Volume 14 No. 4 July 1995

Bristlecone Chapter
Dedicated to the Preservation of the California Native Flora



Volume 14 No. 4 July 1995


On Thursday, July 13 we will gather at Whiskey Creek for the annual Bristlecone Chapter Banquet. The event will begin at 6:30 with no-host cocktail service and dinner at 7:00. After we dine, Dr. Delbert Wiens, Professor of Botany from the University of Utah will present a lecture focusing on plant extinction. Dr. Wiens has traveled the world studying this topic, and will provide many interesting examples from local as well as more "exotic" flora.


Tuesday July 18, at 7:00 pm at Doris Fredendall's residence in Big Pine. All chairpersons are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Our annual banquet is approaching soon and I hope all of you will be able to attend - remember the theme and "bring a friend". Last year was such a success and we expect another great turn-out. Get your tickets soon by contacting Dianne Payne (872-3460), Mary DeDecker (878-2389), or myself at (873-8392).

Those of you who live near Bishop probably saw the fire that swept up the alluvial fans of Mt. Tom on Wednesday, June 14. The fire primarily burned the bitterbrush community and the upper fringes of blackbrush. Temperatures were quite hot, scorching the understory vegetation and the older age class bitterbrush and sage. It will be interesting to follow the plant succession after such an event as well as the way the mule herd respond to their new "winter range".

I would like to thank all of you who were on the Redding Canyon field trip that I led in June. The flowers were really great and the weather couldn't have been more perfect! I was glad to have such a good turn out for a field trip that was held during the middle of the week. There are many more trips planned for this summer - so enjoy the seemingly eternal bloom this year .

 ........ Scott Hetzler

Upcoming Bristlecone Chapter Field Trips

On all field trips please take whatever personal needs are necessary; lunch and/or snacks, plenty of water, hat, sunscreen, glasses, notebook, pencils, camera, hand lens and field guides/lists. For overnight trips bring all necessary food and camping gear. Please do not bring pets.

All are welcome including friends and family. For more information call the Field Trip Chairperson, Mary DeDecker at (619) 878-2389.

JULY 1. A butterfly trip to Glass Creek Meadow. Leader: Derham Guiliani. Meet at 9:30 am at the Crestview rest stop off of Hwy. 395, north of Mammoth Lakes. Glass Creek meadow often has some of the best butterfly diversity in the area. The moderate hike will be approximately 2 miles round trip.

JULY 8. McGee Canyon. Leader: Charlotte Harbeson. Meet at 9:00 am at the McGee Canyon trailhead. From U.S. Hwy. 395 take the McGee Canyon road to the end, past the pack station. This will be an easy to moderate 34 mile round trip hike.

JULY 15. Whippoorwill Flat, Inyo Mountains. Leader: Mary DeDecker. Meet at the Triangle Campground north of Big Pine at 9:00 am. This trip will focus on mistletoes but there will be other plants of interest as well. If time permits we will also take a short hike to an historical site.

JULY 29. A Sketch trip up Big Pine Canyon, Sierra Nevada. Leader: Richard Potashin. Meet at Glacier Lodge parking lot at 9:00 am. Bring white paper, pencils, colored pencils or makers, clipboards, and erasers.

AUGUST 12. McAfee Meadow, White Mountains. Leader: Carla Scheidlinger and Terry Hicks. Meet at Barcroft Lab, about 2.5 miles from Cedar Flat. (We have permission to go beyond the Barcroft gate). 4WD vehicle is advisable but probably will not be necessary. We will study the alpine tundra and meadow plants.

AUGUST 9. Francis Lake. Leader: Charlotte Harbeson. Meet at 9:00 am at the Francis Lake trailhead. From Highway 395 follow the Rock Creek Canyon road up the canyon. Turn left at Rock Creek Lake and park at the trailhead on the eastside of the Lake. This will be an intermediate 8 mile round trip hike.

AUGUST 26. Saddlebage Lake, Sierra Nevada. Leader: Ann Howald. This hike will take us across alpine meadows and fell fields abloom with flowers - that is if the snow melts!! In any case, we will meet at 9:00 in the parking lot of the Lee Vining Ranger Station approximately 1 mile up Hwy. 120 on the way to Tioga Pass. The hike will be moderate and we'll try and arrange a boat ride across the lake. For more information contact Ann Howald at (707) 939-0775.

Upcoming Events

Annual Bristlecone Chapter Banquet

Date: Thursday, July 13th Time: No-host cocktail service at 6:30, Dinner at 7:00 pm Cost: $16.00 which will include; dinner (choice from three entrees), tossed salad of fresh greens, freshly baked breads and coffee, iced tea, or lemonade. Price includes tax and gratuity.
To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact Dianne Payne at (619) 872-3460.

Field Trip Reports

The Pearly Gates, San Lucas Canyon May 6 - Leader: Vince Yoder

"But Vince," I whined, "I want to see flowers". The scene appeared grim. Although it was May, it looked like January. We stood above Lee Flat in 4 inches of fresh snow, through which we had been driving since we climbed east out of the Owens Lake area. Snow covered the landscape as far as we could see, which was not far at all, because low clouds hung overhead and descended into the canyons. The dirt road had become slick and muddy in places. "It's about 10 more miles, and we'll drop below the snow line" Vince reassured me with a smile and an air of confidence that made me wonder what he'd put in his coffee that morning. Perhaps the only thing that kept me from turning back was the little Karmen Ghia fearlessly riding on my bumper, pushing me onward.

Eleven of us, in five cars, followed Vince through a rare scene of snow-covered Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), chocolate drops (Caulanthus pilosa) stems daylighting through the snow, and apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) bending over under the snow's weight. The Penstemon monoensis and Astragalus cimae var. sufflatus which we had hoped to see along the road were hiding under a blanket of snow. And we - continued into it.

Twenty minutes later, we were indeed below the snow line. It was merely sprinkling lightly when we hopped out of our vehicles and began enthusiastically interrogating the flowers and birds as we walked down the rugged San Lucas wash toward the dubiously-named Pearly Gates. We saw everything on our preliminary plant list (watch for it in the September newsletter) and then some, including; fuzzy Cryptantha virginensis, fragrant Cryptantha utahensis, Salvia dorrii var. dorrii, glorious cactus flowers (Opuntia basilaris, O. erinacea, and Echinncereus engelmannii), vibrant yellow daisies of all sizes and species (Encelia actoni, Heliomeris multiflora var. nevadensis, Eriophyllum ambiguum var. peleaceum, Senecio douglassii), red-stemmed and greenstemmed Sphareralcea, carpets of Mimulus bigelovii, crevice dwelling Phacelia rotundifolia, and a lonely, light lavender-flowered Penstemon floridus var. austinii. Larry managed to get himself plastered with vegetable velcro (Eucinide urens), probably as he viewed the Green-tailed Towhees, Wilson's Warblers, and other joyous birds with his binoculars.

Stopping at a fork in the canyon to have lunch, the group decided to pick up the pace and head for the Pearly Gates. Less than half an hour later, we found ourselves in a narrowing section of the canyon lined with rainbow-hued slickrock. Then the narrows ended abruptly at a long verticle chasm. We stood atop a series of at least three tall limestone ledges and imagined the impressive and nearly impassable waterfall that might hurtle toward Saline Valley in welter times. We had reached the Pearly Gates!
On the hike back up to the vehicles, we were now thankful for the cool air and overcast sky. Much of the snow had melted off of Lee Flat, so we were able to see more plants along the road (a little worse for the wear however). At the pavement (Highway 190), we once again entered torrential winter rains. What an unlikely day it had been. I hope that seeing the Pearly Gates is not something I get to just once, and I hope that is as pleasant the next time.

 ........ Sally Manning

Eureka Valley May 13 - Leader: Doris Fredendall

Doris Fredendall led 25 plant enthusiasts to the lands east of Big Pine with the promise of spectacular blooms. Just off of Highway 168, the the Plio-Pleistocene Waucoba Lake Beds area yielded colorful arrays of brittlebush (Encelia actoni), Mojave aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia), bush peppergrass (Lepidium fremontii), indigo bush (Psorothamnus arborescens var. minutifolius) and both Stanleya elata (desert plume) and Stanleya pinnata (prince's plume). There were also showy displays of huge Mirabilis alipes (pink four-o'clock) and up on the slopes, the deep magenta flowers of Penstemon monoensis.

For beginners, desert shrubs were lush and easy to identify: budsage (Artemesia spinescens), cheese bush (Hymenoclea salsola), the beautiful winter fat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), hopsage (Grayia spinosa) and the male and female forms of ephedra (Epltedera viridis). Another stop brought us to Astragalus layneae (Layne milk-vetch), Astraglus inoyensis, Lupinus flavoculatus (yellow-eyes) and vivid pink to deep red displays of Castilleja angustifolia.

What a surprise at Lime Hill summit to see abundant Calochortus kennedyi (desert mariposa lily)!! Also present was the delicate lavender of the Sphaeralcea ambigua var. rosacea (lavender wand mallow) and the blooms of Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Mojave mound cactus). As the sky darkened and temperature dropped to about 30, several folks walked onto a gray limestone outcrop and found Chaetopappa ericoides [Leucelene ericoides (Torrey) E. Greene], Arenaria macradenia var. macradenia (green sandwort), Delphinium parishii (desert larkspur), and the dainty threadplant (Nemacladus sp.).
Wann thoughts of Eureka Valley and lunch were dampened by a rain storm on the eastern edge of the valley. However, people ventured out of their cars to view blooming cactus and the elusive desert five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia). We headed home through rain, sleet and snow, all vowing to return soon. Thank you Doris, for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for this year's spring bloom with all of us!

 ........ Kathy Duvall

The Horse Pasture of McMurry Meadows June 3 - Leader: Doris Fredendall

McMurry Meadows lies 9 miles southwest of Big Pine in the Sierra foothills at approximately 6400' elevation. The horse pasture is one of several lush meadows separated by low hills and streams. Eighteen people signed up for this adventure.

The dirt road to the meadow rises gradually through sagebrush scrub to a jagged area of black volcanic rocks harboring Great Basin blue sage (Salvia dorrii var. dorrii), indigo bush (Psorothamnus arborescens var. minutifolius), sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum), Ferris sandwort (Arenaria macradenia ssp. ferrisiae), Mojave prickly pear (Opuntia erinacea var. erinacea). Plentiful at sandy road edges were pink sunbonnets (Loeseliastrum mathewsii).

We stopped at a low saddle to walk over sand blossoms (Linanthus parryae) and Inyo gilia (Gilia inyoensis) to the strangely brush-free acres where bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) blooms in mid-May. A few shell-like dried blossoms, clusters of drying buds, and a few pristine white blooms still remained.

The road is easy driving but a driver's attention tends to wander to the numerous mariposa lilies (Calochortus bruneaunis) poking above buckwheat plants (Eriogonum fasciculatum) instead of on the jarring ruts cut by the rains. Tidytips, tackstem and gilias gave ground interest - (Layia glandulosa, Calycoseris parryi and numerous gila species). Indian paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia) added spice here and there as well.
The sound of water rushing through the road culvert at a willow-bordered curve, and the song of a Mocking bird welcomed us to McMurry Meadows. There were a few moments of busyness as lunches, plant lists and pencils were found before the short walk across long grass to follow, briefly, the white stars of Stellaria longipes alongside a tiny irrigation stream. A low dry hill rose above it with white spur lupine (Lupinus arbustus ssp. calcaratus), a dusky pink milkvetch (Astragalus selpultipes), Inyo milkvetch (Astragalus inyoensis), Owen's Valley penstemon (Penstemon patens), desert larkspur (Delphinium parishii) and Wright's buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii). Down the hill to the northeast corner of the fence, we found a patch of blooming gray desert primrose (Oenothera californicus).

After a detour onto a hillside trail we reached the northwest fence corner and there, at last, we entered into the horse pasture, crawling through the wires with backpacks off. Midget phacelia (Phacelia curvipes), fragrant forget-me-not (Cryptantha utahensis) and blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia sp.) took space on the narrow strip of dry ground over which we walked to the west spring. In the grass above the pool, panicles of white poison Zigadene were a lovely site (Zigadenus venenosus).

A bit of bog-walking brought us to the thin shade of a small group of ash and elm trees. We lunched on grass sparsely dotted with mouse-ear chickweed (Cerastium fontanum ssp. triviale).

A sweep of blue iris (Iris missouriensis) in the southeast corner of the pasture indicated overflow from a hillside spring outside the fence. Low white blooms of Hesperchiron (Hesperchiron californicus) and the basal leaves of many alkali shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) were underfoot among grass and iris but we saw only two of the lovely blooming stalks. It was impossible to miss the brilliant magenta color! Sweet marsh ragwort (Senecio hydrophiloides) and balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) ignored the fence and climbed from pasture to hill slope. Taking a hint from those bright yellow flowers, we too, left the pasture near to our parked cars, and were soon driving from this sheltered haven in the Sierra foothills.

Note: Permission was granted by Murt Stewart, Big Pine Packer, to walk the pasture.

 ........... Doris Fredendall

 Death Valley May 27-2R - Leader: Vince Yoder

So we waited until 9:15, but only 9 of us showed up for the promising weekend trip to the northern end of Death Valley National Park. Weather cool, with threatening dark clouds.

We went for 25 miles from Big Pine where we met before making our first stop on a showy hillside. Echinocereus triglochidiatus, Astragalus acutirostris, Nemacladus rubescens, Lupinus flavoculatus, Ipomopsis (Gilia) polycladon, Pleuraphis (Hilaria) jamesii, Calochortus kennedyi, Echinocereus englemannii, Opuntia echinocarpa, Opuntia erinacea var. erinacea, Yucca brevifoia, Delphinium parishii var. parishii, Castilleja angustifolia (chromosa), Astragalus in yoensis, Phlox stansburii, Gilia latiflora var. elongata, and more ...all in a Joshua Tree Woodland and there were miles of this display!
Next stop only a mile and a half further on at a limestone (carbonate) bluff. Here were typical limestone endemics: Cercocarpus intricatus (littleleaf Mt. mahogany), Cymopterus aboriginum, Glossopetalon (Forsellesia) shinescens, Eriogonum hermannii, Chaetopappa (Lettcelene) ericoides, along with Penstemon floridus var. austtnii, Ctyptantha confertiflora, Symphoricarpus longiflorus, Prunus fasiculata var. fasiculata, both Stanley pinnata and S. elata, Sphaeralcea ambigua var. rosacea, and more.

Our lunch stop was in a limestone canyon in the heart of the Last Chance Range. this is in a "cherry stem" into the Park's north end which is in an extensive mining area. So even though the Park boundaries are nearby, the plants are not afforded special protection. There was Scopulophia rixfordii, Phacelia perityloides var. perityloides, Tricardia watsonii, Arenaria macradenia var. macradenia, Astraglaus panamintensis, Mimulus rupicola, Enceliopsis nudicaulis, Gilia cana, Camissonia walkeri ssp. tortilis, Xylorhiza tortifolia, Phacelia crenulata var. crenulata and more.
Sand Springs, our next stop, is an oasis in an otherwise arid high desert mixed scrub. Here is the rare Astragalus lentiginosus var. sesquimetralis (doing well, too), Sisyrinchium funerium, Anemopsis californica, Distichlis spicata, Heliotropium curassavicum, Glycorhiza lepidota, a Scirupus and a Solidago and - more. Besides plants, a pair of mallards appeared to be nesting near the small pond. Lightening, thunder, a few showers, heavy rain to the east but looking OK to the south.

Next stop-our campsite at Mesquite Springs Campground near Scotty's Castle. After setting up camp we took a stroll up an adjacent wash. We encountered about 40 species, among them: Gilia latifolia, Cuscata salina var. salina (on Larrea), Psathryrotes ramosissima, Eriogonum thomasii, Phacelia calthifolia, Mentzelia reflexa, Anulocaulis (Boerhavia) annulatus, Eucnide urens, Peucephyllum schottii, Gilia ripleyi, Camissonia munzii, Mohavea breviflora, Bebbia juncea var. aspera, and Physalis crassifolia .

The next morning (Sunday) our objective was a carbonate hillside about 12 miles south of Ubehebe Crater turnoff to the Racetrack. Along the way were scads of Geraea canescens, Castilleja angustifolia (Chromosa), Eremalche rotundifolia (2 feet high, 15-20 blossoms and buds), Echinocereus engelmannii, Phacelia crenulata, Eschscholzia glyptosperma, Viguiera reticulata, Cammisonia, Gilia, spp., Echinocactus polycephalus, etc., etc.
When we finally got to our hill over a very rough, wash-board road, we were greeted by the beautiful Arctomecon merriami (bear poppy), with Cymopterus gilmannii, Astragalus layneae, Enceliopsis nudicaulis, Mimulus bigelovii, Atrichoseris platyphylla, Argemone munita and many more species.
The display was so beautiful another mile along our way that we stopped again to revisit Enceliopsis nudicalis, with Sclerocactus polyancistris, Oenothera caespitosa ssp. marginata, Cryptantha virginensis, Acamptopappus shockleyi, Menodora spinescens, and much more all in an another open Joshua Tree Woodland. Mary DeDecker noted that the Enceliopsis had wavy leaf margins and suspected that it might be the variety corrugata only known previously from Devil's Hole in Nevada.

Further on in a wash was a stupendous display of Camissonia brevipes (2.5 feet tall) and Calyoseris wrightii. Also in the wash was an unknown annual Eriogonum.

Our final destination, the Racetrack, was eventually reached for our lunch stop and the official end of the trip.

Here we saw an unusual small saltbush, Atriplex truncata, growing out in the alkali flats.

This was a super trip and the nine of us thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of seeing this year's gorgeous display in the many diverse habitats of this special place.

P.S. As a follow up, Mary DeDecker, Anne Halford, and I made a repeat trip on June 16 to revisit the Enceliopsis and the unknown Eriogonum that was growing in the wash with the Camissonia. A Park Naturalist accompanied us with a GPS (Geographical Positioning Unit) to record where the plants were and witness our sample collecting. We re-confirmed the wavy-leaved Enceliopsis at the two sites, saw an Eriogonum puberulum (rare), a Blepharidachne kingii (King's eyelash grass, a rare species growing on dolomite), and got a sample of the unknown Eriogonum.

Conservation Corner

Sheep being driven through the Owens Valley to pleasant northern pastures? Sure - it's been routine in the past hundred years or so. But in the mid1990's? Nah - that's a thing of the past. Those big double stock trucks haul them all now. Right'? Wrong!

This spring several bands of sheep were driven up through the Valley from below Inyokern to the Casa Diablo and Mono Lake Area. Devastation in onequarter to one-third mile swathes follow their passing. All edible forbs gone; palatable shrubs heavily browsed, creek crossings cleaned out and the ground trampled to a hard crust.

Wet years such as this one make drives attractive. Why spend the money on costly hauling when driving costs are much less and the sheep are in good condition when they get to summer ranges? (Driving is not done in drought years if ephemeral forage is too sparse to sustain the stock).

Rules are that the herd must move at least five miles a day and be kept in a reasonably controlled band so as not to take too much forage from the Valley ranchers who are running cows over much of the same land. We suspect our local ranchers don't like Bakersfield sheep gobbling up "their forage".
So what can we do about this devastation'? Very little it seems, except protest to the BLM about it.

This has been going on for so long that it has almost become a "right". But if we constantly bring pressure to bear at all levels (Congress, BLM (Federal, State and local offices), and the Forest Service ...maybe in time we can make a difference. It will take along time with lots of letters. Since there is a safe, efficient way to get these "hoofcd locusts" to summer pastures without driving them, we should encourage the land managers to require its use ("truck em" - don't "drive em"). So out with pen and paper -- again .

 .............. Vince Yoder

A Dastardly Deed

Our CNPS State emblem, the beautiful Panamint Daisy (Enceliopsis covillei), was the victim of wholesale plant gatherers. The vandals were caught in the act by Death Valley National Park ranger David Brenner. Their car was absolutely loaded with native plants, including a significant number of the Panamint Daisies. The looters were "local" people who knew what they were doing. It was a deliberate violation, a very serious one. We were told that the fine was only $75.00, a mere slap on the wrist. Surely it would have been another story had the vandals been required to appear before the federal magistrate.

The showy yellow daisies have single flowers up to six inches across, perched on 16-15 inch naked stems from a handsome rosette of large, satiny leaves. There are all too few of these rare plants to risk such raids. Perhaps electronic devices or other methods need to be implemented to protect these treasures. Any suggestions?

 ........ Mary DeDecker

Mysteries and Marvels of Plant Life

Answers to the Mysteries and Marvels of Plant Life questions.

How many pollen grains do you think each catkin produces? 5,500,000 pollen grains.

True or False: Orchids are used to make ice cream. Partly true - The flavouring in some kinds of vanilla ice cream cones comes from the cured seed pod of an orchin named Vanilla planifolia.

The world's smallest flower: A floating duckweed called Wulffa arrhiza. Its fronds are only 0.5-1.2 millimeters across and 25 of these plants would fit across your fingernail.

Wildflower Hot Spots

There are many this year, but places that are really going to town right now are the low sage communities in the Bodie Hills, east of Bridgeport. Within the rolling basalt flows are carpets of yellow and pink tufted buckwheat (Eriogonum cespitosum, and E. ovalifolium), the rare butter-yellow Bodie Hills draba (Cusickiella quadricostata), indigo-blue larkspur (Delphinium andersonii), bursts of florescent yellow-green Orthocarpus cuspidatus ssp. copelandii growing against the dark basalt, carpets of white and pink phlox (Phlox condensata), yellow stalks of Senecio multilobatus and Senecio integerrimus and one of my favorites, the delicate ivory-petaled bitteroot (Lewisia rediviva). It's worth the 2 hour drive north of Bishop to see these gems and if you want more information on how to get there and what is blooming throughout the summer call me al work: 872-4881 or at home: 873-6714. Enjoy!!!

 ........ Anne Halford

Other Chapter News

Bristlecnne Chapter Newsletter Index

Hopefully all of you have received the 10 page Bristlecone Chapter Newsletter Index that Vince Yoder painstakingly prepared. It's a great resource with every article, presentation, plant list, etc. in the first 13 volumes of our Chapter Newsletter at your fingertips. Thanks Vince!!!!
Rare Plant Guide Completed

Well it's hot off the press - finally! The BLM and Bristlecone Chapter Rare Plant Field Guide is available. The guide contains illustrations. photographs, and descriptions of 16 rare plants that occur in the BLM, Bishop Resource Area. It can be used as an educational tool and a reference for individuals doing work in the area. It does not include locational information! The guide will be sold for $3.00-5.00 with monies going back into a special environmental education fund that will be earmarked for projects within the Bishop Resource Area. I would like to express my thanks to all the Chapter members who supported and reviewed this guide - I hope you like it! If you would like to see the guide or want more information call Anne Halford at 872-4881.

Correction: Those of you who have the Bristlecone Chapter Board Member Directory will need to correct Mary Allen's phone number. The correct number is: (619) 872-3438.

New Members

The Bristlecone Chapter warmly welcomes the following new members

Ralph Gotell Vancouver B.C.

S.L. Harboldt Bishop, CA

Joanne Jubelier, Ph.D and James D. Zide11, DDS Mammoth Lakes, CA

Kathleen Lucich Bridgeport, CA

Elizabethh Osborne Caliente, CA

Daniel W. Pritchett Bishop, CA

NEXT NEWSLETTER DEADLINE: August 26. Thanks to all that contributed to this month's newsletter - the stories are memorable.