Recently I took advantage of a warm spring day and joined in on a Nature Walk at the Big Bear Discovery Center. The naturalist that lead the tour, Joe, was a fountain of knowledge and at the beginning of the tour jokingly said that there would be a quiz at the end. Memories of school days must have scared my mind into sharp attention because I retained more information than I expected. Here is a bit that I can pass on to you, although I reserve the right to blame any false information on rusty test taking skills.
- Yellow Rabbitbrush or Chrysothamnus Viscidiflorous (ok, I looked up the scientific name but I promise the rest is all from memory) is so named because it is one of the only plants that rabbits won’t eat!
- If you smell the bark of a Jeffrey pine when it has been warmed by the sun, the aroma of vanilla will greet you. Now during hikes I sniff the bark of trees, I feel silly but I can’t stop!
- The San Bernardino mountains have an estimated population of 350 - 400 California black bears and has no grizzly bears. California grizzly bears did once roam our valley but the last of them were killed off long ago, at which point the California black bear was introduced into the area.
- The bats that inhabit our valley are “microbats” and feed primarily on insects, thus making themselves invaluable to those of us humans that aren’t fond of insects!
- The bright green lichen that is seen on dead branches throughout the forest is a combination of algae and fungus. (See the picture above)
- Manzanita means “little apple” in Spanish. The small red berries that grow on Manzanita bushes are edible, but I was assured that they definitely don’t taste like apples.