Springtime Festivities in the GGNRA by Angie Wu

New Rare Plants Unlocked!

Introducing this month’s rare plant superstars: Hickman’s potentilla (Potentilla hickmanii) and San Francisco Wallflower (Erysimum franciscanum)! P. hickmanii is found in Rancho Corral de Tierra, which is located in San Mateo County along the coast just north of the town of Montara. Our rare plant survey for this plant was my first time visiting this particular corner of the GGNRA, and I was welcomed by the site with unceasing clouds rolling in from the coast, horses that had uncomfortably similar hairstyles to my own, and angry gusts of wind that threatened my balance throughout the entire day. On the other hand, though we previously encountered E. franciscanum on our surveying trip to Sweeney Ridge in Pacifica, our recent wallflower monitoring activities took place in the Presidio at one of SF Veg’s own sites. It’s great to monitor at a site that we have worked so hard on as a team!

While previous rare plant surveys included searching for and mapping occurrences of plants/plant populations, monitoring Hickman’s potentilla and SF Wallflower required much more focus and attention to detail. For each site that we monitored at, we set up counting lanes for each observer and set out to count every single individual in each lane to get a total number of individuals in a population (in some lanes, we counted over 2000!). In the case of Hickman’s potentilla, we categorized individuals by size too. Although it was tedious work, it was great contributing to the monitoring project as well as getting to work with folks we don’t normally see.

Intern work swap at the Presidio Bluffs one sunny morning!

EFTA cameos!

This past month I finally got several of my fellow EFTA interns to join me at one of our sites to hand weed around our plantings! It was great introducing them to our site, as well as giving them a rundown of our restoration projects there. As we all are a part of different teams in the Natural Resources Division, my work seldom overlaps with theirs and we rarely have a chance to work together.

GOGA intern with Shanelle (+ a couple of our lovely GOGA interns from the 2022-2023 cohort)

Additionally, my team also hosted a division-wide meeting at Fort Funston, where we highlighted our recent work restoring the dune habitat there, which supports a variety of native plants as well as a few rare annual wildflowers. Following the talk about our work, we put the NR Division to work by having everyone pull non-native annual grasses at our site (might as well put them to work while we have them there!). Additionally, Shanelle, our internship coordinator at EFTA, made a special appearance during this NR meeting, and we celebrated her visit with a nice dinner in Sausalito that evening. It was lovely meeting her and spending time with my fellow interns (I adore them very much)!

Pinnacles: Plants, Precipitation, and Perserverance

Although it may seem like it, my position is so much more than just pulling weeds and managing volunteer programs in San Francisco. It’s actually pulling weeds and managing volunteer programs outside of San Francisco too (haha)! This April, I had the amazing opportunity to head to Pinnacles National Park on a volunteer camping trip with folks from the Habitat Restoration volunteer team and interns from both NPS and the Presidio Trust. Upon arrival, we were met by strong winds and sheets of rain, which persisted for a day and a half. Despite the rain, however, we still mustered enough energy to frolic through the grasslands of Pinnacles, identifying plants new to us and pulling invasive thistles over the course of the afternoon.

There is no doubt that the rain and cold were really challenging conditions to work in. However, it was an amazing trip overall that I am glad I attended because I had the opportunity to visit other parts of the park when the weather cleared the final day of our trip. After making some new friends and somewhat commiserating in the elements, we visited some caves and hiked through some of the crags of the park, where there were beautifully flowing waterfalls due to the rain that the park received the day before. It is definitely a trip that I will remember for a long time!

Naturalist Finds

Gilia capitata (dune gilia)

I have spent a lot of time working in gilia habitat over the past 6 months, so it is really lovely to see them finally starting to bloom!

Castilleja exserta (Purple owl’s clover)

Found this beauty at Pinnacles! It is such a vibrant purple and much smaller than the other castillejas I am used to seeing.

Castilleja wightii (Wight’s Paintbrush)

It looks like the petals are on fire!

Potentilla hickmanii (Hickman’s potentilla)

She’s so cute:)

Velella velella (by the wind sailor)

These guys were all washed up on Rodeo Beach. They look like aliens of sorts.

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