Joan Hamilton

Joan Hamilton is a Bay Area environmental writer and
editor who enjoys hiking, camping, and kayaking in
California state parks. She was formerly chief editor at High Country News, Climbing, and Sierra magazines. She produces mobile audio tours for people who want to learn more about Bay Area nature.
tarplant

On Mount Diablo, Springtime in the Summer Heat

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The temperature rises to well over 90 degrees on Mount Diablo these days—hot enough to bake many small plants. But the little green shrubs have just begun to stage their comeback. It’s springtime in the chaparral.

fire poppy

What Follows a Fire? A Mount Diablo Botany Quiz

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After a fire, botanists hustle out to burned areas to identify surviving and regenerating species. They’ve often got only a few leaves to go on, some from species that haven’t been seen for decades. So it’s tough. Want to test your skills against those of the botanists?

Fire Followers Arrive, with Scientists Right Behind

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An expert in rare plants, Heath Bartosh is especially interested in “fire followers,” plants whose seeds stay buried in the ground until heat or smoke stimulates germination. These annuals flourish for one to three years. And then they’re gone—until the next fire.