Serpentine in bloom

A stony hillside is awash in a sea of color. Swatches of yellow, purple, and pink nearly obscure the barren slope, which (other than the flowers) is striking because of how little grows there. This is a serpentine outcrop, and the harsh chemistry of this rock prevents all but a few hardy and specially adapted species from growing.

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One lovely serpentine-dominated outcrop is perched atop Mt. Tamalpais near the Rock Springs parking area, and is in full and glorious bloom right now. I’ll write about each of the different species over the next few days–but the above slideshow celebrates the panorama.

Amazingly, there are even more surprises waiting on the stony hillside. Later in the season other flowers, including buckwheat, Mt. Tamalpais jewelflower and yellow mariposa lily, will appear. But for now there is no sign of them.


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