Flora

Plant life in Northern California wastes no time. By February the monotone meadows of winter begin a chromatic crescendo that lasts well into summer. From the miniature marvels of lichens and mosses to things that live large – stratospheric redwoods and billowing oaks – this gallery celebrates all that grasps the ground and reaches for the sky.

The inner sanctum of our state flower, the California orange poppy. North Peak, Mt. Diablo State Park.

California buckeyes on a misty winter evening, Round Valley.

Round Valley buckeyes in full bloom at sunrise.

A forest fire of moss sporangia sweeps across a boulder in Round Valley Regional Preserve.

Paintbrush, Bald Ridge, Mt. Diablo State Park.

Red-banded polypore fungus on blue oak, Round Valley Regional Preserve.

Bird's-eyes on Round Valley's Ribcage Ridge.

Bark peels on manzanita. Morgan Territory Regional Preserve in June.

California buckeye and fog, North Peak, Mt. Diablo.

Shooting star, Ithuriel Ridge, Round Valley.

A massive California buckeye I call Aesculus Rex. The trunk, just above the roots, measures 7 feet in diameter. Round Valley Regional Preserve.

A massive California buckeye I call Aesculus Rex. The trunk, just above the roots, measures 7 feet in diameter. Round Valley Regional Preserve.

Foliose lichen, Round Valley.

Silver bush lupine, Flag Hill, Sunol Regional Wilderness.

Juniper, Olympia Trail, Mt. Diablo.

Blue-eyed grass, Flag Hill, Sunol Regional Wilderness.

California coast redwoods on a foggy morning in the Steep Ravine, Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

California wild grape, Mitchell Canyon, Mt. Diablo.

Valley oaks bracket Round Valley Creek in January.

Butterfly mariposa lily, Del Valle Regional Park.

Coulter pine cones, North Peak, Mt. Diablo.

Valley oak in autumn, Round Valley.

Hound's tongue on Middle Trail, Mt. Diablo.

Blue oak, winter solstice sunrise, Round Valley summit.

Winecup clarkia, Round Valley.

Maidenhair graces Middle Trail, Mt. Diablo.

Fog droplets on Mt. Diablo manzanita blossoms, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.

Ceanothus on Middle Trail, Mt. Diablo State Park.

California black oak at sunrise in Round Valley's Murphy Meadow.

Alyssum with dew on spider web, Brentwood.

Monterey cypress, Point Lobos State Reserve.

A fuchsia firecracker shatters the drab November landscape along Mt. Diablo's Mitchell Rock Trail.

A blue oak braces for a winter storm on the summit of Round Valley Regional Preserve. 

Owl's clover spatters Round Valley's Clover Ridge.

Blue oak in autumn, Round Valley.

Rose clover, Round Valley.

Fruiting bodies of chaparral clematis, Blackpoint Trail, Mt. Diablo.

Baby blue-eyes with violet variant, North Peak, Mt. Diablo.

Late-winter black oaks in Donner Canyon, Mt. Diablo.

California buttercup, Round Valley.

The Monterey cypress known as Old Veteran. Point Lobos State Reserve.

Yellow mariposa lily, Marsh Creek State Park.

Coast live oak, Mt. Tamalpais State Park.

Miniature lupine, Round Valley.

California buckeye in November, Coyote Ridge, Round Valley.

Round Valley buckeye blossoms in spring.

The California coast redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument tower up to 370 feet above the forest floor; their diameter can span 22 feet and their bark can measure a foot thick. Most of them are between 500 and 800 years old; some have lived for 2,000 years.

Red and yellow paintbrush, Eagle Peak, Mt. Diablo.

California buckeye in Round Valley, winter solstice 2016.

Virginia creeper, autumn morning in Nevada City.

Valley oak above the Clyma Trail, Morgan Territory Regional Preserve.