the oak savanna

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.

poppy field

California poppies dotted the hillsides, especially in the rocky and sandy areas. They seem to grow best where there are serpentine soils.

serpentine rock and flowers-

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.

serpentine rock-

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.

sky lupine

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.

oak savanna

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.

2 thoughts on “the oak savanna

  1. Hi Sue, nice pictures.
    I wonder if you can tell me how/where to find the serpentine rock formations in quicksilver park ?
    Thanks David
    in Burlington Ontario Canada

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