Mt Davidson Description
Mt Davidson is the highest hill in San Francisco, and the 40 acre parcel preserved in its park is one of the largest and best of our remnant natural areas. Mt Davidson’s habitat restoration workparties with the Natural Areas Program are official activities of the San Francisco Group of the Sierra Club.
Mt D’s piebald look is due to the different way that Adolph Sutro managed his piece of the hill compared to Leland Stanford. More details here.
The trees on most of Mt D capture vast quantities of fog drip, converting the understory into a rain forest where invasive English ivy, cape ivy, blackberry, and ehrharta grass predominate. Management there involves careful thinning of diseased and failing trees to open up the understory, removal of the overburden of invasive weeds, and planting coastal scrub grasses and forbs and protecting those that arise spontaneously from the remnant seed bank in the soil.
The main issue in the much drier grassland area is invasive annual grasses, though we also battle French broom and radish. Despite the invasive weeds, there is a remarkable collection of native bunchgrasses and many wildflowers still thriving in the grasslands. Here is the management plan.
The juncture between the trees and the grasslands along the north-east corner of Mt D has become one of the most important bird stopovers in the City due to the 13 different species of native berries that grow there. Unfortunately this is exactly the site where the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission planned to trench in a new water main up to the water reservoir at the top of the hill, but fortunately due to volunteer and neighborhood outcries, this plan was shifted to route the pipeline into the noncritical weedy areas under the trees. This work will happen during 2008, and we will be monitoring it closely indeed here at SF Natural Areas.
Regular Workparty Schedule
- 1st Saturday of each month from 10:00 to 12:30
Regular Meeting Location
- 36 Bus Turnaround -- [Map and Details]
Here are blog posts about the Mt Davidson project — presented 2 at a time in reverse chronological order. Browse to earlier or later posts via the pagination controls below.
Our enthusiastic group worked on the T-Rex site this month — so named because the winter storm a couple of years ago knocked down a number of trees in a fashion that looks like a T-Rex rampage was the cause.
The amazing result of this natural clearing is how much native stuff has quickly sprung back once the canopy was reduced and some sunlight could penetrate down to the ground. Now the calamagrostis grass, salal and ferns are most rapidly spreading to fill the empty spaces. In addition, we’ve found lots of wild rose that appears to be very happy now that it has some space to grow:
Right now, Mt D is particularly colorful because the red elderberry’s berries explain exactly how this native shrub/tree got its name:
Walk anywhere on the hill right now and you’ll see lots of elderberry.
Also impressive right now are the lady ferns:
Their fronds are shaped much like bracken fern, though they are much larger and have a more horizontal habit. Look for them along the paths on the north side.
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There was still adequate moisture in the soil, despite a dry March, to weed the grasslands effectively, so that’s what our experienced team of volunteers and staff did this month. These are probably the richest and most important areas on Mt D.
Here Ron expertly snags out the long tap root of the hairy dandelion:
The narrow-leaf mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) are particularly spectacular right now:
Without doubt, though, the most dramatic bloom on the hill is Fritillaria affinis aka mission bells or checker lily:
The most visible problem are the patches of oxalis. This invasive produces small corms that snap off when you pull it, which seems to encourage regrowth. The only successful approach to oxalis is herbicides, but unfortunately the Natural Areas Program staff lack the budget and manpower to deal with these threatening patches right now.
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