By Wendy Langhans
A vivid flash of pink caught my eye as we drove past. But almost as quickly as I asked, “Could you please pull over”, my husband was looking for a safe spot to stop. We were driving along San Francisquito Canyon Road, enjoying a lovely spring morning. I had brought my camera along, just in case we spotted any wildflowers.
At first glance, I thought I had spotted a California wild rose (Rosa californica). But a closer look made me change my mind – this is what a California wild rose should look like (photograph courtesy S. Ioerger).
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So if it wasn’t a California wild rose, what was it? After searching through some wildflower books back home, I decided it might be a Pink Rock rose (Cistus creticus). Just to confirm, I checked it out on the Calphoto website. So far so good. Then, to be double sure, I checked it out on the Calflora website. Darn – it turns out I was wrong again.
You see, even though the common name remained the same, the botanical name had changed from Cistus creticus to Cistus incanus. Or so it said, not just on the Jepson Flora Project’s “Index of California Plant Names”, but also on on the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service “Plants database”. (I don’t know about you – but I’m not about to argue with the fed’s – especially during tax season.)
And to top it off, Pink Rock rose is not a CALIFORNIA NATIVE. It was introduced to California from its native region (North Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe). Because we share a similar Mediterranean ecosystem, it “naturalized”, a botanical term which means “to establish a nonnative species in a region where it is able to reproduce successfully and live alongside native species in the wild.”
But in my research, I did learn two interesting tidbits about Pink Rock rose. Since ancient times, it has been a source of ladanum, a resin used in folk medicine and perfumery. And according to this Israeli website, it’s gathered by goats! “The gum is secreted from glandular hairs on the leaves and young stems, especially under hot sunshine. It was gathered by allowing goats to graze on and among the plants; the ladanum adhered to their beards, which were then cut off.”
Pretty smart goats, eh? They can’t read and don’t know how to use the internet, but they sure know how to recognize Pink Rock rose. After all, a Pink Rock rose, by any other name, tastes as good.
(For a glimpse of Pink Rock rose and other local flowering plants, check out the Facebook page, “90 Days of Santa Clarita Valley Wildflowers”.)
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Saturday, February 12, 1:00-3:00 PM, at Whitney Canyon. Wildlife Crossroads at Whitney Canyon. Big or small, wild animals need large ares of open land to find food, mates and homes for successful survival. Whitney and Elsmere Canyons are at the crossroads of wildlife corridors in the Santa Clarita area. Meet in the parking lot for this easy hike. 2 hrs. For directions and trail maps, click here.
Saturday, February 19, 8:00-10:00 AM, Morning Bird Hike at Towsley Canyon. With our local deciduous trees bare, now is a great time to view exposed nests and homes of our feathered friends. Beginners are welcome. Bring binoculars, easy walk. 2 hrs. For directions and trail maps, click here.
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at email@example.com for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, February 2, 9, 16 & 23.
Saturday mornings, January 12 & 26.
You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on “The SCV Outdoor Report”, brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.
NEW!!! Check out the new Facebook page – L.A. Mountains!!!