Breakfast at Ursula's

On Sunday we had breakfast with our friend Ursula who lives in downtown Davis. (We live in South Davis, which is separated from downtown by Interstate 80.) The fastest way to get to Ursula's house is through the historic Richards Blvd underpass. I've driven through that underpass hundreds, maybe thousands, of times in the almost twenty years I've lived in Davis, but I've never experienced this:

We had a brief but violent rain storm on Sunday morning that dumped about ⅓" of rain in a short period of time, overwhelming the capacity of drainage pipes and sewers. Crossing this unexpected river in our small Honda Civic was the most excitement I've had all month!

After a wonderful breakfast at Ursula's, we took a walk in the UC Davis Arboretum, located just steps from Ursula's house. I didn't have my camera with me, but that didn't stop me from snapping away on my phone. I'm actually very happy with how these photos turned out. The latest crop of smartphones truly has amazing cameras, especially considering the degree of miniaturization inside!

The first set of photos were taken in Ursula's neighborhood.

Calamondin, thought to be an intergeneric hybrid between a mandarin orange (genus Citrus) and a kumquat (genus Fortunella). The whole fruit is edible; the rind is somewhat sweet (like kumquat) but the juice is so sour that most people wouldn't eat a calamondin like they would a mandarin or orange. Calamondins are widely cultivated in the Philippines where they are used for cooking.

Oranges, perfect now

Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) fruit, knocked off the tree by the high winds
that accompanied the torrential downpour

Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis) fruit

Heavenly bamboo berries (Nandina domestica)

Bougainvillea in Ursula's small garden

Blue sky after torrential rain

Now we're in the UC Davis Arboretum proper.

UC Davis waterhouse seen through a live oak

Recent renovations in Southwest U.S. and Mexican Collection are starting to pay off

Massive Nolina parryi

Seed cones of Mormon tea (Ephedra sp.), native to the Southwest

Mormon tea, the whole plant

Bladderpod (Peritoma arborea, formerly Isomeris arborea), native to the Mojave and Colorado Desert to Baja California

Whale's tongue agave (Agave ovatifolia)

Desert spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri)

Agave parryi and Gaura lindheimeri

Agave schidigera

The red leaves in the tree on the right are actually from the California wild grape (Vitis californica 'Roger's Red')

Vitis californica 'Roger's Red' again

Santa Cruz island ironwood (Lyonothamnus floribundus ssp. aspleniifolius)

Putah Creek

More California wild grape (Vitis californica 'Roger's Red') 

More California wild grape (Vitis californica 'Roger's Red')

The needles are from a Chinese swap cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis)

I was so excited to find this monkey-puzzle tree sapling (Araucaria araucana). It will take decades to grow into a substantial tree, but I'm very glad they added it to their conifer collection.

California sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

California sycamore (Platanus racemosa)

Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

California buckeye (Aesculus californica), its white bark a true standout in the winter

One of several interpretive signs for the Walking in the Woods with Chemistry project. This exhibit is "about molecules produced by plants, how they are used in our daily life, and how these molecules have inspired research on UCD campus."

Toyon, Christmas berry or California holly (Heteromeles arbutifolia). Widespread in California, often seen as a shrub but far more attractive as a tree. It's said that Hollywood is named after the abundance of toyon ("California holly") growing in the hills above Los Angeles.


  1. A very beautiful post ... so cheerful, so colorful, so vivid ... I'm sure my sis who lives on Hemlock will be very happy with your rain as well. Your phone does an amazing job; photos are most excellent (as usual), especially those with trees, those with berries, heck, I can't pick a favorite this time! Maybe the gray house with fallen red pistache leaves amidst the green.

  2. We're at the point where we don't need to apologize for phone camera photos anymore I think -- at least you sure don't.

    What plant is in the photo after the bladderpod image? Love those!

    1. Alan, you had to ask, didn't you, LOL?

      I'm trying to find out what it is. I think some sort of yucca...

    2. I just received word from UC Davis that in their database this plant is listed as "Yucca sp." In other words, who knows what it is? It sure is beautiful.

  3. While it's too bad that the pistache lost all it's fruit like that, it did make a pretty picture with all that red lying at the tree's feet. Your photos are great as always, although unless the photo of the underpass at the top of your post was indeed of a pitch black space something may be awry with that one.

    1. Kris, the video should display fine on your desktop computer. It may not show up properly on a phone.

  4. The next time I'm in your neck of the woods I do hope to have to time to visit the Arboretum, it looks lovely!

  5. Hello, that isn´t Pistacia chinensis fruits at all. It is Sechuan pepper - Zanthoxylum simulans. Regards Daniel Larys


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