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Archive for February 27, 2008

Wednesday, 27 February 2008 – Looking for Dudleyas

Eunice and I met as arranged at 10 a.m. at the Dominguez Rancho Adobe, where the Long Beach C&S Society meet. We had a more detailed look around the cactus garden that the club maintain in this estate, which is a retirement home for the clergy. I had a nice chat with one of them who had lived for 15 years in Hayes, Middlesex, England.

From here we went to the coast. Eunice drove, which gave me a welcome break. Driving in the L.A. area is relatively straight forward, but the 7 lanes each way on the highways can be a little intimidating. As everybody goes the same speed (65 miles per hour), it is difficult to switch lanes when traffic is dense and you need to get to the slow lane for your exit. So it’s a case of aim & pray, which has worked OK for me so far. Keeping fingers crossed. When driving in the slow lane, you have to avoid getting into the MUST TURN RIGHT AT NEXT EXIT part when all you want to be is set up nicely for the exit after that.

Eunice took me to the very wealthy Palos Verdes Peninsula where the Drive of that name is a very scenic drive along the Ocean, with views across the Pacific to Santa Catalina Island. We found a car park near the Point Vincent Lighthouse and then followed a coast path first along the cliff’s edge, and later on down the cliff to the rocky Ocean shore – no sandy beaches here.

Eunice is fanatical about Dudleya and here they grew along the higher cliff edges. They had come out of their winter rest due to recent rains that had been heavier than usual. I learned on the TV that El Nina was blamed / credited for these rains.  What ever the cause, the end result was plants that grow in very scenic places and were beginning to get a white farina cover that will make them attractive plants once it gets too hot for me to admire them.

Eunice had brought along a CSSA journal from 2004 that was dedicated entirely to the genus, which occurs mainly in the Californias, either side of the border. From this, I learned that the Genus was proposed by Britton & Rose, is named after William Russell Dudley (and not Dudley Gold as I had thought) and currently contains 35 species and 28 subspecies covered in 3 subgenera. The classification is further complicated by plants that can be variable and some populations may justify separate new taxa descriptions. The plants we saw today were D. lanceolata and D. virens, but at times forms living in the shade looked like different species compared to those growing exposed on cliffs in full sun. All I have to do know is decide which plants I photographed are which species. Their niche habitat here was on rocky outcrops, where few if any other plants could compete for soil and light.

Our third stop of the day (I’m now up to S843) was farther along Palos Verdes Drive at ‘Portuguese Bend’, where again we found D. lanceolata & D. virens. At both locations there were also a Platyopuntia sp. and Cylindropuntia sp, but the dominant plants where imports:  Carpobrotus chilensis and Mesembryanthemum crystalina, which were so successful that they were squeezing the native plants out.

Tomorrow is going to be a rest day, dedicated to doing my washing, as I’ve nearly run out of clean stuff half way through this trip.  In the evening, Eunice is taking me to the Orange County C&S Society evening, where Tim Harvey, originally from Birmingham, UK, is the guest speaker. I have now also been invited to speak at the Los Angeles C&S Society (March 6) which has thrown plans out a bit, so I’m rearranging things to avoid too many trips up and down between L.A. and S.D.

Eyes getting tired. More tomorrow.