Today D. and I (plus a handful of remarkably well-behaved young children and their parents) attended a native wildflower walk at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in nearby Alviso. D. took these pics.
Right now a lot of these plants don't look "pretty" because they're not in bloom anymore and have gone to seed. But that's part of the important role they play by providing food for insects, birds and other creatures that live in the area. It's all part of the cycle of life through the seasons.
A pelican in winter plumage glides through a bright blue sky over the wildlife refuge.
Rose hips tell the wildlife they are ripe and full of seeds by their ruddy color.
California buckwheat gone to seed.
Coyote bush gone to seed.
Snow berries are ghostly white. Birds gobble them up for their high fat content.
Buckeye twigs are the only part of the plant that stays alive during the long dry summer. It sacrifices its leaves to survive till the winter rains begin.
Looking out over the salt ponds, we see flocks of pelicans gathering.
This is a tree tobacco that has been uprooted because it is not a native species.
Here is a non-native castor bean plant. It is very toxic!! The wildlife refuge staff aren't sure how plants like the castor bean and the tree tobacco got there. The refuge complex is built on top of an old landfill, so perhaps some seeds or cuttings were part of a load of discarded landscaping or something.
Ripening toyon berries, very holly-like. The birds love them as a winter food source when all the other berries are gone.
Today we learned that buckeye flowers are toxic to non-native bees. The flowers give rise to these chestnut-like fruits which are also toxic. Native Americans used to catch fish by grinding up the buckeye nuts and sprinkling the powder into streams to kill the fish.
The last of the California asters for the year. Pretty blue daisies when in bloom; a mess of dead leaves and brown sticks now.
Salt marsh heliotrope. The centers of its flowers turn from yellow to purple after being pollinated.
Alkalai heath likes growing near salt ponds because it can tolerate the high salinity in the soil.
More buckwheat flowers, russet with autumn.