Salvia apiana

Our white (sacred) sage plant was being crowded by a bush sunflower. In pruning back the sunflower, I inadvertently broke two of the sage’s growing tips. I hope I can strike the cuttings—I‘ve had good success with basil; fingers crossed on the sage.

Salvia apiana is an evergreen perennial shrub that is native to these parts, though it wasn’t growing on our block until I planted it. It is widely used by Native American peoples on the Pacific coast of the United States, medicinally and ceremonially. Illegal poaching of wild white sage populations for the commercial sale of ’smudge sticks’ is a concern held by many; if you purchase such a product, you are contributing to the world-wide demand that fuels the poaching. Instead, consider growing your own sacred sage.

Cardamine californica

It was so nice to see the first milkmaids this morning!

Milkmaids (Cardamine californica) are some of the first wildflowers to appear in the Santa Monica Mountains each year, showing up in winter and early spring. This member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) family likes shady, moist hillsides or stream banks in riparian areas. Each flower is about 12mm in diameter with four white to pink petals. The flower closes its petals in late afternoon as the sun goes down and nods its pedicel before a rain, protecting the pollen. It is perennial—after flowering and setting seed, it dies back to its roots where it goes dormant until next year’s rains awaken it.

I hiked this trail once before, in summer 2016, and had a bit of a heat exhaustion incident. I was alone at the time. I remember feeling very dizzy and nauseated, and crawling into the scant shade of a tree to rest and cool down. Luckily today was perfect hiking weather. No hyperthermia involved.