By Wendy Langhans
What does the word “season” mean? That depends on who you ask. If you ask a chef, it means “add flavorings to food”. Ask a football fan and they’ll say September through January. Ask a farmer and they’ll say, “when the sweetcorn is ready to pick.” Check the almanac and you’ll find there are four: spring, summer, autumn and winter. Ask a local weather forecaster and they’ll say “as you can see on our exclusive $14.95 doppler HD radar/microwave/blender, we are starting the rainy season”.
But I’ve always been fond of this definition: “a suitable time”. I like this definition because I’ve noticed most things that enrich my life happen “at a suitable time”.
Every week I drive along Lake Hughes Road into the mountains north of the Santa Clarita valley. And every week, no matter what the season, there’s something new to see. In early May, the Yucca whipplei plants were just getting ready to bloom. After several years of growth, the plant decided it was “a suitable time” to produce a 6-12 foot tall flowering stalk.
A week later, most of the blossoms were open and “ready for business”. Their pollinators, the Yucca moths, had emerged from their subterranean cocoons.
But by early October, the “season” was finished. Yesterday, I spotted this Yucca whipplei along the road. It appeared dead – both the basal rosette of leaves and the stems were brown – and the seedpods had split open and the seeds had dispersed.
Not all subspecies of Yucca whipplei have the same reproductive strategies. Some sub-species are iteroparous (multiple reproductive cycles) and some reproduce vegetatively by underground rhizomes. But this subspecies (parishii) was semelparous (reproduces only once in it’s lifetime). It’s “suitable time” for reproduction came and went.
Now it was the “suitable time” for seed dispersal. After all, the seasonal Santa Ana winds (which begin in September) will help disperse the seeds. And the moisture in the ground from the autumn rains will help nourish the seeds when they sprout – at a suitable time.
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We’re going on vacation: “Hugh & Wendy’s Excellent 2011 Adventure”. I’ll be back with new stories on October 28.
Upcoming Outdoor Events:
Trail Maintenance Schedule. Come join our volunteers as they help maintain our trails. Contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org for time and place.
Wednesday mornings, October 5, 12, 19 & 26.
Saturday mornings, October 8 & 22.
Saturday, October 15, 8 – 10 AM. Aloft on the Pacific Flyway. Towsley Canyon. Heading south, a whole new bird-mix is passing through or settling in – which is which? Beginning birders are welcome. Binoculars optional for this easy walk. Meet at Towsley Canyon’s front parking lot.
Sunday, October 30, 4 – 6 PM. Nature’s “Trick or Treat” Hike at Towsley Canyon. “Whooo” are the real “Trick or Treat’ers” at Towsley Canyon? We will meet at the front entrance. For a map and directions, click here.
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.
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