California Wildflowers and Butterflies on the Tunnel to Nowhere Hike

     In the San Gabriel Mountains north of Azusa is the famous Bridge to Nowhere hike. Above this is the lesser known Tunnels to Nowhere hike.
     Unlike the Bridge hike which follows the valley, this is cut into the edge of the mountain. Walking along this trail in late May, the normal gray chaparral had blossomed into spring.

     I assumed that once I got home, my well stocked local library and the stupendous internet would fund the information on which flowers and butterflies I came across.
     I was only partially right.
     After three hours, four books and more websites that I could shake a mouse at, I was only partially able to identify the spring beauties.

     If anyone who happens upon this post knows more about these flowers or butterflies than I do (that’s not hard to do), please drop me a line. It would be greatly appreciated.

     The first one is easy to identify: Chaparral Yucca (Yucca whipplie) also known as Our Lord’s Candle.

     I think this one is a Lupine.

     This one is strange, it looks like a spider has created a death trap of random webbing surrounding a bush, but it’s all made from small sticks. I have no idea what it is.
–Update: Thanks from Melissa and Dawn this is Witches Hair (Cuscuta californica; California Dodder)

     At first I thought it was a buckwheat, but then I thought it was a goldenrod. But none of those species seem to fit.
–Update, with thanks to Melissa: golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum)

     This one was a little easier: Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata subspecies abrotanifolia) [with a yucca in the background]

     At first I thought it was a phlox, then maybe pansies, but then again it could be a primrose. But again none seem to fit.
–Update: it looks just like Purple Rockcress (Aubrieta deltoidea) except my photograph has fuzzy/spiny branches, while the others do not…

     I know nothing about butterflies. But after extensive research, I now know that this is a Checkerspot Butterfly. I would guess that it is a Variable checkerspot, (Euphydryas chalcedona), but then again it could be a Chalcedon Checkerspot, (Euphydryas chalcedona), which makes it confusing –or maybe simplifying- because they both have the same scientific name.
     But to make it even more confusing there is a chance it could be the Quino Checkerspot, (Euphydryas editha quino), or maybe even the ‘Wright’s’ Leanira Checkerspot, (Chlosyne leanira wrighti).
     But I will, because I am a simple minded person at heart, just think of it as pretty.

     This butterfly is most definitely called the California Sister but I have come across two versions of the scientific name: I lean toward the one with California in it, because I saw the butterfly in California, but really I have no idea. (Adelpha bredowii californica) (Adelpha bredowii eulalia)

     At first I thought it might be some sort of dandelion, but now I have no idea.

     A little knowledge is a horrible thing.

3 Responses to “California Wildflowers and Butterflies on the Tunnel to Nowhere Hike”

  1. Melissa says:

    The one that looks like the spider trap is colloquially called witch’s hair. It’s a parasitic plant, and the Googles have lots of details on individual species.

    I think the thing you thought might be buckwheat is golden yarrow.

    The phlox/pansy plant looks like purple rockcress to me.

    I knew the first two, the third I found by matching the names here:

    with Google image searches, because most of those links are broken.

    Lovely images. Sorry I wasn’t able to hike with you.

  2. Dawn says:

    I got one! Cuscuta californica, or chapparal dodder.