Eastern Mojave Vegetation Field Notes (Continued)  

Tom Schweich  

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Topics in this Article:
2008 Tour de Swertia albomarginata
Mono Lake, August 2008
Literature Cited
 When I first read the field notes of Annie Alexander and Louise Kellogg, I was fascinated by the descriptions they wrote about the places they went and the plants and animals they found there. By publishing my field notes on the Internet I hope to follow a little bit in their tradition.



Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday, August 1st Sunday, we visited Mono Craters. We went on Sunday to avoid the huge trucks that haul the pumice from the pumice mine down off the craters. I wasn’t quite sure what we’d find. I was very surprised, however, to find the Inyo Green Gentian (Frasera puberulenta). This is a not-so-distant cousin of the little plant (or as some of my bicycle friends like to say, “weed”) that I study in the eastern Mojave. The habitat was also somewhat analogous as well: exposed areas on bare and loose rocky slopes with no soil. We also saw a lot of poison angelica (Angelica lineariloba), one of those Carrot-family things that you really don’t want to eat.

Other articles: Mono Lake Basin Flora Frasera puberulenta
Full Size ImageHabit of Frasera puberulenta in the Mono Craters
Full Size ImageFlower of Frasera puberulenta in the Mono Craters  

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Coll. No. 695, Frasera puberulenta
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Coll. No. 695, Frasera puberulenta
Frasera puberulenta Davidson. Southern portion of Mono Craters, south of the Pumice Mine, in bare loose cinders in open areas among Jeffrey pines.

Coll. No. 695, 13 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying; Plant short-lived perennial, chlorophyll, without milky sap, dying after flowering, caulescent; Leaves, simple, opposite, linear, sessile, lower clasping, narrow white margin, puberulent, 10 mm wide; Inflorescence open, distal in small cyme; Corolla regular, rotate, lobed to near base, base of sinus between corolla lobes unappendaged; Petals 4, fused at base, 1 prominent nectary pit; Stamens 4, alternate with corolla lobes; Anthers opening longitudinally; Ovary superior, chamber 1; Style 1; Stigma 2-cleft.



Other articles: F. R. 01N16 at TH on the edge of U. Horse Mdw Upper Horse Meadow near L. Horse Mdw Lower Horse Meadow Mono Lake Basin Flora Horse Meadows

Locations: Lower Horse Meadow. Upper Horse Meadow.
Full Size ImageUpper Horse Meadow  

Monday, August 1, 2010

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Gibbs Trailhead
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Upper Horse Meadow
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Lower Horse Meadow with Mono Lake beyond.
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Lower Horse Meadow with Mono Lake beyond.
Monday August 2nd Monday, we tried out a new place. It’s called Horse Meadows, or Upper and Lower Horse Meadow. It’s right close to Lee Vining. It’s a pair of little plateaus adjacent to Lee Vining canyon that have been walled off on the north side by the lateral moraine (dirt pile made by a glacier) of the Lee Vining Canyon glacier. The moraine is on the right in the photo. If it were not for the moraine (dirt pile), this area would just be a hill slope off to the right and into Lee Vining Canyon. Lots of flowers here, but it’s getting late in the season and I did not actually collect anything.



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tuesday, August 3rd Today, we attended another Cathy Rose wild flower walk. This one started at the junction of the Tioga Road (CA Hwy 120) and Saddleback Lake Road. The “destination” of this walk was the mining ghost town of Bennettville. The mine was called the Great Sierra Mining Company. An incredible amount of mining equipment was hauled from Lundy, over Lundy Pass, past Saddlebag Lake to the location of the mine, near Tioga Pass. Alas, the mine owners fell victim to “supergene” enrichment. Often a deposit of ore gets enriched right at the surface of the earth, as erosion wears the mountain away. Once the mine shaft gets below the surface, and below the zone of supergene enrichment, the ore becomes poor, and there is no reason to continue digging. Well, at the Great Sierra Mining Company, the rich ore vein was on top of the ridge, and the clever owners decided to drive a tunnel below the ridge, intersect the vein, and then dig up through the vein. Except … the tunnel, more than 1800 feet long never intercepted any ore worth mining. One by one the owners lost interest or died and Bennettville slipped into decay. It’s a great hike, lots of Sierra plants to see. And when you get to Bennettville you’re on the nearly to the first of a chain of lakes called Shell Lake. In the photo above, you can see our group, from left to right: Yin-Yin, Rachel, Cathy, and Cheryl. I really like that area, and while quite high, nearly 10,000 ft, it’s fairly easy walking.

After the wildflower walk we went to the Post Office, got gas, and lunch at the Mobil Station. I had the barbecued baby back ribs, and Cheryl had one of today’ specials, the Black Bean Chicken Tortilla Soup. All very delicious.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The next day after I last wrote was our Mammoth Lakes Shopping Day. It was also time to get the oil changed in Cheryl’s car. We took both cars to Mammoth, and dropped her car off at the Chevron station. They we went to Mammoth Ski area, and bought tickets to ride the tram to the top of Mammoth Mountain. For some strange reason, we also signed up for the lunch on top. I mean, it sounded like a good idea at the time.

Well, they put you in one of those little pods that have sides made out of 24 gauge aluminum, windows out of 1/16” Plexiglas, and no handle of any sort to hang on to. I was figuring that there would be something you could grip hard enough to keep the pod attached to the cable. Nope, the best handle was your seat bottom that was hinged loosely so that bicycles and snow boards could be stowed aboard. This experience is heightened by the realization that there are two sequential cable runs and, at the station in the middle, your little pod is automagically removed from one cable and put on another. The test of whether your little pod is securely attached onto the cable is when you are launched out of the station and into thin air. There is also the featured personal quiet time, in which the cable is stopped when you are at the highest point above solid ground, and allowed to swing in the wind (well, OK, jiggle slightly in a very light breeze), until you begin to babble quietly to yourself. As you might expect, they save the best for last, meaning it’s the last section of cable that is the longest and steepest. I’m not saying I was traumatized by this experience. I am admitting, however, that I chose to carry my lunch back down in my backpack, rather than risk littering the floor of our little pod with it.

We did enjoy our time on top of Mammoth Mountain, though. The view is fantastic, ranging from the Minarets to the west, Long Valley to the east, Mammoth Lakes Basin to the south, and if you squint a little, Mono Lake to the north.

Back at the Mammoth Ski Lodge, we enjoyed our lunch, and watched the kids on the climbing wall. Then it was off to Von’s for another delightful shopping experience, back to the Chevron station to pick up Cheryl’s car, buy some produce at the Farmers Market, and then home again.

Locations: Mammoth Mountain.
Full Size ImageCheryl and Tom on top of Mammoth Mountain.  

View from the top of Mammoth Mountain.

Literature Cited:
- Browne, Brandon, Marcus Bursik, Justin Deming, Michael Louros, Antonio Martos, and Scott Stine, 2010.

Locations: Red Cones.
Full Size ImageRed Cones as seen from Mammoth Mountain.  

View of Red Cones, a pair of ca. 8500 yr B.P. basaltic cinder cones.

Locations: Mammoth Mountain.
Full Size ImageMammoth Mountain  

View of Mammoth Mountain.



Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday, August 8th Friday the 8th, we set off to Dechambeau Ponds, a series of ponds around a hot spring on the northeast side of Mono Lake. These ponds are a good place to see waterfowl, and find plants that are adapted to a hot spring environment. I couldn’t find the hot spring, although the pond in the photo was warm, maybe 85 or 90 degrees. Having exhausted the possibilities, we headed for the Virginia Lakes basin. This is just north of the Mono Lake basin. In fact, you drive just to the north edge of the Mono Lake basin, at Conway Summit on US 395, and then turn west. After a little lunch, we headed up the trail, ending at the third lake up: Cooney Lake, and behind it is Dunderberg Peak. . Along the way, we saw monument plant (Frasera speciosa) that is a close relative of the little plant that I study in the eastern Mojave. I’m a little curious about why this plant has been collected in the Virginia Lakes Basin, Tuoloumne Meadows, and around Mammoth, but it has never been collected in the Mono Lake basin, even at Tioga Pass. We also saw lots of fishermen and a lot of day hikers. I guess the thing about the Virginia Lakes basin is that the road to the trailhead goes quite high, so with a little bit of hiking, you can be in the alpine areas. It’s a little like Tioga Pass in that way



Saturday, August 7, 2010

On Saturday the 7th, we followed a local road, called Dexter Canyon Road, from beginning to end. There is a really helpful book of tours in Mono County. It’s about 35 pages long and has about 16 or 17 auto tours that one can take around the county. This particular tour begins near Sagehen Meadow in Big Sand Flat, and then goes through the mountains between the Mono Lake basin and the Long Valley caldera, before coming out in Adobe Valley. Along its route, the road passes some well known research areas. One is the Sentinel Meadow RNA (Research Natural Area) and a place called Wet Meadows. When I was first reviewing plant collections near Mono Lake, I noticed a lot of collections were made in wet meadows. I wondered why the meadows were so wet, and why there were so many of them. Eventually it dawned on me that there was one place called Wet Meadows. Wet Meadows is a pretty place, but a little dry when we saw it. Probably, it is better visited in early July, than in early August.

From Wet Meadows we saw some nice views of Dexter Canyon and Glass Mountain. Glass Mountain is probably the largest single volcanic mountain on the rim of the Long Valley caldera. It’s on the northeast wall of the caldera, pretty much opposite of Mammoth Mountain. In this photo, you can see Dexter Canyon Road, as is descends from the foothills of Glass Mountain, and drops down into Taylor Canyon.

In the bottom of Taylor Canyon, where is meets with Dexter Canyon, we came upon a ranch for sale. It has a new 2 bdrm house, 200 acres, and a private trout pond. And … it’s for sale for only $2 million. I got a kick out of the realtor’s sign: the Shoulda-Bin-A-Cowboy Land & Cattle Company. Actually, this house could be our nearest neighbor. Sagehen Meadow is just over the distant ridge on the right. Not unlike a lot of places in rural Mono County, it’s not far, but there is just no good way to get there. It’s seven miles by air, and eighteen miles by road, from this house to the house in Sagehen Meadow.

We also took a little detour over to River Spring Lakes, where I found the Alkali Ivesia (Ivesia kingii), but I didn’t collect it because there are lots of other collections and it’s outside the Mono Lake basin.

Other articles: Forest Road 1S17 at Wet Mdw

Locations: Wet Meadow.
Full Size ImageWet Meadow, looking west.  

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Wet Meadow, looking east.
Wet Meadow.

Other articles: Forest Road 1S17 mouth of Taylor Cyn
Full Size ImageLower end of Taylor Canyon  

Lower end of Taylor Canyon

Other articles: Forest Road 1S17 at ranch road
Full Size ImageFor Sale sign on House and Land in Dexter Canyon
Full Size ImageHouse for sale, 200 ac., 2 bdrm, 2 1/2 million.  

Ranch for sale: $2.5 million.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

On Sunday morning, the 8th, we had a little visitor. It’s a baby, probably newly fledged. We’ve had one guess, that it’s a western tanager. There are lots of immature birds around. Bluebirds, finches, sparrows, and maybe tanagers, all immature, have been flocking around the house, flying here and there, and I would guess getting ready to fly south.

Locations: Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageInfloresence of Eriogonum baileyi var. baileyi.
Full Size ImageFlower of Eriogonum baileyi var. baileyi.  

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Dirt-pile Habitat of Eriogonum baileyi var. baileyi near Sagehen Meadow
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Coll. No. 696, Eriogonum baileyi var. baileyi
Eriogonum baileyi S. Watson var. baileyi. Bailey's Buckwheat. Involucre sessile, > 1.5 mm, perianth glabrous, white. North of the meadow, near the house. Most common in disturbed areas, such as dirt piles left from construction.

Coll. No. 696, 13 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying; Annual; Stem glabrous; Leaves basal; Infloresence elongate; Involucres subtended by bracts, sessile, 2 mm, ribbed; Flowers glabrous, 1.5 mm, white to rose.



Monday, August 9, 2010


Full Size ImageColl. No. 697, Chrysolepis sempervirens  
697  Chrysolepis sempervirens

Full Size ImageColl. No. 698, Cornus sericea ssp. sericea  
698  Cornus sericea ssp. sericea

Other articles: Glossary pinnae
Full Size ImageColl. No. 699, Pellaea bridgesii  

699  Pellaea bridgesii Hook. Bridges' Cliffbrake.

Coll. No. 699, 13 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying; Perennial terrestrial fern, to 15 cm; Fronds many, mono-morphic, once pinnate, underside glabrous; Pinnae flat (not recurved to cover sori), basal unlobed; Sori on margin of frond.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 700, Eriogonum nudum  
700  Eriogonum nudum var. nudum.

Coll. No. 700, 13 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying; Perennial herbaceous, erect; Leaves basal, 22-32 mm, elliptic, subglabrous above (glabrous with a few cobwebby hairs); Infloresence in cymose heads, glabrous; Tepals glabrous; Perianth base entire (not jointed).

Full Size ImageColl. No. 701, Eriogonum wrightii var. subscaposum  
701  Eriogonum wrightii Torr. ex Benth. var. subscaposum S. Watson. Bastardsage.

Coll. No. 701, 13 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying; Perennial subshrub (as opposed to matted, suggesting var. wrightii), to 2 dm; Stems white tomentose; Leaf blade 8-10 mm, petiole bases not forming a ring around stem; Infloresence raceme-like; Involucres 1 per node, 2.5 mm Bracts 3; Tepals uniform in width; Flower stipe 0.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 702, Penstemon rostriflorus
Full Size ImageColl. No. 702, Penstemon rostriflorus  
702  Penstemon rostriflorus Kellogg. Bridge Penstemon.

Coll. No. 702, 14 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial terrestrial; Stem round; Leaves cauline, opposite; Calyx segments free; Corolla red, upper lobes not forming a beak or hood, lower lip strongly reflexed, spur 0; Stamens fertile 4, staminode 1, attached at root of corolla tube; Filament base glabrous; Anther sacs not dehiscing full length.



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday the 10th, we went on another wildflower walk with Cathy Rose. This one was to the Dana Gardens, across the canyon from the Yosemite National Park entrance station at Tioga Pass. One of the interesting things Cathy pointed out were rocks that Carl Sharsmith had painted. The story goes that the park service asked Carl to mark the route to climb Mount Dana. So Carl set out and put a little mark of orange paint on rocks along the route. Later, the park service had a change of heart, and told Carl to remove the rocks. So Carl set off again, and turned all the marked rocks around. So I guess they’re good marks if you’re coming back to the trailhead from Mt. Dana. The Dana Gardens themselves are about a mile from the trailhead, and just where the Mt. Dana trail starts it’s steep climb. We saw Goldenrod, lupines, and larkspurs, all in a relatively large size on this hill side. We’re told that the gardens are watered from below, that a soil on top of the usual scree and water moves down the slope in the scree and under the soil . The season is pretty short here, but we learned that early August is a good time to visit.



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wednesday the 11th being Mammoth Lakes market day, we took both cars again, and this time left my truck at the Chevron station for its lube, oil, and filter change. For entertainment, we drove into the Mammoth Lakes basin. We’ve noticed that a bicycle path is being built from the town of Mammoth Lakes into the lakes basin. The path is completed from town up to the edge of the basin, and now bicycle paths are under construction among the lakes in the basin, winding in and out of the trees.

Parking at the Twin Falls, we set out on foot. Twin Falls is a nice place to start, and pretty when seen from the distance, but the view from the top is limited to Twin Lakes below the falls. The lakes are beginning to fill in and become meadows.

From the Twin Falls parking lot we skirted around Lake Mamie, up the hill to Lake George, and than back down around Lake Mary. At Lake Mary, we arrived at the same time as the Fish & Game truck, with a load of trout. These were pretty big fish, maybe 10-12 inches long. But the poor things were completely confused and not sure what to do when dumped in the lake. Heretofore, I’m sure their life experience was in a nice vertical-sided concrete-lined tank, with overhead bins providing the food. Most of the fish tried to hide in the muddy water stirred up by the pipe. Others tried to hide in the rocks at the shore, and had to be chased out into deeper water, evading a gauntlet of hooks, lures, baits, and … well, I guess nets were considered bad sport at this stage of the game. Quite a spectacle! … and I’m probably exposing my bias about fishing …

Wednesday night and Thursday we had visitors. Some years ago, I made acquaintance with Jim through his “Great Basin Bird and Hike” web site. We had visited some of the same places and our web sites overlap geographically. I’m not sure who made first contact. Recently, when Jim finds the little weed I study, Swertia albomarginata, he’ll send me a photo with geographic coordinates, which I put in my data base. Jim and his wife Liz take an annual backpacking trip in Yosemite. Typically, they drive from their house in Las Vegas, and stay in the Sagehen Meadow campground for the night, and then go on to Yosemite the next morning. Writing back and forth, we invited them to stay at the house this year. So it was interesting to meet someone I’ve corresponded with over the Internet. Of course, we had quite a bit in common, given the way we met.



Thursday, August 12, 2010

We also had an interesting morning on the mouse-trapping front. In the early evening while Jim and Liz were visiting, we caught three baby mice. These were the smallest mice we ever caught. I think the way to understand this was: we caught the other the night before, and this forced the babies to come out the next night and forage for food. We put the three of them together in a bucket, fed them birdseed and apple, and went to bed. In the morning we took photographs, and then let the mice go in the usual spot, out at the main road.



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday the 14th we hiked in the Harvey Monroe Hall Research Natural Area. This is near Tioga Pass, just off the road to Saddlebag Lake. In the 1930’s the Carnegie Institute of Washington funded some research on the effects of climate on plants. The research took specimens of the same species of plant from different environments and transplanted them to gardens in other environments. The highest altitude garden was here at 10,000 ft. The other gardens were at Camp Mather, about 5,000 feet, and at Stanford University, near sea level. Plants in the same species that were collected at sea level did not do well at 10,000 ft, and vice versa. The studies showed that there were genetic differences between specimens of the same “species” of plant that were adaptive to their natural environment. The study was published as Clausen, Keck, and Heisey, 1940, and it’s discussed in nearly every introduction to ecology class. So for a biologist, it’s almost a pilgrimage, where one can pay homage to seminal thinking in plant ecology.

It’s also a pretty nice and relatively easy hike. You start at the Sawmill Campground and walk along the relatively level old road to the garden, crossing Lee Vining Creek on the way. From the research garden at Timberline Station the trail is more of a “Use Trail” for freeform hiking rather than a formal trail. However, there are lots of ways to go, and a few people around, but the area is not heavily used because it is day-use only, and camping or overnight use is not permitted.

I think the only other trip we’ve taken recently was local. There was one collection of an unusual Penstemon (think snapdragon) made at a location described as an old World War I airfield in one of the sand flats. Asking around locally no one seemed to know where this airfield was. Searching images of the local sand flats on GoogleEarth, I saw something that looked a long linear feature in a sand flat. It’s about 8 miles from the house by back roads and, actually, quite close to US Hwy 395. A little driving around and we found something that looked like an old airfield. We also found a couple of loading ramps, etc. I can’t tell whether this airfield was built for WWI or not, but it seems more likely it was built to support the WW II war effort. How, I can’t tell. Or maybe it was just an old emergency airfield before there were airports at Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining. We didn’t find the Penstemon, though, but that’s not surprising. We were a little late in the season, and it could have been anywhere around this two-mile long sand flat.

The past few days we have been in Atascadero and San Luis Obispo visiting our parents. We returned to the house last night, the drive being about seven hours through Fresno and Mariposa, then over Tioga Pass. We avoided the Wawona Road because of highway construction and, even though the Mariposa Road is 20 miles longer, it actually takes less time. We stopped for dinner at the Mobil Station, where I had the ribs, and Cheryl had the barbequed chicken sandwich. Today, the weather has turned quite cool and breezy, as apparently there is an upper level low over northern California. Tomorrow, we’re supposed to return to calm, warm, sunny conditions, although, “warm” here means 75°F.

It feels like our time here is winding down. Most of the flowers are finished, except at very high altitudes, or the low-altitude sagebrush-like things that bloom in the fall. Our plan, at the moment, is to return to Alameda on Sept 7th. In a way, I’m looking forward to coming home. In another way, I’m not looking forward to seeing (and cleaning up) the yard after three months of being away. Not to mention, it’s about time for the ginko fruit to start falling. I’ll miss seeing our breakfast and dinner time view of Sagehen Peak out the picture windows.

Other articles: Slate Creek Valley. at Lee Vining Ck

Locations: Lee Vining Creek (Upper).
Full Size ImageCheryl crossing Lee Vining Creek on the way to Slate Creek Valley.  

Crossing upper Lee Vining Creek on the way into Slate Creek Valley.

Other articles: Slate Creek Valley. along u. Slate Ck.

Locations: Slate Creek.
Full Size ImagePools in Slate Creek.  




Monday, August 16, 2010


Other articles: Mono Lake Basin Flora California Geological Survey
Full Size ImageHabitat of Cymopterus cinerarius on the Mono Craters
Full Size ImageColl. No. 703, Apiaceae Cymopterus cinerarius  

703  Cymopterus cinerarius A. Gray. Gray Springparsley

Locations: Airfield Flat.
Full Size ImageAirfield Flat, as seen from north to south.  

View south through Airfield Flat.

Other articles: Forest Road 1S05 at "Airfield Flat"

Locations: Airfield Flat.
Full Size ImageAirfield in unnamed flat near Deadman Summit.  




Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Full Size ImageColl. No. 704, Stephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua  
704  Stephanomeria exigua Nutt. ssp. exigua. Small Wirelettuce.

Full Size ImageCollection No. 705, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus var. viscidiflorus near Sagehen Meadow.
Full Size ImageColl. No. 705, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus ssp. viscidiflorus  
705  Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus (Hook.) Nutt. ssp. viscidiflorus. Yellow Rabbitbrush.

Coll. No. 705, 15 Nov 2011, characters observed while keyin: Perennial shrub; Stems woody at base, juice latex (?); Leaves entire, lanceolate, twisted > 360°, margin sparsely ciliate; Phyllaries 3 unequal series, tending to be aligned in vertical ranks, not transparent or scarious; Flowers all disc flowers, yellow; Achenes hairy, pappus of hairs/bristles "capillary bristles" (not ornamented).



Wednesday, August 18th

One thing: at about two months here in very rural Mono County, I made a transition of sorts. I reached the point where it would be OK if we weren’t here any more. I wouldn’t say I was ready to be home and stay home. Just that we had seen most of what was close by, the newness had worn off, and maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be back home. One thing I notice is that my eyes get tired. Especially in the morning after a full day outside, even with dark glasses and a hat, my eyes just feel a little gravelly and tired. So a day now and then, where we stay at the house and work on projects, is just fine. Cheryl has been working on a quilt for grandson Colin. The other day, I went through all of my plant collections, and sorted them. I have a package of collections that have dried, have been identified, and I have printed labels for them. I have two (big) presses of collections that are still drying. Today, the humidity is 7% outside. Inside the house it’s much more moist … hah! … as the humidity is 9%. So plant collections dry pretty fast, just sitting in the house. Then, of course, there is the package of collections I have labeled “Poorly Identified.” These are the ones I have to work on. Some of them, though, are plants that I didn’t know when I first collected it. Then later, I would collect it again somewhere else, realize what it was, give myself a dope slap, and utter a Homer Simpson “D’Oh” under my breath.



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So the next Tuesday, the 24th of August we went on Cathy Roses’ hike to Gaylor Ridge. This is the opposite side of Tioga Pass from Dana Gardens and Mount Dana. We parked the car at Tioga Pass, just outside Yosemite National Park, and walked to the trailhead just inside the park. The first mile or so is a pretty steep hike, with large steps and switchbacks. The view from the top is stunning, and it gives a different perspective on Dana Meadows. The walk ended on the ridge between Tioga Pass and Gaylor Lakes. Not having had enough, Cheryl and I continued down the ridge to the lake. This general area is called Gaylor Lakes, plural, as there are lots of glacial lakes (tarns) or large and small sizes.

Along the shore of the largest lake, we saw a gentian. Some of you may know that the little desert plant I study is in the Gentian family. So when I see a gentian in the field I always pay attention. This one is Gentiana newberryi, with a very clever common name of “Newberry’s Gentian.” It about 2 inches tall, and was surrounded by grasses and other plants. This particular spot was the only place we saw this plant.

From the lowest Gaylor Lake we started hiking up toward Upper Gaylor Lake. It was about a half mile on a fairly gentle slope. It did it by boulder hopping up the creek, looking for more gentians in the damp areas. Just when I was about to give up, we found a small patch of Gentianopsis holopetala, the Sierra Gentian. Like the Newberry’s Gentian above, we found only a few of these growing together in a small area. Later, I’ll find small patches of a similar plant, Gentianopsis simplex, at Crooked Meadows and Big Sand Flat.

At Upper Gaylor Lake, we sat on the rock and had a snack. Thinking we would only hike with Cathy for a couple of hours, we didn’t bring a full lunch. The ice field behind Cheryl is on the north side of Gaylor Peak. It’s show on maps as a glacier, but has gotten quite small. Later, though, when we hiked along the lake below the glacier, you could see that the lake had been scooped out below the glacier, and was quite deep right at the shoreline. I think this would be evidence that the ice extended down into the lake, and only recently has retreated up the slope. We hiked a little way around Upper Gaylor Lake to a pass, where we could look down on Tioga Lake and California Highway 120. As many times as I have passed by Tioga Lake, just east of Tioga Pass, on this highway, I have never seen it from this perspective.

From here, we returned to our car. It’s not a bad hike. A little uphill from the lower Gaylor Lake to the ridge, and then quite steep downhill to the trailhead.

By this time we were getting pretty hungry. So we availed ourselves of the Mono Cone back in Lee Vining for a hamburger followed by an ice cream.

Full Size ImageTypical appearance of Gentianopsis holopetala, the Sierra Fringed Gentian.
Full Size ImageHabit of Gentianopsis holopetala between Lower and Upper Gaylor Lakes.  
Gentianopsis holopetala between Lower and Upper Gaylor Lakes.

Full Size ImageHabitat of Gentiana newberryi as seen at the edge of Lower Gaylor Lake.
Full Size ImageGentiana newberryi as seen at the edge of Lower Gaylor Lake.  
Gentiana newberryi beside Lower Gaylor Lake.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010, we determined to stay at Sagehen Meadow. I had plant collections to work over and Cheryl had a quilt to work on for a grandchild.

Traffic on Sagehen Meadows Road always attracts our attention because there is so little of it. However, imagine our interest when the traffic was three fire trucks, with a backdrop of a plume of smoke.

Close inspection, though, made it clear that the plume of smoke was quite small and a mile or so in the distance. It was also pretty clear that the fire trucks were on the wrong road. To us it looked like the fire was somewhere between Big Sand Flat and Crooked Meadows. We have a quick check of our emergency evacuation supplies, and then re-settled back into what we were doing. After an hour or so the smoke thinned and then stopped appearing, so we assumed that the fire fighters found it and put it out.



Thursday, August 26th

Thursday the 26th I did a little collecting around Big Sand Flat.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 706, Tetradymia canescens  
706  Tetradymia canescens DC. Spineless Horsebush.

Coll. No. 706, 15 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial woody below; Stems some sharp-pointed, 2nd+ year stems pubesence interrupted by linear glabrescent streaks (Sect. Tetradymia, incl. stenolepis, canescens, and glabrata); Leaves gray tomentose (not green glabrous), not spiny; Phyllaries 4, in one equal series, not scarious or transparent, tips not black; Flowers not ligulate, yellow; Achenes glabrous, with a pappus of bristles.

Other articles: Field Notes Coll. No. 794
Full Size ImageColl. No. 707, Drymocallis glandulosa var. reflexa  

707  Drymocallis glandulosa var. nevadensis.

Coll. No. 707, 15 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial herb, without stolons; Leaves palmate; Sepals 5, ~= petals; Petals present, 3 mm, 2 mm wide, obovate; Stamens 10-25 (obs: 23); Styles widest in middle, not warty, jointed to fruit, attached below the middle, deciduous; Achenes glabrous.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 708, Symphyotrichum spathulatum var. spathulatum  
708  Symphyotrichum spathulatum (Lindl.) G. L. Nesom var. spathulatum. Western Mountain Aster, fibrous roots, rhizomes, upper leaves clasping, lanceolate.

Coll. No. 708, 16 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial from fibrous roots, generally < 4 dm tall (obs: 37-38 cm); Leaveslanceolate, > 7 x longer than wide (obs: 13 x longer), glabrous, without spinulose tip, basal present at flowering, mid-cauline leaves smaller than below; Peduncles 2-8 cm, non-glandular; Involucre 15 mm, non-glandular; Phyllaries in 3-4 series, graduated, outer < inner, not paper-like (chartaceous), lower margin scarious, elongate green tip 3x width, tip acute; Receptacle naked; Flowers both ray and disc; Rays conspicuous, blue/lavender; Style branches minutely glandular, not tufted hairy; Achenes with a pappus of bristles, whitish.

Other articles: F. R. 01S04A 10300
Full Size ImageColl. No. 709, Erigeron lonchophyllus  

709  Erigeron lonchophyllus Hook. Short Ray Fleabane.

Coll. No. 709, 16 Nov 2011, Characters observed while keying: Perennial herb to 2 dm; Leaves basal and cauline, basal narrowly elliptic, petiole 2 cm, blade 5 cm, 7mm wide, cauline alternate linear; Phyllaries in 3 series, outer 1/2 x inner 2 series, scarious only on edges, purple tips; Flowers white, rays absent inconspicuous, pistillate and staminate flowers in same head, outer flowers without corollas; Achenes with a pappus of bristles.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 710, Pyrrocoma racemosa var. paniculata
Full Size ImageColl. No. 710, Pyrrocoma racemosa var. paniculata  
710  Composite, yellow.

Other articles: F. R. 01S04A 10300
Full Size ImageColl. No. 711, Galium trifidum var. columbianum
Full Size ImageColl. No. 711, Galium trifidum var. columbianum  

711  Galium trifidum L. var. columbianum (Rydb.) Hultén. Three-Petal Bedstraw.

Big Sand Flat, Mono County, California. East end, wet area where Dry Creek enters Big Sand Flat. 37.8819°N, 118.8853°W. WGS 1984 Elev. 2401 m.

Coll. No. 711, 18 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial herb, weak, sprawling; Stem glabrous (without prickles); Leaves 4 in a whorl, short-petioled, elliptic to obovate, thin, glabrous; Infloresence not dense (3-4 flowers); Corolla 3-lobed, yellow (?); Fruit 2 nutlets, smooth, hairiness like herbage (glabrous to few hairs).

Full Size ImageColl. No. 712, Gentianopsis simplex
Full Size ImageColl. No. 712, Gentianopsis simplex  
712  Gentianopsis simplex

Coll. No. 712, 18 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Annual photosynthetic herb, to 8 cm; Stems simple, to 4 cm; Internode 11 mm (compare to peduncle); Leaves cauline, opposite, sessile, simple, elliptic, 12 mm; Peduncle 19 mm (> internode); Infloresence not coiled, single-flowered; Perianth in 2 whorls (sepals and petals present); Flowers single, bisexual; Sepals 4; Corolla 2 cm, distinct tube, not bell shaped; Petals 4, connate (congenitally fused at least at base), 17 mm, blue sinuses between petals not appendaged, lobes serrate; Stamens 4, alternate, filaments fused at base, free upper half; Ovary 1, superior; Pistil 1; Stigma 2-cleft.



Saturday, August 28, 2010


Full Size ImageColl. No. 713, Collomia linearis
Full Size ImageColl. No. 713, Collomia linearis  
713  Collomia linearis

Coll. No. 713, 19 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Annual; Stem simple, unbranched; Leaves linear, 20-25 mm; Calyx membrane 0, lobes growing with capsule, becoming papery with age; Corolla white, 6-9 mm;

  714  Lupinus ledipus Douglas ex Lindl. var. confertus (Kellogg) C. P. Sm.

Coll. No. 714, 20 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial herb 25-40 cm tall; Leaves cauline, crowded at base and reduced above, appressed hairy below, hairy above; Leaflets 15-23 mm, gray green; Infloresence 4-11 cm, whorls 6-12 (obs: 6,8,9,12); Bracts persistent; Calyx spur absent; Flower 9 mm; Banner back glabrous, patch yellow, banner fading to brown while small spot remains yellow; Keel ciliate distal end.

Redetermined to var. confertus from var. ramosus because of number and density of whorls in infloresence.

Full Size ImageCollection No. 715, Symphyotrichum spathulatum
Full Size ImageCollection No. 715, Symphyotrichum spathulatum  
715  Erigeron philadelphicus, fibrous roots, rhizomes, upper leaves clasping, lanceolate.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 716, Artemisia cana var. bolanderi  
716  Artemisia cana var. bolanderi



Sunday, August 29, 2010




Monday, August 30, 2010


Other articles: Rush Creek Delta Trail, East near end in delta Seaside Heliotrope 1 7
Full Size ImageRush Creek delta and Mono Lake.
Full Size ImageFlowers of Heliotropium curassavicum on the Rush Creek delta.  

Full Size Image
Appearance of Heliotropium curassavicum on the Rush Creek delta.
Full Size Image
Coll. No. 717, Heliotropium curassavicum
Full Size Image
Coll. No. 717, Heliotropium curassavicum
Heliotropium curassavicum L. Seaside Heliotrope.

Full Size ImageInfloresence of Coll. No. 717.1, Berula erecta
Full Size ImageOverview of Coll. No. 717.1, Berula erecta  
717.1  Berula erecta (Huds.) Coville.

Perennial (?); Habitat wet place other than vernal pool; Rooting, tubers, and rhizomes unknown; Stem ascending, glabrous, hollow; Leaves with sheathing bases, once pinnate; Leaflets toothed or serrate; Infloresence in compound umbels; Bracts and bractlets conspicuous; Flowers white; Style short; Fruit lacking bristles, prickles or tubercles.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 718, Mentha arvensis  
718  Mentha canadensis L. Wild Mint.

Coll. No. 718, 20 Nov 2011, characters observed while keying: Perennial herb; Stem erect; Internodes visible; Leaves ±equal in size upward; Infloresence axillary clusters distributed along stem; Calyx 5-lobed, radially symmetrical, lobes and tips equally hairy; Flowers radial, 3 mm; Stamens exserted, fertile 4; Style exserted.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 719, Mimetanthe pilosus  
719  Mimulus pilosus (Benth.) S. Watson. False Monkeyflower.

Full Size ImageColl. No. 719.1, Gnaphalium palustre  
719.1  Gnaphalium palustre Nutt. Western Marsh Cudweed. An accidental collection; very small plants were found in a collection of Mimulus pilosa, also found were minute Cyperus squarrosa.

Other articles: California Highway 167 near US Hwy 395 Mono Lake Basin Flora at Mono Dunes
Full Size ImageHabitat of Tetradymia tetrameres north of Mono Lake.
Full Size ImageHabitat of Tetradymia tetrameres north of Mono Lake.  

Full Size Image
Habit of Tetradymia tetrameres north of Mono Lake.
Full Size Image
Overview of Coll. No. 720, Tetradymia tetrameres
Tetradymia tetrameres (S. F. Blake) Strother. Four-part Horsebush.

Full Size ImageDetail of Coll. No. 721, Atriplex canescens var. canescens
Full Size ImageOverview of Coll. No. 721, Atriplex canescens var. canescens  
721  Atriplex canescens (Pursh.) Nutt. var. canescens Four-wing Saltbush.

Shrub 1 m; Twigs 30 cm, 2 mm wide at base to 1 mm wide at tip; Leaves (mature primary) 28-35 mm, 5-7 mm wide, (smallest) 12-15 mm, 2 mm wide; Bracts 8-9 mm, 5 mm wide, entire to dentate (not deeply sharp-dentate).



Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday August 31st, wild flower walk to Bennettville with Cathy Rose.

We were warned to look out for the sheep herders. Especially, if they tried to graze Sagehen Meadow. Because it’s private property, the sheep herders should ask permission to graze, and the owners said we should tell the sheep herders not to graze the private portion of the meadow. We never saw the sheep herders from the house in Sagehen Meadow. However, one day in mid-July we saw a small stock ramp near Mono Mills, and then a couple of double-decker stock trucks heading up that way. On a hike from the house in late August, we saw an area of devastated sagebrush about a mile east of the house. After looking at it for a while, we decided that the sheep had been there a few days before. So we figured that the sheepherders are pretty good at keeping the sheep out of sight. Then in late August they appeared in the very easternmost portion of Big Sand Flat. The sheepherders kept the sheep in BLM land, and not on Forest land. However, the boundary between the Forest and BLM land is precisely the spot where I collected Astragalus monoensis, the endangered Mono Lake MilkVetch. You can see in the photo what the sheep do. Everything except the sagebrush is eaten, and most of that is trampled.

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Date and time this article was prepared: 3/31/2020 1:30:38 PM