Where the Kelp Plant Meets the Sycamore Tree

Autumn Gold~ Sycamores and Eucalyptus, Leo Carrillo State Park, Photo by K.Vilim

Autumn Gold~ Sycamores and Eucalyptus, Leo Carrillo State Park, Photo by K.Vilim

Autumn’s color is gold~ it means golden trees and brisk morning air. In Southern California, this means the gold of Sycamore trees.  Native California Sycamores, (also Western Sycamores) Platanus racemosawith their large, hand-shaped leaves are the favorite tree for Monarch butterflies to overwinter in.  While camping here in Leo Carrillo State Park, a Monarch fluttered past me at high speed, riding the current of a fast moving wind.  Into the park he went, right towards an established stand of mature Sycamores.

I have seen one Monarch a day for the past week, all of them traveling solo and heading west to the beach from a few miles inland.  What I wonder is: where will they go when they get to the Ocean?  Will they go south to overwinter in the Coronado Butterfly Preserve (near San Diego), or north to Ellwood Butterfly Preserve (near Santa Barbara)?  Or, will these Monarchs overwinter right here in Leo Carrillo State Park?

Leo Carrillo is a State Beach and Park that has mature stands of both Eucalyptus and Sycamores. Eucalyptus is the tree of choice for overwintering West Coast Monarchs when there are no Sycamores. (The Monarchs learned to adapt; they had to find other suitable trees when large stands of Sycamores got lost to development near the Coast.)

Leo Carillo State Beach, Native CA Sycamore in front of stand of Eucalyptus, photo by K.Vilim

Leo Carillo State Beach, Native CA Sycamore in front of stand of Eucalyptus in Santa Monica Mtns, photo by K.Vilim

Leo Carrillo State Park also boasts a gorgeous beach in a small cove with clean sand and tide pools where all sorts of sea creatures can be seen:  spotted sea anemones, sea stars, sea urchins, mussels, barnacles and crabs.

An interesting feature of the park is that Pacific Coast Highway crosses over it dividing beach from camping. To get to the beach, you walk through tunnels that go underneath the highway. In the tunnels are murals depicting something of the history of this place.

Tunnel Mural at Leo Carrillo State Beach, photo by K. Vilim

Tunnel Mural at Leo Carrillo State Beach, photo by K. Vilim

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of Leo Carrillo being designated a State Park.  While he is best known for his acting career, Leo Carrillo was a conservationist and served on the California Beach & Parks Commission for many years. Carrillo was responsible for acquiring land for parks, including: the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, the Los Angeles County Arboretum and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Where the Kelp Meets the Sea, Leo Carrillo State Beach

Where the Kelp Plant Meets the Sycamore Tree, Leo Carrillo State Beach, photo by K. Vilim

An anniversary bash is planned for Saturday, with free food & music at the park, but what I want to see is the Vintage California Campers! “Grab your surfboard” California camping in an old teardrop~ what fun. A rally of campers and Woody Wagons will be filling the park, too.

In this month of October, which is surely one of the finest months to view autumn trees throughout this country, many vacationers are finding they cannot go out to their favorite places to enjoy nature’s fall colors, due to the government shutdown of National Parks.   I am so pleased that, although California does have national parks that are closed, our extensive California State Park System still allows us many parks to enjoy the splendor of Nature in Autumn.  ~Gold-colored Sycamores and West Coast Monarchs, orange wings against blue sky~

Wherever you live, hope you get a chance to get out and walk through Autumn’s splendid trees.

© 2013, Kathy Vilim. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

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