Two favorite photos from our chronicle of polypodium californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, California polypody.
I like this crop of from the polypody photo of July 1 for its abstract view of the dying fern fronds being drained of their color.
And the rebirth in early September, emerging from the mulch of chopped-up fronds and oak leaves. The center stalk unfurls and then the side leaves also unfurl. The exposure is .6 seconds at f/22, to maximize depth of field.
Some of our newly planted ferns turned brown last summer. They were pretty, and we didn’t know what we had done wrong.
We eventually learned that the fern, polypodium Californicum ‘Sarah Lyman’, or California polypody fern, is summer dormant. Wikipedia says “In plant physiology, dormancy is a period of arrested plant growth. It is a survival strategy exhibited by many plant species, which enables them to survive in climates where part of the year is unsuitable for growth, such as winter or dry seasons.” California has a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and very little rain for 6 months, a harsh climate for plants. The polypody adapted to our dry summers by going dormant.
This year we documented the polypody’s summer dormancy.
On May 30 the polypody is looking good. The fronds are 1′ tall, growing in the shade of a coast live oak tree, quercus agrifolia.
A month later, the polypody is fading fast.
Two weeks later, the polypody is brown. We subsequently cut up the fronds and left them as mulch.
But in late August, fronds begin to emerge from the leaf litter.
And shoots continue to emerge two weeks later.
California has a tough climate for plants, with little rainfall during the warm summers, when plants need moisture the most. Some California native plants like the polypody have adapted by going dormant during the summer.
My uncle led a hike up the Nuuanu Trail into the Koolau Range above Honolulu, with a 1200′ elevation gain. He’s run this trail with friends for years.
From downtown Honolulu, drive up the Pali Highway past Punchbowl, turn right on Nuuanu Pali Drive, and drive about a mile to the small brown trail sign on the right.
This is an upscale neighborhood. The photo below shows a backyard pond that takes advantage of Nuuanu Stream, which drains the Nuuanu Valley. Up the valley toward the Pali, rain obscures the mountains. George Clooney’s house in “The Descendants” is nearby. We saw the corner where Clooney ran to his friend’s house to ask about his wife’s affair.
From the trailhead, start up the Judd Trail, cross the Nuuanu Stream, and enter the grove of Norfolk Island pines. The trees grow a new ring of branches each year, an easy way to tell the age of a tree.
At the trail junction, take the Nuuanu Trail, which gets progressively steeper. From the top of the ridge, there are views of Honolulu and a tree to climb.
Ferns and moss grow from lava next to the trail.
On the way back we crossed Nuuanu Stream again, hopping from rock to rock. The Stream looks quiet now, but over the millennia it has carved a deep valley into the lava of the Koolau Range.
We saw only one other hiker during the 3-hour hike, and there were no mosquitos. A very nice hike to get grounded with nature, with views and interesting terrain, a few miles from downtown Honolulu.