The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Guide to Wildflowers: Photos & Voices

Sunol Wilderness Regional Preserve

Sabercat Historical Park

Mount Diablo State Park

Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area

Coyote Hills Regional Park


Q: What is your favorite place to see wildflowers? Any specific hikes or trails? Why do these spots stand out?

“In the Bay Area, one of the most magical places I’ve seen is actually called Russian Ridge. It’s in the peninsula and the mountains. I’ve only seen a super bloom there [once]. It was actually right at the beginning of the pandemic, so when everyone was super sad. We just stumbled upon it. We didn’t expect to see a super bloom, but basically the entire hill was covered with poppies.” — Science Teacher Oana Seremeta

“I love seeing wildflowers anywhere, even around the neighborhood and in vacant lots!  There is no specific place I go to see wildflowers, but in general I love seeing them in more natural settings (like regional parks and other public lands).  Recently, I visited Carrizo Plain National Monument which had vast areas of wildflowers and grasses in bloom.  (Grasses produce “flowers” too!)  Places like this stand out because they are natural, open spaces where wildflowers and grasses thrive. Here, I got to drive my car on unpaved roads through the open grassland. Being immersed with the wildflowers and green grasses that were flowing in the wind — while feeling like I was off-roading — was an awesome experience. I appreciate flowers and plants for different reasons. If I had to pick favorites for aesthetic reasons alone, then I’d choose alstroemeria and ranunculus. If I had to pick my overall favorite, then it’d be sage (Salvia microphylla). For the alstroemeria and ranunculus, they just look beautiful to me.  For the sage, I love them not only because they look good, but they also are resilient and well adapted for California’s climate. When I see wildflowers in bloom, I feel an appreciation for life, a refreshment of life, and a sense of beginning, and peace.  This is probably because springtime is the time when we emerge from winter, not just visually speaking, but symbolically and metaphorically as well.  Plants essentially need warm temperatures, ample rainfall and open space. In California, the main limiting factor is rainfall since we are prone to droughts.  The longer our drought years are, the less water plants get to grow and flower.” — Science Teacher Lisa Ishimine


Q: What is a memorable experience you had while viewing wildflowers? 

“When I was a kid, my parents would always take me to my grandfather’s cabin, which was out in the middle of nowhere, and there were no other kids there. And I would just run around, and I would collect rocks and leaves and chase after lizards. And I think that’s what made me into a naturalist… Whenever I see flowers, it’s very common. It causes me to slow down. And you know, just to appreciate the beauty of nature and get away from technology, because that can be very stressful. So plants are very peaceful.” — Science Teacher Karrie Ware


Q: Have you ever seen a super bloom before?

“A few years back, I got to see one of the super blooms in Death Valley. That was kind of magical. Seeing the desert covered in flowers? It’s pretty cool. There’s these beautiful yellow flowers–they call them desert gold–and it’s just kind of carpets the area, and then some of the cacti bloom, so those are red and purple. So if you can see flowers in places where you don’t expect, that’s also really cool.” — Science Teacher Oana Seremeta

“I’ve seen some beautiful super blooms before out in the desert. As you know, it comes for instance, after you have some rain. In fact, it’s not just having the rain, but usually what ends up happening is that you’ve got seeds that have been sort of building up, and they haven’t germinated yet and this has been going on for a while. So you kind of have a dry period for a while. And the seeds build up and then you have this rain, and then that’s when you get all of this beautiful bloom. And it’s not just the beautiful bloom that comes from the wildflowers — which is pretty gorgeous — but you can also get super blooms from the cactus too, which are really magnificent.” — Science Teacher Karrie Ware


Q: What emotions do you associate with flowers, and why?

“I think that like most people, I think of happy and loving emotions or memories when talking about flowers … I associate flowers with happiness because whenever I give people flowers or when I get flowers it always makes me feel happier.” — Janelle Chen, 9

“[With] wildflowers, I feel a lot more pleasant feelings. I kind of feel like I’m back to my childhood.” — Cecilia Kim, 12 


Q: What is your favorite kind of flower? Does it have a certain symbol or meaning to you?

“My favorite kind of flower is jasmine, because they used to hand out [those] flowers on the streets of India. They come up to you and are like, ‘Hey, do you want flowers?’ I’d say yeah, and we’d buy some and then we’d put it in our hair so everyone smelled really nice.” — Aarna Makam, 11

“I think the lupines are always gorgeous. I like purple and looking at the lupines, and then of course setting it off with all the California poppies. The only thing that’s so hard about it is that they come and go so quickly. So you got to make sure that you get out there in time and see it. But maybe that’s also part of the reason why they’re so lovely. Like, I guess, in Japan, they have the cherry blossom. And it’s kind of the whole idea of enjoying life because it’s just a moment and then it’s gone. So maybe it’s kind of the same thing with the wildflowers too.” — Science Teacher Karrie Ware

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