Walk on the wild side | March 19, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Cover Story - March 19, 2014

Walk on the wild side

Edgewood walks are window to California's native wildflower past

by Kathy Korbholz

Throughout the Bay Area, Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve, located near Interstate 280 and Edgewood Road in Redwood City, is famous for its spectacular spring wildflower displays.

Edgewood contains an unusual and harmonious concentration of ecological zones. Its most important feature is its 160 acres of serpentine soils. Low in calcium and nitrogen, but high in magnesium and heavy metals, serpentinite is toxic to most plants. Over millennia, however, certain plants and animals have adapted to it.

Because most species brought in with European settlement cannot live in serpentine soil, such areas form natural preserves of native plants and the animals that depend on them. Any time of year, Edgewood can show how our area looked before European settlement. Edgewood can be thought of as a living museum with a window to California's past. In springtime the view through that window is particularly glorious.

Despite its relatively small size as a protected wilderness area — only 467 acres — Edgewood offers a surprising amount of biodiversity. Its grasslands, chaparral, coastal scrub regions, foothill woodlands, and even year-round seeps and springs support more than 500 distinct plant species, four of which are federally listed as endangered or threatened.

In addition, the fragile Bay checkerspot butterfly, one of the threatened species, has made its home in the unique habitat afforded by the serpentine grasslands. The various plant communities also provide habitat for frogs, lizards, foxes, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, deer, and over 70 resident and migratory birds.

Friends of Edgewood docents offer free wildflower walks every Saturday and Sunday starting at 10 a.m. through June 8. On the moderately paced, three-mile walk, lasting approximately three hours, you are likely to see 50 to 100 plants in flower.

Every year is different at Edgewood. The weather favors some plants one year and a different set is abundant the next. Join us to discover what this year's crazy weather reveals.

Visitors can complement their docent-led walk by visiting the Bill and Jean Lane Education Center located near the main entrance. The interactive exhibits help the visitor understand Edgewood's fascinating stories and its connection to the surrounding landscape.

This beautiful, environmentally friendly building was created as a portal for school children, nature seekers and casual visitors to understand and explore Edgewood's rare and interesting life forms, fascinating soils, and mosaic of plant communities and wildlife habitats.

Go to friendsofedgewood.org to preview Edgewood's wildflowers. For more information call 1-866-GO-EDGEWOOD (1-866-463-3439).

If you go

Friends of Edgewood docents offer free wildflower walks at 10 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday through June 8. On the moderately paced, three-mile walk, lasting approximately three hours, you are likely to see 50 to 100 plants in flower. Go to friendsofedgewood.org to preview Edgewood's wildflowers.


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