We took these pictures a month ago. We meant to put them up then, but here they are, better late than never!
Sutro Forest is a de facto cloud forest. It doesn’t rely only on rain; in summer, the tall eucalyptus trees harvest the moisture from the fog. (Some of the trees are 200 feet tall.) They keep their understory well-watered, and the understory in turn helps to retard evaporation and keep it damp. Here’s a diagram of how it works.
On this visit, the actual trails were dry, but the vegetation was green. Even the grasses and the small plants that form the herbaceous layer, which indicates that there’s been enough surface moisture to keep them not just alive but thriving .
Sutro Forest is known for its tall trees and green understory, not for its flowers. In May, though, they’re there – together with red elderberries, and the plums on the wild prunus trees that bloomed earlier this year. (Be careful of the red elderberry – it’s also called the stinking elderberry because its leaves smell bad when bruised, and the berries are probably inedible to humans – though not to birds.) There are a few forget-me-nots here and there, some Robert geraniums, some nasturtiums.
There’s been work along the trails, and some things have changed. The triple arches formed of vines covering branches across the trail are gone.
The forget-me-nots of 2011 were mulched out of existence, and have now been replaced by the plastic flags of 2015. Presumably, some Native Plants have been planted there. We hope they take. They current brown chips are unlovely.
Despite the 1250 trees cut down in the last couple of years, and the destruction of understory that helps retain moisture and provide habitat, the forest is still very beautiful. Here are a few pictures taken along the trails, with the evening sunlight streaming through the trees.
One of the challenges of trying to show this beauty in photographs (given that we’re not professional photographers, and are using a variety of point-and-shoot cameras), is the sheer size and majesty of the trees. We’re never completely successful.