Star Jasmine, Black Oak, and Snakes
Star Jasmine's sweet perfume, exuded from clusters of small, white flowers, will continue to scent San Diego's spring breezes until sometime in June. Not a true jasmine, or Jasminum, star jasmine belongs to the genus Trachelospermum. In both public and private spaces, it has been widely planted as an ornamental ground cover and as a trellised vine.
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 common throughout the upper elevations of the Palomar, Cuyamaca, and Laguna mountains. Enjoy the show by exploring either the Fry Creek or Observatory trails on Palomar Mountain. Both begin at the national-forest campground area two miles below Palomar Observatory.
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) -- are typically sighted this time of year. Close encounters with rattlesnakes are not uncommon wherever residential properties abut undeveloped land -- a common situation in much of San Diego County.
More like this:
- Palomar Mountain: Observatory Trail — Oct. 31, 2012
- Monkey Flowers, Star Jasmine, Black Oaks, and Desert Agaves — April 19, 2011
- Floss Silks, Black Oaks, and Autumn Leaves — Oct. 27, 2010
- Locust Trees and Black Oaks — April 22, 2009
- Star Jasmine, Snakes, and Bracken Ferns — April 15, 2009