Ian Pike noon, Dec. 8
Manzanitas & Hummingbirds
Manzanita Shrubs are starting to bloom this month in the foothill areas of the Cleveland National Forest. The various manzanitas, characterized by smooth, reddish bark and tough, leathery leaves, bear myriads of tiny, white to pinkish-white, urn-shaped blossoms. Large (decades-old) manzanitas can be seen around Julian and in parts of the Cuyamaca Mountains. Along the coast a similar, but less attractive manzanita thrives -- mission manzanita.
Hummingbirds, attracted to sources of nectar by red-colored flowers, are swarming over San Diego County's backyard gardens, scrub-covered coastal hillsides, and areas of the Anza-Borrego Desert now in flower. Red monkey flower is a favorite source of nectar along the coastal strip, while blooming chuparosa and ocotillo play the same role in the desert.