by Andrea Williams
Some invisible threshold has been passed, and Mt. Tam is a riot of color. Last month, seems only the blues of houndstongue (Cynoglossum grande) and ground iris (Iris macrosiphon) and the white of milkmaids (Cardamine californica) relieved the verdant carpet. Now, flowers of every hue greet me at every turn. The black oak’s (Quercus kellogii) young red leaves grow chartreuse and shiny above golden catkins; the evergreen madrones (Arbutus menziesii) are awash in creamy blossoms humming with bees. Flat footsteps-of-spring (Sanicula arctopoides) fade, while its sister-species coastal blacksnakeroot (S. laciniata) and Pacific blacksnakeroot (S. crassicaulis) shoot yellow flowers skyward, only to be outdone by purple shoe buttons (S. bipinnatifida). Bright California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) clamor from the hillsides, while red larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule) and magenta shooting-stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii) soften rocky banks. And, of course, the calypso orchids (Calypso bulbosa) nod like tiny pink stags below giant conifers.
So many more plants are blooming than I have space to list! The Marin Chapter of the California Native Plant Society keeps a log of sightings; they and several other groups lead hikes in the area. Or, just come out to the Mountain and see what’s up!