Table Mountain

Spring is advancing quickly throughout the Sacramento Valley. With below-average rainfall this past winter, it won’t be a great year for wildflowers, but it’s not bad. Some places have already reached their peak for abundance of flowers. Last weekend I joined a group of photographers for an outing sponsored by the Viewpoint Gallery in Sacramento with leader Josh Miller. We gathered at Table Mountain, a nearly-flat mesa of Miocene basalt just north of Oroville, California. It’s a place well known for it’s diversity of native plants and for colorful displays of spring flowers.

Table Mountain

Heading into the flower fields.


Table Mountain

One of several intermittent streams on Table Mountain.


Table Mountain

California goldfields, Lasthenia californica, can tolerate the thinnest of soils.

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Table Mountain

The most abundant flower this day was sky lupine – Lupinus nanus.

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Eschscholzia lobbii

Frying pans – Eschscholzia lobbii, is a smallish cousin of
the California poppy, E. californica.

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Table Mountain

Foothill triteleia, Triteleia lilacina, lives in a narrow band of the lower foothills along
the east edge of the Sacramento and northern San Joaquin Valleys.

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Castilleja exserta

Purple owl’s-clover – Castilleja exserta.

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Mimulus guttatus

Seep monkey flower,  Mimulus guttatus, is abundant in gravels along
Table Mountain’s ephemeral streams.

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Table Mountain

Common meadowfoam, Limnanthes douglasii, is abundant too, but
in deeper wet soils along the streams.

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Parvisedum pumilum

Sierra stonecrop, Parvisedum pumilum, grows in tiny patches of
soil and moss on rocky outcrops.

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Table Mountain

Glandular Clarkia, Clarkia arcuata, is one of many plants here
endemic to the Sierra Nevada foothills.

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Umbilicaria phaea

Most of the “barren” rock outcrops on Table Mountain are far from barren. They’re covered with lichens, including this rock tripe – Umbilicaria phaea.

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Table Mountain

Late in the afternoon we headed to a more distant part of
Table Mountain for some different views.

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Table Mountain

The scattered oaks in this area are valued by cattle for shade — and back-scratching.

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Table Mountain

Table Mountain offers unobstructed views of the Sacramento Valley
and Coast Ranges to the west and here, the Sutter Buttes to the south.

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Table Mountain

A “bonsai” blue oak perched on the edge of a gully, at sunset.

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Table Mountain

Time to head back to the cars …

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Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2013 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.

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About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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