Aroused by rain

The appearance of this mushroom after a much-needed rain in the Los Angeles foothills demanded that I Find The Camera. In the interim between putting the photo on Facebook this morning with a request for an ID and getting a response to an e-mailed query from Los Angeles County Natural History Museum mycologist Florence Nishida this evening, speculation as to its genus involved unbridled merriment. Southern California resident treasure, memoirist Erika Schickel, ventured that it was a Micropenisula shlongaeria. My own suspicion had been a Phallus anthonyweinerii. After more ribald speculation and some genuine mycological story-telling on the social network, Nishida’s response by e-mail in early evening had a “eureka” quality.

You are a lucky girl,” she wrote, “nature has gifted you with a stinkhorn, aka phalloid fungus. It’s probably Lysurus borealis, though another species is very common in southern California, Lysurus mokusin. Just looking at your

Where palms belong

Florida photographer Cyde Butcher exhibits wildlife photography in Venice, CA gallery to benefit World Wildlife Fund.

Image of the day: River of No Return

“The Middle Fork of the Salmon is not so much a river as an exuberant expression of water at play,” writes Joel K. Bourne, Jr. “It tumbles and turns and trips over itself for a hundred miles through the largest unbroken wilderness in the lower 48, the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness, named for the pristine Salmon River gorge and the Idaho senator who made sure most of its vast watershed would stay that way. No dams temper its flow. No roads line its banks. It dances down its canyon much as it has since the glaciers receded 10,000 years ago—in spring as a raging, tree-felling torrent, in late summer as a spare, crystalline rivulet.

“Today it is one of the ultimate white-water experiences in the United States, drawing thousands of visitors each year. But 60 years ago its future—and that of hundreds of other rivers across

Image of the Day: Owens Valley

Hat tip to the Great Basin Water Network for forwarding this link to today’s image from NASA Earth Observatory of Owens Valley (formerly lake) in the Eastern Sierra. “The present-day Owens Lake was once part of a much larger lake and river system along the northeastern border of California and Nevada during the Pleistocene Epoch (about 3 million to 12,000 years ago),” reads the NASA caption. “Melt water from alpine glaciers in the Sierra Nevada filled the regional valleys of the Basin and Range to form glacial lakes—ancestors of the now-dry lakebeds (or playas) of Owens, Searles Lake, and China Lake. While Searles and China Lakes dried out because of regional changes to a hotter and drier climate, Owens Lake became desiccated largely due to the diversion of the Owens River in the early 20th century to serve the needs of Los Angeles, 266 kilometers (165 miles) to the south.”

“The drought is over…”

After taking this photograph of a Southland Sod truck on the Santa Monica freeway in Los Angeles, garden designer Catherine McLaughlin said, “I’ve been trying to get it for weeks without crashing my car. I see it everywhere.”

The California “drought” — if water shortages in a naturally dry place can decently be called that — was declared over on March 30th, 2011 after one exceptionally good water year in the Sierra. However, the part that the Southland Sod company didn’t put on this ad was the line from Governor Brown’s proclamation, “It is strongly encouraged that all Californians continue to minimize water usage and engage in water conservation efforts.”

McLaughlin works for the Topanga-based landscape firm Rodriguez & Satterthwaite, and posted this today on that sustainable design-build company’s blog. Hat tip to Kimberly O’Cain, water resources specialist for the City of Santa Monica, for circulating the

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