Volume 20 No. 3 May 2000

Bristlecone Chapter
Dedicated to the Preservation of the California Native Flora




Our May meeting will be at the Methodist Church in Independence at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 31. The church is at the corner of Washington and Center Streets, one block west of the courthouse. Dr. Kevin Murray, professor from the University of Montana Biological Sciences Department, will give a talk entitled: "Balancing on a Flat: Constraints on Fish Slough Milk-Vetch Growth and Population Survival".

This talk will provide information on the ecophysiology study Dr. Murray is conducting on the federally threatened Fish Slough milk-vetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. piscinensis) which our chapter helped support in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the BLM Bishop Field Office.

Our Biannual Summer Banquet will be at Whiskey Creek on Thursday evening, June 22. The speaker will be Glenn Keator, with a slide program entitled "Promising Eastside Native Plants for Natural Gardens." He will concentrate on plants from Eastern California's dry habitats, such as sagebrush scrub, pinyon juniper woodland, and Jeffrey pine forest. Dr. Keator, who has a Ph.D. in Botany from U.C.

Berkeley, gives lectures and conducts field trips throughout the state. He is the author of Complete Garden Guide to Native Perennials of California and Complete Garden Guide to Native Shrubs of California, among many other publications. For more information contact Program Chair Steve Ingram at 387-2913.


Tuesday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the White Mountain Research Station. All chapter members and other interested individuals are welcome and encouraged to attend.


Where are all the flowers? It seemed to me that the Owens Valley didn't get much rain this last winter and I thought that there wouldn't be any wildflowers this spring. I was wrong. Last week Anne told me the flowers were great along Division Creek. I went up there and they were indeed amazing. Most of the plants are annuals so you better hurry because they probably won’t last long. Because the perennial shrub component was burned last year there is much less competition for the annuals and they have filled that void very nicely indeed. Another interesting place to visit is above the Buttermilks. A big area there burned up about three years ago. I was there the last week of April and saw some really nice annuals blooming. I was a little early, but I could tell that there would be lots more blooming in the coming weeks. Also if you can, go out soon to West Line Street west of Bishop. The Locust trees are in full

bloom and I have never seen them in such profusion - the smell of their flowers fills the air and just about knocks you out.

On a more administrative note - the state CNPS is currently engaged in a strategic planning process to establish goals, priorities and work plans for the next five years. We have been discussing this at our board meetings but if you have any comments to make feel free to call me and I will get your input passed on to the state. Our local chapter is also still in need of a hospitality person who can be in charge of setting up the refreshments for our meetings - things have been a little sparse lately.

……..Scott Hetzler, a.k.a. El Presidente



The Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Lab (SNARL) Spring 2000 Lecture Series

May 2 Golden Trout on the Kern Plateau: A Natural and Unnatural History - Dr. Roland Knapp, Research Biologist, SNARL, UC Santa Barbara

May 9 What About Bats? - Dr. Joe Szewczak, White Mountain Research Station, UC San Diego

May 16 Climate Change Recorded in Eastern Sierra Forests - Dr. Connie Millar, Research Geneticist, Pacific Southwest Research Station, US Forest Service

May 30 Cows to Coeds: The Challenge of Converting Grazeland to UC Merced - Roger Samuelsen, Senior Associate to the Chancellor, UC Merced

June 6 Microbes, Brine Shrimp and Birds: Current Research at Mono Lake - Dr. Robert Jellison, Research Biologist, SNARL, UC Santa Barbara

June 27 Wildlife of Valentine Reserve and SNARL - Dr. Paul Collins, Senior Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Lectures will be at 7:00 pm Tuesday evenings at the Green Church (Hwy. 395 and Benton Crossing Rd.) Admission is free and the public is invited. For more information call Leslie Dawson at 935-4356 or email ldawson@msi.ucsb.edu


The Mono Lake Committee is offering another selection of excellent natural history courses including these botanically orientated selections. For more information about these courses and registration please contact the Mono Lake Committee at (760) 647 6595.

  • Pigments, Perfumes, and Poisons: An introduction to plant chemistry, June 23-25, $110 per person, $95 for Mono Lake Committee members. Taught by Glenn Keator
  • Mono Basin Wildflowers, July 22-23, $95 per person, $80 for Mono Lake Committee members. Taught by Mark Bagley.

CNPS Bristlecone Chapter 2000

Field Trip Schedule

After an extremely dry fall and early winter we are finally getting some precipitation. Hooray! The Sierra from about Mammoth northward is doing well with snowpack about normal, but like last year there is a sharp decline southward with the Mount Whitney area still about half of normal. The Owens Valley and desert areas are still way below normal, but at least there has been something and the possibility for more in the next few weeks. We'll have to wait and see what the desert wildflowers do. Please join us.


Generally, day trips last most of the day while the overnight trips conclude early Sunday afternoon. For all field trips, be sure to bring plenty of water, lunch, good walking shoes or boots, and appropriate clothing for hot sun or inclement weather. Also useful are a hand lens, floras, and insect repellent on the Sierra trips. Often we are near the vehicles at lunch, but be prepared to carry your lunch on a hike. Trips leave at the time announced, so please arrive at the meeting sites a few minutes early. Unless indicated, the average car should do fine. Car pooling is encouraged. Everyone is welcome, but please no pets. For more information contact Field Trip Chairperson Mark Bagley at 760-873-5326 or e-mail: markbagley@qnet.com.

May 20, Saturday. White Mountains and Bristlecone Pine Forest. Leader: Mark Bagley. Joint field trip with the Dorothy King Young Chapter. Meet at 8:00 am at the Glacier View Campground, junction of Hwy. 395 and 168, just north of Big Pine. Our trip will take us from the Owens Valley floor, near 4000', into the White Mountains up to the subalpine zone, at 10,000', where we'll see the ancient bristlecone pines. Wildflowers will be in bloom at the lower elevations.

May 21, Sunday. Lower Rock Creek Gorge.

Leader: Karen Ferrell-Ingram. Joint field trip with the Dorothy King Young Chapter. Meet at 9:00 am at the Paradise Restaurant, north of Bishop on Old Highway 395/Lower Rock Creek Road, and shuttle up to the trailhead with a stop to look over the edge of the gorge. We will hike back down to Paradise, following Lower Rock Creek as it cascades down the gorge below awesome geological formations and through a riparian woodland of western water birch, willows, and one of the few Eastern Sierra stands of Ponderosa pine. This scenic downhill walk provides fascinating views of geologic history, beautiful flowers and good birdwatching opportunities. It is an easy to moderate walk of about 5 miles, descending from approximately 6200' to 5100', on a fairly rocky, uneven trail. Call Karen at 760-387-2913 with questions.

May 27, Saturday. Owens Lake wetland communities. Leader: Jim Paulus, Great Basin Air Pollution Control Board Botanist. Meet at 10:00 am at the Inter-agency Visitors Center at the junction of Hwy. 395 and 136, just south of Lone Pine. We will caravan to near the sites we'll visit, but will not be able to drive right up to them. Ordinary passenger vehicles should be fine. We will take about three short hikes to view various expressions of Transmontane Alkaline Meadow and Cottonwood-Willow Riparian Forest, both communities of concern in the Owens Valley. We'll learn about how the Lower Owens River Project and Owens Lake dust mitigation s should enhance these communities at Owens Lake. If there is time and conditions are dry, we could take a short trip to see the vegetation-based dust mitigation measures that are in place on the lakebed. The tour should return to the Visitors Center about 4:00 or 4:30 pm.

May 28, Sunday. Swall Meadows wildflower walk. Leader: Karen Ferrell-Ingram.

Meet at 10:00 am at the gravel pit on Sky Meadow Road in Swall Meadows. Planned especially for residents and others who are interested in the many beautiful plants that occur naturally around the Swall Meadows area. This will be an easy walk through the sagebrush scrub and Bishop Tuff deposits that are just north of Swall Meadows. Call Karen at 760-387-2913 for directions.

June 3, Saturday. Upper Harkless Flat, Inyo Mountains. Leader: Daniel Pritchett.

Meet at 9:00 am at the Glacier View Campground, at the junction of Hwy. 395 and 168, just north of Big Pine. Upper Harkless Flat is a lovely basin at about 8500' in the Inyo Mountains just north of Papoose Flat. The basin is noteworthy for its beautiful views, the numerous CNPS-listed species which grow there, as well as for the undisturbed quality of its vegetation. Unfortunately, the Owens Valley Radio Observatory is considering development of a new observatory in this pristine setting. We will leave vehicles in Harkless Flat and hike up a steep slope through pinyon pine forest to reach the site of the proposed observatory. A visit to a nearby disjunct, low-elevation stand of bristlecone pines will be one of the highlights of the trip. There will be some strenuous steep off-trail hiking. High clearance vehicles recommended, 4WD not necessary.

June 10-11, Saturday and Sunday. Dry Lakes Plateau, Bodie Hills. Leader: Anne Halford. Meet at 9:30 am at the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center. 4-wheel drive required. Hiking will be moderate. Camping will be primitive so bring all applicable "car-camping" supplies including water. The Dry Lakes Plateau located at the northwest edge of the Bodie Hills at an elevation of 8,000’ is a large volcanic plateau containing two Pleistocene lake basins. This "island in the sky" offers an incredible array of floristic diversity that includes 5 rare plant species such as the Great Basin "vernal pool" endemic, Polyctenium williamsae or combleaf, a diminutive perennial in the Brassicaceae Family. Other rarities we’ll find are the Bodie Hills draba (Cusickiella quadricostata), Bodie Hills Arabis (Arabis bodiensis), Long Valley milk-vetch (Astragalus johannis-howellii) and Mono Phacelia (Phacelia monoensis). After a day of exploring the plateau we will enjoy an evening under the scintillating Great Basin skies. We will depart the plateau around 12:00 on Sunday. For more information call Anne Halford at (760) 873-6714 or email at fkhalford@earthlink.net

July 7-9, Friday-Sunday. Monitor Pass, Alpine and Mono counties. Leaders: Ann Howald and Peter Warner. Joint trip with Milo Baker Chapter. On Friday afternoon, we can explore the trails through Jeffrey pine forest and meadows around Grover Hot Springs State Park, near Markleeville, where we have reserved five campsites for Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday, we will botanize the area around Monitor Pass, one of the most scenic of all the Sierran passes. The pass, at about 8,000 feet, is an open sagebrush and meadow landscape fringed by groves of quaking aspen. This high elevation sagebrush scrub is enriched with desert and montane wildflowers -- golden Mule's Ears, purple lupines, penstemons and larkspurs, lavender monardellas, crinkle-petalled prickly poppies, creamy pink bitter root, and many, many more. Patches of montane chaparral, scattered stands of firs, and rocky outcrops with pinyon pines accent the slopes. Each of the campsites at Grover Hot Springs can accommodate a maximum of 8 people and two cars. The camping fee is $10/person for one night and $15/person for two nights. (Reservations can be made by sending payment to Peter Warner, 555 Magnolia Avenue, Petaluma, CA 94952-2080.) Each campsite has a firepit and grill, cupboards, bear-proof lockers and tables, and is near drinking water and restrooms (no showers). The park's mineral springs are channeled into concrete pools, where you can swim or just soak ($4 for adults, $2 for children). Contact co-leaders Peter Warner at (707) 763-7405 or peterjwarner@earthlink.net> or Ann Howald (one of our out-of-area Bristlecone Chapter members) at (707) 939-0775 or annhowald@vom.com for more information.

July 16, Sunday. SNARL and Valentine Camp. Leaders: Ann Howald and Mark Bagley. Located near Mammoth Lakes, the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) and Valentine Camp form the Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, a part of the University of California's Natural Reserve System. We will begin the trip at 9:30 am at SNARL, with the rare and disjunct California population of Peducularis crenulata, the scalloped-leaved lousewort (CNPS List 2). We'll then move on to Valentine Camp which contains an unusually diverse sample of eastern Sierran habitats at the ecotone between Great Basin sagebrush desert and coniferous forests of the higher Sierra Nevada. This will be an easy walking trip at elevations of about 8000'. Because this is a reserve, our numbers will be limited so you must sign up with Mark by e-mail at <markbagley@qnet.com> or by calling 760-873-5326.

July 19, Wednesday. O'Harrel Canyon, Glass Mountain. Leader: Scott Hetzler. Meet at 9:00 am at the Little Green Church at the intersection of Hwy. 395 and Benton Crossing Road. We'll drive from there up to O'Harrel Canyon, which has a perennial stream, and hike up the canyon towards Glass Mountain Ridge. A moderately strenuous cross-country hike. High clearance vehicles recommended, 4WD not necessary.

July 29, Saturday. The Lying Head on Mt. Dana, Tioga Pass area. Leaders: Cathy Rose and Kathy Duvall. Meet at Tom’s Place for carpooling at 8:00 am or just outside the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite National Park at 9:00. We will hike from Tioga Pass up the slope of Mt. Dana to the Lying Head. This is a steep, very stiff climb, above 9000 feet, with great botanical rewards. Bring Weeden Sierra Nevada Flora. Call Cathy at 935-4329 for more information.

August 12, Saturday. Glass Creek Meadow.

Leaders: Kathleen Nelson and Sue Weis. Meet at 9:30 am at Glass Creek Campground, across Highway 395 from the Crestview CalTrans Maintenance Station, approximately one mile north of Crestview Rest Area. From there, we will drive on the dirt road to a parking area near the trail access. Though relatively short, at 1-2 miles each way, the beginning of the hike is moderate to strenuous, climbing a steep loose hillside. The reward, Glass Creek Meadow, will be worth the walk. Not only will we have the opportunity to enjoy a wide diversity of plant species, but there have been over 50 species of butterflies recorded from here as well! Be prepared to carry lunch and water, as we’ll have lunch up at the meadow.

Look for our later trips in the next newsletter.



Riparian Ecology in the Desert

(April 15)

Have you ever wondered where the beautiful lush riparian areas are on the Owens Valley floor? Or the real Little Black Rock Springs tucked along a lava flow? Or the secret beach with a waterfall along the Owens River? On April 15th, botanist Jerry Zatorski gave us an opportunity to learn about willows and riparian ecology and to visit these areas.

Our first stop was on the Lower Owens River between Black Rock and Mazourka Canyon Road to see salt cedar (Tamarix ramosissima). Jerry recently worked with the Inyo County Salt Cedar Control Project removing the exotic from the Owens River channel. Once established, salt cedar quickly crowds out native species and destroys the ecological function of once intact riparian systems. The barren location we visited had been cut and safely treated by the County as was well explained by fellow crew member Rick Puskar. Gooding’s willow was beginning to grow again along the river channel.

With birds singing at every stop and many annuals and perennials sweetly tempting us, we then concentrated on seeking the four common willow: coyote willow (Salix exigua), Goodings' or black (Salix goodingii), red (Salix laevigata), and arroyo or yellow (Salix lasiolepis). Sites along Little Black Rock Springs, Goodale Creek at the campground, the Owens River south of Tinnemaha Reservoir, the Big Pine Canal and finally Baker Creek at the foothills of the Sierras were visited. We learned that different willow species are more dominant or less common the further north you go in the valley. With a woody riparian key in hand, we also recognized water birch (Betula occidentalis), red-stemmed American dogwood (Cornus sericea), desert olive (Forestiera pubescens), Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), and black locust (Robbinia pseudoacacia). Thank you Jerry for an educational and well-planned botany trip.

........Kathy Duvall



Yellow tackstem, Calycoseris parryi A. Gray (Asteraceae) and sand blossoms, Linanthus parryae (A. Gray) E. Greene (Polemoniaceae)

Yellow tackstem, a charming yellow-flowered member of the chicory tribe of sunflowers, was one of many new species collected by the much loved and well regarded western botanist Charles Christopher Parry (1823 - 1890) while he was serving as surgeon-naturalist with the Mexican Boundary Survey during the years 1849 - 52. Sand blossoms is one of the most beautiful of the desert annuals collected by Parry; he got it during one of his later sojourns in California, near the "head of the Mojave River" in 1876. (It was also collected about the same time by Washington Matthews in Inyo County, and sent, as was Parry's specimen, to Asa Gray for taxonomic treatment.)

Parry first started making extensive plant collections at age 19 in upstate NY in the countryside of his youth. He was educated in the better schools of the area, culminating in an MD degree from Columbia, where he studied with John Torrey. He became life-long friends with both Torrey and Torrey's protégé Asa Gray, as well as with their St. Louis associate, George Engelmann - the 3 pillars of mid-19th century US botany. In 1846 he settled in Davenport, IA, where he practiced medicine for a brief time. However, he "...soon discovered that his natural tastes ranged far from disease and drew him to the treasures of wood and field." Davenport remained his home for the rest of his life, although he was "almost continuously in the field collecting". His second wife, Eva, (his first wife died 5 years after they were married) was an avid helpmate throughout their 30 years of marriage. I haven't found out much about her, but she must have charmed old Asa Gray considerably, since he named sand blossoms for her (note the feminine -ae ending of the specific epithet).

Most of Parry's botanical collecting for the Mexican Boundary Survey was carried out in California; several other botanists covered the rest of the border. Major Emory, the overall leader of the Survey, writes of many difficulties, not the least of which was arriving in California as the Gold Rush was getting underway! He applauds those of his men who resisted the temptation to leave the survey for the gold fields; certainly such a thought never occurred to Parry, however - he was after botanical gold. When the Survey's final report was published in 1859, the volume on the "Botany of the Border" included a general introduction written by Parry, in which he gave a vivid description of Southern California landscapes at that time. He described the vast expanses of the many species of native spring wild flowers blooming in dense profusion (supplanted in our time by vast expanses of closely-spaced tile-roofed houses).

Nineteen plants occurring in the Eastern Sierra were named for, or by, Parry. There are 62 such plants in California as a whole. His name graces many very beautiful California plants, including Parry's noline (Nolina parryi S. Watson), which gets into Inyo Co. in the Kingston Range according to Mary DeDecker's specimen cards, and the very rare Parry's lily (Lilium parryi, S. Watson), of Southern California mountains. During his lifetime he collected over 30,000 specimens, from California, Colorado (he was dubbed by Joseph Hooker, of Kew Gardens, England, "the King of Colorado Botany"), Utah, and elsewhere in the west. His joys were collecting and exploring; he trod, as he said, "reverently in the steps of Chamisso, Douglas, Nuttall, and others ...". For the most part he left to others the duties of authorship of names for the many new species he collected. Yet, in several publications he did yeoman taxonomic duty, e.g., on the Ceanothus and manzanitas of California. He wrote numerous natural history articles and essays in the scientific, semi-popular and popular literature. He was also responsible for naming several peaks in the Colorado Rockies, including Gray's Peak, Torrey's Peak, Mount Engelmann, James Peak, Audubon Peak, and Mount Eva (for his second wife). "One of the most genial and lovable of naturalists, he united with sound botanical knowledge and method an endearing personality ..." "...the gentle soul of Parry..." "...the good Dr. Parry..." " ... The most warm-hearted, unassuming, and genial of men; one whose learning and humility were alike delightful, whose nature reflected the sweetness of the flowers he loved, and who was welcomed to every fireside ..."

It is difficult to accept the rampant permanent destructive changes brought about by man in nature's realm. One small consolation is to be able to read the eloquent accounts of Parry and others like him, who were on the scene before nature's destruction became so widespread. Parry was witness to major changes in California, caused by the industrious burgeoning population. He was one of the first, in 1883, to raise the alarm over threats to the Torrey Pine (which he had discovered for science in 1850, and named for John Torrey); he called for its protection, which eventually came to pass. Also in 1883, he ended another article with these words: "Coming back [to San Diego] once more after an interval of one-third of a century ... I am confronted by the same features of natural scenery. I have gathered to-day plants that were fresh to my early view thirty-three years ago; but the human changes that rise up before me suggest other reflections that may more properly take the form of unutterable thoughts."

........... Larry Blakely

(This series of essays, illustrated and with references, may now be found on the internet at lnr.dragonfire.net/NATRHIST/whoname/)




The Bristlecone Chapter would like to welcome the following new members:


Philip and Mary Ann Andrews

Ellen Harbert



Next Newsletter Deadline: June 28