiaea orcuttii in San Marcos.

Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae)

The rare & endangered Navarretia fossalis in a desiccated vernal pool. The small fuzzy balls in the background are dwarf woollyheads (Psilocarphus brevissimus).

A predatory ground beetle (Calosoma semilaeve) hunting on purple false brome (Brachypodium distachyon). As this author can attest, both the larva and adult beetle can bite. When alarmed it emits an odor resembling burnt rubber or electrical insulation. Since it eats caterpillars and cutworms, this beetle is beneficial to gardeners.

  See Another Image Of A Calosoma Beetle  

17 May 2008

The rare & endangered Brodiaea orcuttii in San Marcos.

Gentian family (Gentianaceae): Canchalagua (Centaurium venustum).

Lily family (Liliaceae): Soap lily (Chlorogalum parviflorum).

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