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Mustard, cottonwoods, locust trees, black oaks

Gopher snakes, garter snakes, king snakes, rosy boas and three varieties of rattlesnakes

Black oaks
Black oaks

Mustard, a nonnative plant more like a weed than a wildflower, is blooming profusely on grassy slopes all along the coastline of San Diego County. An old story, probably apocryphal, tells of the padres scattering mustard seed along the El Camino Real so that the bright, yellow mustard blossoms would help them find their way in future spring seasons. More likely, the plant was introduced to western North America in the form of seeds carried in the hay used to feed livestock brought in by the early settlers.

Mustard plant

Fremont Cottonwoods along the San Diego River in Mission Gorge will show off their best iridescent green foliage this month. The Old Mission Dam parking area on Father Juñipero Serra Trail, off Mission Gorge Road (west of Santee), is a good place to begin a stroll on trails near the riverbed. Be careful — rattlesnakes may be out and about this time of year.

The Tall Locust Trees planted years ago along Julian's narrow streets are once again brightening this backcountry (and former gold-rush) town with blossoms of white, pink, and lavender. Introduced into the West by 19th century emigrants, locust trees have become almost a trademark of California's gold country, from the Mother Lode south to Julian.

A young rattlesnake soaking in some morning sun

The Black Oak, San Diego County's most handsome native deciduous tree, is sending out new leaves this week, painting the mountain slopes with shades of red, brown, and bright green. The newly emergent leaves are reddish brown in color, creating a pseudo-autumn color in the forest. After a week or two the unfolding leaves acquire a light green tint; after a month they're dark green. Black oaks are commonly found in the upper elevations of the county in areas such as the Palomar, Cuyamaca, and Laguna mountains.

Snakes, encouraged by recent warm temperatures, have already emerged from burrows and rock crevices to hunt for prey throughout the county's lower elevation hillsides and canyons. Gopher snakes, garter snakes, king snakes, rosy boas (all harmless), and three varieties of rattlesnakes — red diamond, speckled, and Southern Pacific rattlesnakes (all poisonous) — have been sighted. Close encounters with rattlesnakes are not uncommon wherever residential properties abut undeveloped land — a common situation throughout San Diego County.

The above comes from the Outdoors listings in the Reader compiled by Jerry Schad, author of Afoot & Afield in San Diego County. Schad died in 2011. Planet information from SkyandTelescope.org.

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Black oaks
Black oaks

Mustard, a nonnative plant more like a weed than a wildflower, is blooming profusely on grassy slopes all along the coastline of San Diego County. An old story, probably apocryphal, tells of the padres scattering mustard seed along the El Camino Real so that the bright, yellow mustard blossoms would help them find their way in future spring seasons. More likely, the plant was introduced to western North America in the form of seeds carried in the hay used to feed livestock brought in by the early settlers.

Mustard plant

Fremont Cottonwoods along the San Diego River in Mission Gorge will show off their best iridescent green foliage this month. The Old Mission Dam parking area on Father Juñipero Serra Trail, off Mission Gorge Road (west of Santee), is a good place to begin a stroll on trails near the riverbed. Be careful — rattlesnakes may be out and about this time of year.

The Tall Locust Trees planted years ago along Julian's narrow streets are once again brightening this backcountry (and former gold-rush) town with blossoms of white, pink, and lavender. Introduced into the West by 19th century emigrants, locust trees have become almost a trademark of California's gold country, from the Mother Lode south to Julian.

A young rattlesnake soaking in some morning sun

The Black Oak, San Diego County's most handsome native deciduous tree, is sending out new leaves this week, painting the mountain slopes with shades of red, brown, and bright green. The newly emergent leaves are reddish brown in color, creating a pseudo-autumn color in the forest. After a week or two the unfolding leaves acquire a light green tint; after a month they're dark green. Black oaks are commonly found in the upper elevations of the county in areas such as the Palomar, Cuyamaca, and Laguna mountains.

Snakes, encouraged by recent warm temperatures, have already emerged from burrows and rock crevices to hunt for prey throughout the county's lower elevation hillsides and canyons. Gopher snakes, garter snakes, king snakes, rosy boas (all harmless), and three varieties of rattlesnakes — red diamond, speckled, and Southern Pacific rattlesnakes (all poisonous) — have been sighted. Close encounters with rattlesnakes are not uncommon wherever residential properties abut undeveloped land — a common situation throughout San Diego County.

The above comes from the Outdoors listings in the Reader compiled by Jerry Schad, author of Afoot & Afield in San Diego County. Schad died in 2011. Planet information from SkyandTelescope.org.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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