Fabulous sedimentary rock of the 60 million
year old "Carmelo Formation" at Weston Beach
August 8, 2001
"This is so cool!" was the only thing I kept saying when
I was first introduced to Point Lobos
Reserve. It was exceptionally hard to put my
camera away (which, of course, I didn't dare!) Indeed,
this point, on the southern
edge of Carmel Bay, has everything an outdoor fanatic (even an urban
could want: dramatic sea cliffs, sea otters, harbor seals, wildflowers, birdlife,
lots of trails (13 of them!)...and, if you must, nearby Carmel/Carmel Highlands
seaside homes and
resorts as well as shopping in nearby Carmel/Carmel Highlands. I easily passed
developed side of life (well, alright,
I did have to strain my neck to catch a glimpse of the
D.L. James house [Charles
Greene architect]) and headed straight for the plant and scenery haven
within Point Lobos.
The white sands at China Cove help to make the waters glow
emerald on sunlit days. Monterey Pine
(Pinus radiata) forest occupies the South
Plateau (background). Point Lobos is one of only 5 locations
in the world where the Monterey Pine
grows naturally (Ano Nuevo-Swanton area, Monterey-Carmel
area, Cambria, and two islands
offshore Baja California). Despite its limited natural range, this
species has become,
under cultivated and selective breeding efforts, one of the
world's most planted conifer species (Lanner, 1999).
Monterey Cypress (Cypressus macrocarpa) on the trail to
North Point. It is easy to guess the prevailing wind direction with these sculpted
Allan Memorial Grove along the Cypress Grove Trail. Lace lichen
drape gracefully from the branches of these Monterey Cypress trees. The reserve's
cypress prefer the outer granitic cliffs of the area (whereas the Monterey Pine
are located slightly more inland at the reserve). One of only two naturally occurring
populations of Monterey Cypress in the world (the other occurs at Cypress Point, on
the north side of Carmel Bay), this species remains a popular windbreak and ornamental
tree throughout the humid and milder climates of the world (Lanner, 1999).
This fabulous assemblage of bluff lettuce (Dudleya caespitosa) was
found along the Cypress
Grove Trail. (For a closer view of this Dudleya, go to the
Garrapata State Park page). This
weathered and jointed
outcrop of rock belongs to the "Santa Lucia" formation, a coarse grained
granodiorite) that formed 110 million years ago (Point Lobos brochure).
View from the point looking towards Carmel Highlands. Within and atop the
granitic rock of the
sea cliffs reside a myriad of plants: California sagebrush
(Artemesia californica), bluff lettuce,
(lavender aster) (Erigeron glaucus), poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum),
sticky monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), dune buckwheat (Eriogonum
yellow lizardtail (Eriophyllum staechadifolium), and golden
confertiflorum) to name a few.
(left) Buckwheat alongside a salt and sun weathered Monterey
Cypress trunk (gnarled
by its headland exposure).
(right) Monterey Cypress on the Cypress Grove
Trail. A really curious, velvety, rust-colored
algae (Trentepohlia) covered the
shaded side of the
cypress branches along this seaside
exposure. Harmless to the trees,
I'm sure the persistent fogs
that hang close to the shore (owing
to the deep, cold waters of the submarine
canyon just offshore) help to promote its
happiness. Indeed, fog drip is a precious
resource during the summer drought, contributing up to
1/2 inch of water per week.
This dry season resource allows the Monterey Pine and Cypress
populations to thrive in a
climate that would otherwise not be suitable for sustained growth.
One final postcard image. It does seem that I was so carried away with
the scenery that I forgot
to shoot plants... :-)
Lanner, Ronald M. 1999. Conifers of California. Cachuma Press: Los Olivos.
Point Lobos Brochure. 2000. Point Lobos Natural History Association.
Revised: June 21, 2004
This site ©2004 Ann Dittmer.