[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly clear
Mostly clear
82°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 22
2000 - Historic Larinan house in Pico Canyon burns down [story]


Let's Go Outside | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Feb 21, 2013

evelynevandersande_mugFacebook is a wonderful tool, allowing us much more rapid communication. In January, a young woman sent us a photo from a bush covered with pink blossoms, and we all celebrated. The chaparral currant was officially in bloom, and it was the first sign of the coming spring.

That was great news. In this strange world we live in, where so many things are changing, I find great comfort in observing the constant cycle of the seasons. We can count on that remaining the same year after year, and seeing all of the “firsts of the season” are a reason to be excited and pleased.

Chaparral currant

Chaparral currant

You should know there is a short walk at Placerita called “Bloom of the Season” on the fourth Saturday of the month from 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. The chaparral currant is one of my favorites; it blooms in winter and early spring when some bright color and fresh blooms are so welcome. The clusters of pink flowers are really pretty; the small and slightly fuzzy leaves have a delicious scent, too. Rub them through your fingers and the smell is acidic and pungent. The leaves smell like blackcurrant, a related plant that is popular in Europe (you might know the liqueur, cassis). Strangely enough, the fruit is not flavorful. They are small, black berries with a powder-like coating that the birds always see first before you get a chance to have a taste. The native Americans used the roots for toothache.

Wild cucumber

Wild cucumber

Another first flower of the year is the wild cucumber, and you can find them everywhere. They are a vine with tendrils that cascade from trees and bushes, creeping on the ground until they can find some support and then climb up toward the light. Their fast growth pattern is really exuberant and their fresh, new, light green color shows them as one of the newcomers of the season.

Their flowers are small and white, with both male and female flowers growing on the same plant. Usually, the fruit starts developing while the female flower is still open. The fruit looks weird: a green, 3- to 5-inch-long capsule shaped like a hand grenade, covered with one-half to 1-inch-long sharp spikes.

You have to hold them gingerly. The capsule hangs down on a strong, short stalk and splits open at the end when ripe, to release the four to 12 brown seeds that are contained in four chambers. The fruit and seeds are poisonous. The brown, dry pods remain on the plant for some time and look like bath loofahs. Kids are always intrigued by them and ask if they are nests.

The wild cucumber is also called a man root. It grows from a large root – sometimes as heavy as 100 pounds. The more you learn about nature, the more intriguing it is: Wild cucumber is a common vine, so it is strange to imagine all of those man roots under the ground, forming almost a battalion.

Wild peony

Wild peony

Another photo we received on Facebook was from a lady who wanted us to identify a wild peony. The blossom was beautiful, and we asked right away where she had seen it. They do not last long, and if you want to see them in bloom, you have just a small window of opportunity.

Not too many wild flowers have the impact of the wild peony. The blossom is gorgeous, almost exotic looking. It could be our wild orchid of Placerita. They are dark red with five to six petals, but the flower does not open completely like the cultivated peony and remains in a cupped shape.

This is the only variety found in our area naturally. They seem to come back in the same area year after year, a beautiful large flower on a single stalk. It was used by the native Americans for medicinal purposes – as a powder to cure colds and sore throat, and as a tea against menstrual pain and depression.

Those wild peonies make a lasting impression when you are lucky enough to see one in bloom. They are not really rare but are certainly not plentiful, either.

Hoary-leaved ceanothus

Hoary-leaved ceanothus

You might think, “Why should I read about flowers I have never seen? “ This why I chose ceanothus as the next flower. You all have seen it even if you did not know the name of it, and the show is going to start in the next few weeks, so I want you to be to able to know what is going on.

The hills around Santa Clarita are covered with the bush called hoary-leaved ceanothus, and they will explode in white blossom. It is spectacular. The smell is sweet and strong like honey.

When the blossoms are finished, another ceonothus takes over with a dark purplish-blue bloom, and that is hairy-leaved ceanothus. You might have heard the common name, wild lilac. Both of those flowers are saponic, meaning that if you rub some water and those blossoms in your hands, you will develop a lather. Surely the native Americans were aware of this property. We were told the Tatatiam, the local tribe, bathed every day.

I wanted to share with you some of the excitement of the coming spring. Look for signs all around you, and let’s enjoy all those “firsts” together: first bud, first baby birds, and first leaves. Happy Spring!

 

Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at Placerita Canyon Nature Center for 27 years. She lives in Newhall.

 

Wild cucumber

Wild cucumber

eve022113c

Wild peony

eve022113a

Chaparral currant

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

No Comments

    Leave a Comment


    Opinion Section Policy
    All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
    Read More From...
    RECENT COMMENTARY
    Monday, Jul 2, 2018
    In her July message, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste wishes residents a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July, and recaps a bit of local history.
    Sunday, Jul 1, 2018
    The Mojave rattlesnake or “Mojave green” is a highly irritable and unpredictable pit viper. By comparison, the Pacific rattlesnake you might be accustomed to is fairly tame.
    Friday, Jun 15, 2018
    Your rights guarantee that you get the health services the law says you can get, protect you against unethical practices, and ensure the privacy of your personal and medical information. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and to be protected from discrimination.
    Friday, Jun 15, 2018
    California voters just bought the feel-good tax proposition that was stated to raise yet another $4 billion for “clean water” funds. Days later, Brown declared it isn’t enough. There will be another ballot measure in November to raise another $8 billion.
    Friday, Jun 8, 2018
    Our state leaders are finally working together to address one of the greatest inequities in higher education – funding for California community colleges that serve high need students.
    Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018
    Not every decision on the table must be made within the next week. When it comes to deciding how to fund community colleges, it would be wise to hit pause and devote more careful consideration to the discussion.

    Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
    2000 - Historic Larinan house in Pico Canyon burns down [story]
    1952 - 7.5-magnitude Kern County earthquake devastates Tehachapi; damage spread from San Diego to Las Vegas [story]
    The L.A. County Superior Court on July 17 sided with Los Angeles County and dismissed a portion of Chiquita Canyon LLC's complaint, which challenged 13 conditions of the county's conditional use permit governing how the landfill operates, Supervisor Kathryn Barger announced Friday.
    Court: Chiquita Landfill Must Comply with CUP, Pay County $12 Mil.
    Four men allegedly stole a van and crashed it at Cinema Drive and Valencia Boulevard late Friday afternoon, breaking gas and water lines and snarling rush-hour traffic in the center of the city.
    Suspected Van Thieves Crash, Rupture Gas, Water Lines in Valencia
    The Los Angeles County Arts Commission has announced $4,518,000 in two-year grants to 216 nonprofit arts organizations through its Organizational Grant Program, and the Santa Clarita Philharmonic Orchestra and the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival are among the grantees.
    Santa Clarita Philharmonic, Shakespeare Festival Win County Arts Grants
    The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency's board of directors voted in its Tuesday meeting to revise its per-diem payment policy for board members attending industry-related meetings and conferences.
    SCV Water Board Trims Own Meeting Attendance Pay
    College of the Canyons men's basketball player Robert Moss will continue his playing career at University of Saint Katherine after committing to join the Firebirds program.
    COC Hoopster Robert Moss Commits to University of Saint Katherine
    When wives earn more than their husbands, a puzzling thing can happen: Husbands say they earn more than they are and wives underreport their income, according to new Census Bureau research.
    Census Research: Spouses Report Earnings Differently When Wives Earn More
    Responding to a booming economy and a generous state budget, administrators on Thursday approved the first tuition decrease for the University of California system in nearly 20 years.
    University of California Cuts Tuition for First Time in 20 Years
    The William S. Hart Union High School District and Spirit Holding, developers of Castaic High School, will host a community kick-off event on Friday, Aug. 3, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. celebrating the one-year countdown to the grand opening of the new school, currently under construction.
    Aug. 3: ‘Countdown to Castaic High’ Public Celebration
    The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, July 24, starting at 9:30 a.m.
    July 24: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
    The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Alert for Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24, as high temperatures have been forecast for the Santa Clarita Valley.
    SCV Heat Alert Called for Monday, Tuesday
    The Lancaster JetHawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but two late home runs from Stockton's Sandber Pimentel led the Ports to victory in a 5-4 final on Thursday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
    Lancaster Can’t Stop Pimentel, Ports
    The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Department of Justice have made public the government's plan for the court-ordered reunification of children ages 5 years and older who were separated from their parents by immigration authorities.
    Feds Detail Plan to Reunite Immigrant Children with Parents
    2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]
    During a press conference on Thursday at the Gerdau steel mill in Rancho Cucamonga, Chief Eric Parra announced the destruction of 3,566 weapons confiscated within in Los Angeles County. This event comes typically in July, in compliance with California Penal Code 18005(c), which calls for weapons unable to be sold to the public or returned to their owners, to be destroyed.
    More than 3,500 Weapons Destroyed at Annual Destruction Event
    The Summer Art Festival, at the Oaks Club of Valencia, invites you to a fun, free artists’ reception on Saturday, Aug. 11, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
    Aug. 11: Summer Art Festival at Oaks Club
    When you think "Advanced Manufacturing," Santa Clarita Valley probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
    SCV Paves the Way for Advanced Manufacturing
    (CN) – Delivering a blow to a Silicon Valley billionaire, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday erased a November ballot measure proposing to divide the Golden State in three.
    State Supreme Court Tosses Ballot Measure to Split California in Three
    Internationally famous Doña Oxford aka “The Goddess of Soul,” is fronting one of the hottest Blues bands of the 21st century. She has toured all over the world, bringing her amazing keyboard playing and vocals to devoted fans in Europe, Japan, Canada and the United States.
    July 20: Valencia Jazz & Blues Series to Feature Doña Oxford
    No business is immune from the unthinkable. Workplace violence is an increasingly important topic for organizations of all types.
    Aug. 21: Active Shooter Awareness Training at VIA Luncheon
    St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish Church is holding their 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show Friday, Aug. 24 from 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
    Aug. 24: St. Kateri 2nd Annual Summer Night Car Show
    The Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative and Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Thursday launched the Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal, dubbed LA-HOP, the new Countywide Web-based portal that channels outreach support to people experiencing homelessness.
    County Launches Online Portal to Combat Homelessness
    LOS ANGELES - Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced Tuesday the company is now offering $75 rebates for residential customers who purchase eligible Energy Star certified smart thermostats that help residents manage their heating and cooling costs and conserve energy.
    SoCal Gas Offering Rebates for Customers with Smart Thermostats
    STOCKTON – Brian Serven put together one of his best offensive performances of the season to lead the JetHakwks to a 7-2 to win over the Stockton Ports on Wednesday night at Banner Island Ballpark.
    Serven Leads JetHawks to Victory in Series Opener Against Stockton
    The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Brad Renison to become the new Director of Transportation. Most recently, Mr. Renison has been serving as the Interim Director of Transportation.
    Hart District Names Brad Renison New Transportation Director
    LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired four-time All-Star shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera.
    Dodgers Acquire 4-Time All-Star Manny Machado
    The William S. Hart Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Dr. Catherine Nicholas to become the new principal of Sequoia School.
    Hart District Appoints Dr. Catherine Nicholas as New Sequoia School Principal
    Welcome to paradise at a high-energy, live show coming up in Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park series, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union, this Saturday, July 21, at 7:00 p.m., in Central Park (27150 Bouquet Canyon Road).
    July 21: Concerts in the Park to Feature Green Day Tribute Band
    SCV Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit deputies and station detectives have noted an increase in the thefts of catalytic converters from cars in Santa Clarita Valley. The favored target of thieves has been the Toyota Prius (2005-2009).
    Deputies Warn of Rise in Catalytic Converter Thefts from Prius Cars
    LOS ANGELES – According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, air quality will be unhealthy Thursday for sensitive individuals in San Gabriel Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope Valley.
    Air Quality Advisory Issued for SCV
    Would you like to be a volunteer at beautiful Red Rock Canyon State Park? Learn about the volunteer program and the park’s natural and cultural history at our two-day volunteer training, Saturdays, Sept. 1st and 8th from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at the Ricardo Visitor Center (new volunteers must attend both days).
    Red Rock Canyon State Park to Hold 2-Day Volunteer Training
    The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announces the scheduled closure of the Tejon Safety Roadside Rest Areas on Interstate 5 (Golden State Freeway) to replace a water main line.
    Caltrans Announces Temporary Rest Area Closure on I-5 at Tejon
    1924 - Sherman Block, L.A. County's 29th Sheriff (1982-1998), born in Chicago [story]
    Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies have arrested a Santa Clarita woman who allegedly spray-painted walls on a city park building in Saugus early Tuesday morning, also discovering she was allegedly in possession of forged checks.
    Woman Charged with Defacing Park Building, Check Forgery
    The Paramount Network has set Aug. 11 as the premiere date of 'I Am Paul Walker,' a new film documentary tracing the life of the late actor, who was killed in a 2013 car crash in Valencia.
    Aug. 11: Paul Walker Film Doc to Debut on Paramount Network