We hiked for an hour at Quicksilver Park in San Jose the other day and were treated to quite a wildflower show as well as an eye-pleasing green scene of oaks and grasses.
California poppies dotted the hillsides, especially in the rocky and sandy areas. They seem to grow best where there are serpentine soils.
Flowers pop up wherever there is enough loose rock to hold water for seed germination, like this ledge in the serpentine rock formation.
Serpentine rock is recognized by its green color, occasionally with magenta highlights. It is really a mineral aggregate formed on on sea floors by the interaction of heat and water containing magnesium, silica, iron, and often several other heavy metals like chromium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel.
Wildflowers literally grow right out of the rocks in this environment. Their roots must probe between tiny rock granules to find water trapped below. Close-up, the serpentine rock is quite colorful.
Lupines are usually eager colonists of bare soil, but the grasslands are pretty well developed here, so there is not much bare ground or many lupines.
Apparently northern California did receive enough rain this winter to green up the hillsides and produce a wildflower show. Dry, rocky hillsides like this one allow the native grasses to flourish without competition from all the species introduced for cattle feed.