Plants of Twin Peaks

On a moderate 4-mile hike, you'll pass some of the most interesting and beautiful plants in Mount Diablo State Park in California. Learn all about them via the 21 videos below. Sponsored by Mount Diablo Interpretive Association, 2013. Featuring Sue Donecker, Ken Lavin, Jim Mitchell, Frank Valle-Riestra, and Mike Woodring, with Carl Magruder as John Muir. Map by Mike Woodring. Music by Phil Heywood.

Where we’re headed and what we’re likely to see. First up: buttercups and Ithuriel’s spear.
Speakers: Jim Mitchell, Frank Valle-Riestra, Sue Donecker. Music: “Medley: Spirituals in C,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood
Along Oak Road, you’ll see mighty, old oaks festooned with mistletoe. Ken Lavin explains the biology and cultural history of this semi-parasitic plant.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photo: mistletoe flower © Neal Kramer, Kramer Botanical 
As you head up to Mitchell Rock, you’ll encounter two of the mountain’s three pine species. Learn about their edible nuts, how they got their names, and how to tell them apart.
Speakers: Ken Lavin and Carl Magruder as John Mui
In old England, people believed that a plant’s appearance hinted at how it might be used by people. That’s how Mount Diablo ended up with plants called “hound’s tongue,” “toothwort” (milkmaid), and “figwort” (bee plant)—all of which you can see along the Twin Peaks loop.
Speaker: Ken Lavin
This mound of pillow basalt is the perfect place for a short course in Mount Diablo geology, from Mount Zion (the quarry across the valley) to the ancient rocks on the summit.
Speakers: Ken Lavin, Frank Valle-Riestra. Music: “Fred Meets Joni,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood. Photo: pillow basalt on ocean floor, NOAA 
Learn how our state flower was named and why the “type specimen”—the flower that all other poppies are compared with—resides in Russia.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photos: Poppy illustration: Favorite Flowers of Garden and Greenhouse, Edward Step and William Watson, 1896; Illustration Peter Schlemihl, 1814.
One is useful and edible; the other is pretty and poisonous. Learn to tell them apart and why the poisonous one was named after our first state senator.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photos: Portrait of Fremont by George Peter Alexander Heally; portrait of Thomas Hart Benton by Ferdinand Thomas Lee Boyle.
Parasites can be pretty.
Speaker: Ken Lavin
Learn how a town’s name changed from “The Deadfall” to “Clayton” with the toss of a pioneer’s coin.
Speaker: Ken Lavin, Frank Valle-Riestra. Music: “Movin’ With the Moon,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood. Photos: portrait of Joel Clayton, Clayton Historical Society; photo of Geological Survey camp, Save Mount Diablo.
Starting with an expedition in 1824, Scottish botanist David Douglas collected New World plants and sent them back to the Royal Horticultural Society in London. Among the discoveries that grow along the Twin Peaks Loop: poison oak, currant, Chinese houses, baby blue eyes, blue oak, and Mount Diablo globe lily.
Speaker: Ken Lavin
Featuring coyote mint, larkspur (purple and red), and lupine.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photos: lupine seedpod:© Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College
Great place for lunch. On a clear day, you’ll enjoy tremendous views, from the Delta to the Mount Diablo summit. The vultures, swifts, and swallows like it, too.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Music: “Old Man River/One Funky Dime,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood Photos: fire, USDA; hikers in Back Canyon after the 1977 fire, Bill Sattler, Save Mount Diablo
Black sage, pitcher sage, and California sage: they can all be used to flavor your Thanksgiving turkey, but only one is closely related to the herb you buy in the store.
Speakers: Sue Donecker, Ken Lavin 
You’ve gained over a thousand feet—a good day’s work! Your reward is spectacular views to the west.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Music: “Movin’ With the Moon,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood
An herb of “a thousand leaves,” named after an ancient war hero.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photo: Triumphant Achilles, by Franz Matsch, 1892/Wikipedia Commons
We pause here to ponder junipers, pines and Aeolian harps, before heading down into the chaparral.
Speakers: Ken Lavin, Frank Valle-Riestra. Music: “Folk Song,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood. Photos: male juniper, Charles Webber © California Academy of Sciences; wrentit, planephotoman/Wikipedia Commons; thrasher, Kevin Cole/Creative Commons
The white flowers of this chaparral plant light up whole hillsides in the spring.
Speaker: Ken Lavin
Ceanothus comes in white (“buckbrush”) and blue (“jimbrush”). Some species have earned another name: the “wait-a-moment” bush, for having twigs that snag your pantlegs.
Speaker: Ken Lavin
Toyon, also known as “Christmasberry” or “Hollywood,” uses chemical warfare to protect its ripening berries.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photos: toyon with green berries by Steven Kaune © California Academy of Sciences
You’ll encounter two vining plants: one with man-sized roots and cucumber-like fruits; the other with an “old man’s beard.”
Speaker: Ken Lavin
Amid the craggy oaks and sprawling meadows, don’t forget to look back at views of North Peak, the Diablo summit, Twin Peaks, and Mitchell Rock. On a spring day, check the pond ahead for reptiles and amphibians.
Speakers: Sue Donecker, Ken Lavin. Music: “Dulcimer Melody,” You Got to Move, Phil Heywood. Photos: Pacific chorus frog in pond, Judy Adler; chorus frog on land, Creative Commons.
“Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? That damned elusive Pimpernel!” Meet the flower that became the calling card of an English outlaw.
Speaker: Ken Lavin. Photos: single flower: Jacques Milan/Creative Commons; postcard of actor Fred Terry in 1905 production of the Scarlet Pimpernel/Wikipedia

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