Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finding Subularia aquatic L. Awlwort taking a bath!

Finding Subularia aquatic L. Awlwort taking a bath!

At two Sierran locations this little aquatic has been collected flowering under water:

DWT #20352 Dog Lake, Tuolumne County, Yosemite National Park 40-70 cm of water Monday, August 18, 2008

DWT#20698 Johnson Lake, Madera County, Yosemite National Park, in waters to 2 meters deep, Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The southerly distribution station is East Lake, Tulare County:

John Thomas Howell wrote in the 1940 Base Camp Botany (Sierra Club outings section annual:

East Lake (15940). Some plants are found most unexpectedly. This particular plant was found when the botanist was taking a bath! When it first sprouts it is a submerged aquatic, but it doesn't bloom or fruit until the water recedes enough to leave it exposed to the air on the damp strand. While splashing around in the relatively warm (!) water for which East Lake is noted, the botanist noticed tiny plants which he had loosed from the bottom and which floated to the surface. These plants had no flowers but he lost little time in exploring the lake-shore in the vicinity and found there stranded plants in bloom. This inconspicuous plant is a circumpolarite localities chiefly north of East Lake. Since most botanists pass through life without ever seeing this intriguing little plant alive, aren't we glad we took a bath!




Thursday, November 19, 2009

Franciscan Manzanita buried viable seed mitigation

The rediscovery of Arctostaphylos franciscana Eastw. [A. hookeri G. Don ssp. franciscana (Eastwood) Munz ] right in the path of a critical highway project and news reports of what is planned to mitigate the problem have not mentioned one critical factor: buried viable seed. Buried seeds are genetic individuals, and take under the endangered species act can be extended to include any removal of individuals from the gene pool. If we mitigate the problem only by propagation, and later planting ex situ, a take will occur because unique genotypes that exist only as buried viable seed will not be provided for.


It might seem a little fishy that the prior known sites for A. h. ssp. franciscana were on serpentine on Mt. Davidson, while the Doyal Drive site is (probably) on stabilized dunes (?), but both A. hookeri ssp. franciscana and A. h. ssp. ravenii Wells were once sympatric on Mt. Davidson (Roof, 1976 Four Seasons Vol. 5) whereas now both are reduced to single remnant individuals on non-ultramatic substrata. The substrate character of the Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. franciscana site is relevant: buried viable seed might be well distributed both horizontally and vertically over a considerable distance about the newly discovered single bush if in fact the soils there are loose or sandy, and even if the soils are not sand, buried seed is someplace out there and vulnerable.


In order to fully mitigate potential impacts to Arctostaphylos hookeri ssp. franciscana, a program of salvage intended to capture buried viable seed will be required. Yes, it sounds nuts, but soil excavation and processing should be conducted. Volumes of soil excavated from the site need to be trucked to a experimental site, aliquots inspected directly for seeds, while the bulk needs to be processed to induce germination. How to do this: conduct research. Should the soil be cold stored until the research indicated how to proceed? Should the soil be mechanically scarified? Fire simulated? Again, conduct research.


A billion dollar highway project is not likely to be halted in spite of the rediscovery of an 'extinct' plant, but a fraction of the cost needs to be diverted to the conservation of the Franciscan Manzanita. A stimulus plan to gain a better understanding of manzanita biology is needed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Epilobium oreganum – absent from the Sierra Nevada

It is my opinion that the name Epilobium oreganum Greene has been misapplied to plants of E. glandulosum ssp. glandulosum in the Sierra Nevada; plants with true 4-branched styles (topmost photo) have not been collected from the region. Presently, California Dept. of Fish and Game 'Rarefind' records have been corrected to reflect the absence of Epilobium oreganum in the Sierra, but the California Native Plant Society Inventory has not.

The problem arises because the key in Munz and Keck 1959 would direct long styled plants of E. glandulosum var. glandulosum to the name E. exaltatum E. Drew, which had a stated range in their Manual from the Sierra north to Oregon and Montana etc. Epilobium exaltatum E. Drew is a straight synonym of E. oreganum Greene, so the Munz & Keck application of that name was incorrect.

Several specimens were cited in older versions of NDDB as E. oreganum Greene from the Sierra:

JEPS72727 (EO#30) has not been annotated. I have inspected the specimen, but did not annotate it. My opinion is that the specimen is E. glandulosum var. glandulosum.

JEPS89974 (EO#36, Tulare County) is E. oregonense not E. oreganum.

UC1187138 (EO#39) is a specimen of E. oregonense

EO#40 & 41, 42, & 43 are records based on Gordon True's Nevada County Plant List, which in the list (my edition is 1973 mimeographed version) are records for E. exaltatum Drew, so again are E. glandulosum var. glandulosum

NDDB EO#29 is a report by Ledyard Stebbins from Wrights Lake. In his Wright's Lake Flora, Ledyard applied the name, probably Epilobium exaltatum via Munz's key, to this collection. Ledyard and Jack Major shared a cabin at Wrights Lake, and as their student, I was there many times. The plants grow in the meadow north of the cabin, and I have revisited and recollected the material, which is clearly E. glandulosum var. glandulosum (see the lowermost photo above). I suspect Ledyard's uncertainty is owing to the fact that c&nSNH plants of E. glandulosum var. glandulosum have occasional outgrowths of the stigmatic surface, which if not carefully inspected as high magnification [and particularly if the style is loaded with pollen] can appear as style branches.

Epilobium oreganum has truly 4-branched styles (see topmost photo above) and slightly zygomorphic flowers, features which you can readily see in the photo. My photo in Calphotos (0000 0000 0704 0293 (2004-07-11), the lowermost photo above, is E.glandulosum var. glandulosum: these plants had styles which are truly clavate with non-zygomorphic flowers, but the styles have warty outgrowths that could be confused with style branches. The 4-branched style condition in Epilobium shared only by other very distinctive species (E. luteum, E. niveum E. obcordatum, key couplet 14. in the Jepson Key).

So, it is my position that Oregon fireweed (Epilobium oreganum) does not occur in the Sierra Nevada, and that it is possible to mistake plants of E. glandulosum var. glandulosum that have warty outgrowths on the style as having branched styles, and thus misapply the name Epilobium oreganum.

Epilobium oreganum is a narrow endemic of the Klamath Region in Del Norte Glenn, Humboldt, Mendocino, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counites in California, and Josaphine, Jackson and Douglas counites, Oregon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pseudo-vivipary in Sisyrinchium bellum

Vivipary is defined as the precocious and continuous growth of the offspring when still attached to the maternal parent; in the case of plants, it would pertain by definition to the continual growth of the embryo, essentially germination before it ought to occur. Mangroves are viviparous. Ordinarily, plant embryos undergo a period of quiescence, the genes which code for molecular cascades that govern embryo dormancy and subsequent release to growth are still not well known. and perhaps I don't want to know all of their little quaint molecules anyways.

In FNA Vol. 26 vivipary is attributed to blue-eye grass (Sisyrinchium) with the statement "White flowers may occur in otherwise blue-flowered species, and vivipary occasionally occurs". My observation of Sisyrinchium bellum suggests that the purported yivipary is not vivipary per se, but is rather considered pseudovivipary.

In Sisyrinchium bellum, the inflorescence nodes develop subsidiary vegetative axes which initiate and develop well after flowering; resulting in vegetative reproduction. The inflorescence axis in large, perennial races of S. bellum arch downwards, and the nodes are often in contact with the soil, resulting in vegetative expansion, but hardly is this vivipary in the strict sense. This feature is variable in nature, and rarely have I seen it in grassland settings. However, Sisyrinchium bellum is also a weed-of-sorts in forested-setting gardens like mine in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

The pseudo-vivipary feature can be clearly seen it the photo of the voucher specimen, JEPS109033.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mt. Dana Lupine – Lupinus danaus

Lupinus danaus was described from a collection made by Henry N. Bolander (#5087) labeled as "12,500 ft" on Mt. Dana [see the image of the isotype US321123 above, oriented as in nature]. In the Jepson Manual, the taxon is not treated. Munz & Keck (1959) treated it as a variety of L. lyallii. Variation in the Lupinus lepidus group is complex: Barneby (Intermountain Flora Vol. 3B 1989) offered a classification that placed these dwarf perennial lupines in context, but did not deal directly with the var. danaus since it is considered exclusively Sierran.

This summer I observed Lupinus danaus in vegetation sampling many times. The holotype and the plants in the field share the feature of having prostrate, very sparsely leafy peduncles that arch upwards only distally, such that the inflorescence is displayed upright at a short 1-3 inch distance from the actual rosette, which is very sparsely leafy indeed. This feature is not one that I have seen in photos of Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii, and it in fact may be a feature equal to those which Barneby used to recognize other variants of Lupinus lepidus, and hence the combination Lupinus lepidus var. danaus might be indicated. Thus, at least as the plants appear in the field, they differ consistently from var. lobbii, which has relatively shorter erect peduncles [Barneby's "development and attitude of peduncles"] or perhaps also "spatial relationship between foliage and raceme".

Whether or not the peduncle feature of the putative var. danaus is under genetic control is the central question.

Munz & Keck (1959) gave the range of Lupinus danaus as "Sierra Nevada north to Warner Mtns, w. Nev." [the latter would be Mount Rose, NV].

below I have scanned Barneby's comments verbatum [ my emphasis added] from Intermountain Flora p. 257 for consideration of the problem:

Dwarf perennial lupines are far less numerous in the Intermountain region than the teeming multitudes of L. argenteus, but they are almost as difficult to classify and consequently have acquired similarly extensive literature and synonymy. The characters that contribute to the individuality of an individual plant, to a population of similar plants, or to a conceptually idealized taxon are almost all quantitative and without exception independently variable. The most obvious are the degree of caulescence and mode of branching, the length and orientation of hairs, the size of leaves, the development and attitude of peduncles, the spatial relationship between foliage and raceme, the average length of raceme and density of flowers along its axis, and the size of petals. From early times these have been the external markers by which taxonomists have attempted to discover comprehensible order in this vexatiously difficult group. Detling's analysis of L. lepidus and kindred forms (1951) demonstrated the continuity of variation in all observed character states, and his conservative taxonomy, strongly conditioned by facts of dispersal and ecology, was adapted by Hitchcock (1961) to the dwarf lupines of the Northwestern flora and best harmonizes with standards accepted elsewhere in Fabaceae. It cannot be denied that a measure of undesirable simplification is inherent in this approach to Lupinus. Indefinitely numerous individual populations of dwarf lupines or small groups of such adapted to a particular habitat or confined to a particular region certainly do possess an idiosyncratic facies derived from a particular syndrome of characters. They are especially marked among geographically disjunct alpine or subalpine races of the aggregate L. lepidus var.lobbii and among the races of var. aridus remotely scattered in austere valley habitats over eastern Nevada and southeastern Oregon, no two of which seem exactly alike at all points. Undue emphasis on differences between these minor races leads inexorably to the quick sands that ultimately engulfed Charles Piper Smith. On the other hand wider, more comprehensive specific and infraspecific concepts suffer progressively from lack of definition. Most varieties of L. lepidus are truly dwarf lupines, with low tufted or diffusely matted foliage and stems reduced to a few short internodes or to columnar caudex-branches sheathed in stipules. The vars. confertus and ramosus however, have well developed primary stems sometimes giving rise to axillary fertile branchlets and therefore resemble in habit forms of L. argenteus. The dorsally glabrous banner and persistent floral bracts either singly or together distinguish these taller varieties of L. lepidus from all of L. argenteus.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Poa sierrae – a Sierra Nevada endemic rare grass - List 1B?

Poa sierrae is a Considered but Rejected taxon on the CNPS Inventory. It is a highly distinct taxon of Section Madropoa [easily distinguished by its odd fleshy bulblets]. The FNA distributon map, and the Consortium records show about the same geographic range: I can map about 10 locations from the Consortium database and from the protologue [Wasmann J. Biol. 37:18-20. 1979] in Butte, Placer and Nevada counties at 2000-4200 ft [the Madera County location CHSC67420 is an outlier and might be mis-identified]. How and when this taxon got passed off as common whom knows; it was on the reject list on the 1984 CNPS Inventory.

Because of the paucity of known stations it suggests to me that it would be at least CNPS List 4, perhaps it is less common and would make CNPS List 1B. If it has not been suggested for review than I now do so.

Known Locations [Consortium accession number/latitude/longitude/elevation]

CHSC39500,39.64068,-121.27439,2004 ft

CAS623743,39.97274,-121.27602,2268 ft (and various isotypes)

CHSC37340,39.75111,-121.26891,3336 ft

CHSC41188,39.83305,-121.42397,2479 ft

CHSC96855,39.63283,-121.30083,2627 ft

POM265916 ,39.20236,-120.80924,3471 ft

UCD74356 ,39.03105,-120.70085,2687 ft

JTH4 2650,39.95084,-121.30246,2055 ft

G.H. True Jr. 6565,39.35343,-120.81760,2556 ft

Stebbins 5151,39.10299,-120.92471,1315 ft

Leonardi spring ,38.90896,-120.54636,4396 ft

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tall Alpine Aster (Oreostemma elatum) does not occur at Yuba Pass?

Oreostemma is a distinctive genus of aster: rosettes, taprooted, mesophytic. The center of origin [sensu Fernald] is doubtless in the "Nevadaplano" – the himalaya-like mountains of California and Nevada that are now thought to be presently lower in elevation by perhaps 2000 meters than they were in the past

Orestemma elatum is reported from Yuba Pass, Sierra County, based on a specimen collected by J.T. Howell on August 21, 1951 (RSA88401, there would doubtless be a CAS duplicate, but that important collection is not databased).

Orestemma elatum is distinguished from O. alpigenum on the basis it its lack of pubescence, three-veined outer phyllaries, which are often indurate-stramineous at the base.

On August 4, 2009 I visited Yuba Pass summit to recollect (#20731) material of the reported occurrence: I found that the plants at this station do not exhibit features of Orestemma elatum, but rather are the low-elevation tall race of O. alpigenum [which may, or may not, deserve a name] – they are pubescent, their phyllaries are one-nerved [see the photo] and not markedly stramenous proximally.

At elevation in the High Sierra, O. alpigenum has a distinctive and relatively constant growth habit: relatively narrow leaves (2-4 mm) and short scapes (<2dm) that are usually partially decumbent. By contrast, the growth habit of plants in montane fen habitats are markedly different: wider leaves (10 mm), tall scapes (to 3 dm) that are generally erect. The aggregate differences make suggest two natural taxa are masquerading under the name O. alpigenum, but it remains to be demonstrated if the differences in habit are not clinal.

Long ago, once upon a time, I learned from John Thomas Howell that it was often most effective [provocative even] to apply a not-exactly-correct name to a specimen in the vain hope (not in all instances is such hope vain) that an outlier would attract the attention of a monographer. I can see how JTH would have used the name O. elatum for his collection: after all, he had the most experience with O. alpigenum throughout the High Sierra, and would have recognized the gross differences in habit between the low, narrow leaved alpine meadow plants and these mid-elevation, tall herbs.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Alkali grass apparently extirpated from Soda Springs, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park

The Soda Springs at Tuolumne Meadows were first visited by botanists in 1863, when William H. Brewer and the California Geological Survey first encamped there. The springs are gas charged and mineralized [ca. 2.2 mS in August 2008]: they form a marsh dominated by halophytic vegetation characterized by arrowgrass (Triglochin coccinea and T. maritima) etc. at 8600 feet [2640 meters] An alkali grass, Puccinellia nuttalliana, has been collected twice at the Soda Springs: in 1944 by John Thomas Howell, and again in 1949 by Carl W. Sharsmith. Puccinellia nuttalliana was not relocated when comprehensive vegetation inventory of Soda Springs was conducted in 2004.

I visited the Soda Springs at Tuolumne Meadows on August 18, 2009 with the specific intent of locating Puccinellia nuttalliana. I did not relocate the occurrence. Has it become extirpated?
Presumably this halophytic grass would occur in the most saline portions of the spring outflow, where visitors do not regularly tread [being confined to the path that traverses the spring outflow]

In the 1976-1977 drought, Triglochin coccinea became extirpated in a mineralized spring in the Harvey Monroe Hall Natural Area, where it had been recorded by Clausen & Keck decades before. It is uncertain when Puccinellia nuttalliana might have disappeared at the Soda Springs, but the 1976-1977 drought would be a good first suspect.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata) – also extirpated from Santa Cruz, County, California?


As with the case of yellow pond lily (Nuphar polysepala), a suite of related wetland plants once occurred in the central coastal region of California. One of these is Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), an aquatic plant that is infrequent in the Sierra Nevada. Buckbean is distributed throughout the northern hemisphere of Earth, extending south into California at its southerly distributional limit. Now, I find a report [A. J. Plater et al. 2006. Climate and human impact on lowland lake sedimentation in Central Coastal California: the record from c. 650 AD to the present. Reg. Environ Change 6: 71–85] which records Menyanthes trifoliata from modern-era sediment records in Pinto Lake, near Watsonville. Menyanthes trifoliata was not included in the "An Annotated Checklist of Vascular Plants of Santa Cruz County, California" presumably because it was eliminated before any of the compilers of that list were born! It is yet another recent extirpation of regional wetland flora?


Dr. H.H. Behr, an early-era medical doctor of San Francisco, listed Buckbean from a marsh in San Francisco Bay [ 1888, Flora of the vicinity of San Francisco]. The same setting was known to support other circumpolar wetland plants [viz. Carex comosa, and cotton-grass, Eriophorum gracile] which are all now gone.


Interestingly, Helen K. Sharsmith collected Menyanthes trifoliata from the Mount Hamilton Range {although the record is not given in her "Flora of the Mount Hamilton Range of California, American Midland Naturalist 34:289-367. 1945], labeling her specimen "the South end of Mt. Day ridge". On the same day, Sharsmith also collected specimens of other marsh taxa from a "sag pond on the South end of Mt. Day ridge". On Google Earth there is an intact pond at 37.39131,-121.68344 which might be the location for this report. The site appears to be intact, but it needs resurvey, also.



Monday, October 19, 2009

Yellow Pond Lily – now extirpated from Santa Cruz County

Nuphar polysepala Engelm. is a infrequent aquatic plant of lakes in the Sierra Nevada, and even less frequent elsewhere in California along the coast. The southerly distributional limit is in the vicinity of Oso Flaco Lake, San Luis Obispo County where rare aquatic plants such as like Rorippa gambelii and Arenaria paludicola are found. The recent "An Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Santa Cruz County, California" (2005) does not attributed Nuphar polysepala to the county, although in "Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California" [J.H. Thomas, 1961] this pond lily is attributed to "San Francisco, Pescadero, Watsonville and Big Basin". None of these sites is vouchered in the Consortium of California Herbaria database [another example of the deficient aspect of not having CAS data].

The Watsonville location is confirmed by William H. Brewer, who in his notebooks associated with the Geological Survey of California collections at UC/JEPS, noted it grew in "the laguna near Watsonville". On August 4th, 1861, Brewer left camp at San Juan Bautista, and rode to Santa Cruz, passing out of the mouth of the Pajaro river en route: he noted its presence. It is uncertain to which present day lake Brewer's reference to "the laguna" , Pinto Lake, Kelly Lake and Kelly Lake are candidates, while College Lake and Lake Tynan are similarly implicated (it was a time of no local placenames, and Brewer's party was of course making the first real maps!).

Today, Nuphar polysepala is extirpated from Santa Cruz County. The pre-settlement presence of Nuphar implies also that a boreal marsh florula might have been present locally, a habitat of course extirpated. Plants like Rorippa gambelii and Arenaria paludicola come to mind...were they once present also?

The San Francisco record is reported by Behr (1888, Flora of the vicinity of San Francisco) as near the "Marine Hospital", presumably some now filled pond on the present day Presidio. Brewer also collected Nuphar polysepala in Marin County (UC133092) at Olema Lake, Marin County on October 2nd, 1861. The recently revised Marin Flora does not report it extant there, and also reports other potentially extirpated sites in that county.

Overall, the collective record indicates that many former coastal sites for Nuphar polysepala
are now extirpated, as are other lowland sites. I have seen Nuphar polysepala in the vicinity of Locke, San Joaquin County as recently as the early 1970s – is it still extant in the Delta, or has it succumbed there to salinization? Perhaps Nuphar polysepala
belongs on CNPS List 2 to insure it is afforded adequate assessment

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Density of Herbarium Specimens in California

DWTaylor Jan 2007, revised Oct 2009

The assumption is often made that additional herbarium specimens from a well populated state such as California are not needed, and that holdings in herbaria are overly sufficient for biogeographic and taxonomic purposes. If that were so, we would not be continuing to discover new species at a constant pace, nor would we note any sizable number of distributional uncertainties as Flora of North America volumes or Jepson Manual II treatments appear.

As of October, 2009 there were ≈1,078,730 specimens in the Consortium of California Herbaria dataset (1, 068,216 with the county known). The figure and table summarize the variation in specimen density.

The density of herbarium specimens is variable among the 58 California counties. Some counties are well collected, while others remain poorly documented. Several counties in the populated portions of central California (Map 1) are surprisingly under collected [Merced, Madera, Fresno and Kings County], as more are remote counties in Northern [Lassen and Trinity counties] and the far desert reaches [Imperial county]. San Francisco County is artificially over collected owing only to its small size. Kings County has only 644 records.

Table 1. Number of Consortium specimens and specimen density (specimens/km2) for each California County [string: county, number of specimens, specimen density] -

San Francisco 3668 34.861
San Diego 117317 10.757
Los Angeles 95174 9.329
Santa Barbara 61719 9.328
Marin 10836 7.993
Butte 30952 7.256
Santa Cruz 8319 7.187
Orange 14696 7.106
Napa 10004 5.193
San Mateo 5799 5.010
Alameda 9225 4.840
Contra Costa 8818 4.634
Ventura 29525 4.106
Riverside 69502 3.720
Lake 11731 3.588
El Dorado 15293 3.442
Solano 6775 3.135
Nevada 7666 3.080
Monterey 26069 3.047
Santa Clara 10105 3.016
San Luis Obispo 24269 2.833
Mariposa 10125 2.684
Amador 3985 2.612
Mono 19752 2.526
Plumas 16676 2.502
Del Norte 6358 2.440
Alpine 4636 2.422
Humboldt 22281 2.403
Sacramento 5952 2.365
Placer 8627 2.353
Sonoma 9451 2.276
Tuolumne 13158 2.274
Yolo 5929 2.257
San Bernardino 112541 2.166
Sierra 4874 0.962
Colusa 5361 1.795
Inyo 42969 1.623
Modoc 16444 1.562
Kern 32878 1.561
Yuba 2522 1.520
Tehama 11598 1.516
Sutter 2234 1.434
Calaveras 3755 1.419
Mendocino 12589 1.384
Tulare 16676 1.339
San Benito 4806 1.337
Siskiyou 20621 1.268
Glenn 3730 1.092
Stanislaus 4190 1.074
Shasta 10515 1.072
Fresno 15411 0.995
Trinity 8036 0.976
Imperial 9888 0.915
Madera 4830 0.869
Lassen 10002 0.848
Merced 4197 0.834
San Joaquin 2513 0.685
Kings 644 0.179

Totals 1068216 2.628

Monday, October 5, 2009

Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonamensis not in Humboldt County?

The application of the name Arctostaphylos canescens Eatwood ssp. sonamensis (Eastwood) Wells to plants of the High North Coast Range region of Humboldt County, California is doubtful. Records for this CNPS List 1B.2 taxon are attributed to Mendocino and Humboldt Counties by both CNPS and CNDDB. An alternative taxonomic view is here offered that considers the northern, glandular plants to be hybrids between Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. canescens X A. viscida ssp. pulchella, and thus the subject plants are not of conservation concern.

Eastwood (1933) described Arctostaphylos sonamensis from a type from Rincon Ridge, Sonoma County. Knight (1985) later recognized the taxon as distinct from A. canescens. Wells (1988) submerged A. sonamensis as subspecies of A. canescens, commenting;

"a consistently different glandular race of A. canescens with a wide but segregated (allopatric) distribution relative to the nominate subspecies...Although subsp. sonamensis occurs on volcanic and other rocks, it appears to be restricted to serpentinite at the northern limits of its known range, as on the summit of Horse Mountain, Humboldt Co., (unpublished collection). Perhaps the glandulosity of pedicles and fruit and serpentine tolerance derive from some genes of A. viscida ssp. pulchella having introgressed into A. canescens ssp. canescens at some time and place."

Wells (2000) continued to attribute Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonamensis to Horse Mountain, Humboldt County.

Taxa of Arctostaphylos are well known to form fully fertile hybrids where related, diploid clades come into close contact (Dobzhanskey 1953, Schmid et al. 1968, Gottleib 1968, Schierenback et al. 1992), particularly where manzanitas are abundant in early successional plant communities where ecological segregation present in 'climax' settings has broken down by disturbance (Anderson 1948, Kruckeberg 1977). Several named hybrids involving Arctostaphylos canescens and A. viscida are known (Wells 1988).

Pubescence Features of the Plants in Question

Eastwood (1933) circumscribed Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonamensis on the basis of having two trichome types within the inflorescence: the twigs, pedicles and rachices bearing long, multicellular white trichomes as well as glandular trichomes, and the fruits bearing only glandular trichomes. Similarly, Wells (2000) characterizes the difference between Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. canescens and Arctostaphylos
canescens ssp. sonamensis on the following basis:

Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. canescens:

pedicles, rachises and twigs without glands, white hairy; ovary and fruit egandular

Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonamensis:

pedicles, rachises and twigs minutely glandular, glands often obscured on twigs by downy white hairs; ovary and fruit with minute glands

Based on both Eastwood (1933) and Wells (2000), plants that lack glandular trichomes on the pedicles or inflorescence rachises do not conform to the circumscription of Arctostaphylos
canescens ssp. sonamensis.

Plants on in the vicinity of Board Camp Mountain

Plants of Arctostaphylos canescens were found at two sites in the vicinity of Board Camp Mountain in July 2009 (vouchered Taylor #20626 bound for JEPS). Both sites [T4N R4E & T5N R3E] support only isolated, waif volunteers along roads. At both sites, the plants are invariant: glandular pubescence is confined entirely to the fruits, being absent from the pedicles and rachices of the inflorescence (see photo). In this regard, these plants do not fit the circumscription of Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonamensis because they lack glandularity on the pedicles and rachices. Gottleib (1968) showed that the anatomical distribution of glandularity of hybrids between A. viscida ssp. pulchella and Arctostaphylos canescens on serpentine at Waldo, Oregon was variable, and because of the lack of glandularity other than on the fruit, the subject plants are most similar to Arctostaphylos x cinerea T.J. Howell rather than Arctostaphylos x bracteata T.J. Howell or A. x. oblongifolia T.J. Howell (Wells 1988).

Ultimately, there is no single model of manzanita taxonomy that is correct to the exclusion of alternative hypotheses [that is, absent a genomic-level understanding]: this instance in my view is that the weight of the evidence suggests that Arctostaphylos canescens ssp. sonamensis is a narrow endemic of Sonoma County, and that similar plants found in Humboldt County, including those attributed to Horse Mountain by by Wells (1988, 2000), and subsequently elsewhere in the region are plants of hybrid origin between A. viscida ssp. pulchella and Arctostaphylos canescens, and these plants should not be treated as rare and are not typical Arctostaphylos
canescens ssp. sonamensis.Literature Cited:

Literature Cited:

Anderson, E. 1948. Hybridization of the habitat, Evolution 2:1-9.

Dobzhansky, T. 1953. Natural hybrids of two species of Arctostaphylos in the Yosemite region of California. Heridity 7:73-79.

Eastwood, A. 1933. New species of Arctostaphylos. Leaflets Western Botany

Gottlieb, L.D. 1968. Hybridization between Arctostaphylos
viscida and A. canescens in Oregon. Brittonia 20:83-93.

Kruckeberg, A.R. 1977. Mantanita (Arctostaphylos)
hybrids in the Pacific Northwest: effects of human and natural disturbances. Systematic Botany 2(4:233-250.

Schmid, R., T. Mallory and J.M. Tucker. 1968. Biosystematic evidence for hybridization between Arctostaphylos nissenana and A. viscida. Brittonia 20:34-43.

Schierenbeck, K. , R.W. Patterson and G.L. Stebbins. 1992. Morphological and cytological evidence for polyphyletic allopolyploidy in Arctostaphylos mewukka (Ericaceae). Plant Systematics & Evolution 179:187-205.

Wells, P.V. 1988. New combinations in Arctostaphylos (Ericaceae): annotated list of changes in status. Madrono 35(4):330-341

Wells, P.V. 2000. The Manzanitas of California also Mexico and the World. Privately printed

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yosemite National Park trail distances correspond to map distances

Yosemite National Park trail signs are classic Sierrana: thick steel plate hand cut by torch, rusted steadiness, upright after countless winter snows. The trail mileage on some signs is obviously incorrect. In general, how do the trail distances correspond to map distances.

To make the comparison, I recorded the trail distances at each junction on a route from Crescent Lake to Glacier Point trail head. A total of 7 junctions were passed, each with three sign posts [the junction numbers in the tabulation below are numbered along the route as passed] Map distances were computed in TOPO based on USGS 7.5-minute quadrangles at 4x magnification. Distances to place names that involved more than one route were omitted.

Overall the results show that trail signs and map distances correspond very well. Of the 46 pair wise comparisons possible, the majority of instances have the trail sign distances slightly longer than the map distances, but only by a minor fraction: 5.5% longer distance. Some distances were inconsistent by as much as 20%






Junction 1

Johnson Lake





Royan Arch Lake





Buck Camp





Chiquita Pass










Deer Camp





Bridalveil Camp





Buena Vista Lake









Junction 2

Buck Camp










Chiquita Pass





Buena Vista Lake





Deer Camp





Bridalveil Camp









Junction 3






Buena Vista Lake





Buck Camp





Chiquita Pass





Deer Camp





Bridalveil Camp









Junction 4

Buena Vista Lake










Buck Camp





Chiquita Pass





Deer Camp





Ostrander Lake





Bridalveil Camp









Junction 5

Deer Camp










Buck Camp





Chiquita Pass





Ostrander Lake





Bridalveil Camp









Junction 6

Deer Camp





Buck Camp










Ostrander Lake





Bridalveil Camp









Junction 7

Ostrander Lake





Deer Camp










Buck Camp





Chiquita Pass





Glacier Point Road





Bridalveil Camp











Friday, April 10, 2009

Three Plants now missing from Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley is arguably the most visited place on Earth. With three million visitors cramming into an area of about 10 square-miles, it is no wonder that the flora of Yosemite Valley should suffer. Exactly how it has suffered has not been subject of sufficient study.
How has the Valley flora changed? The topic has been addressed, peripherally, by Heady & Zinke 1978, and it is well known from photographs that woody vegetation has historically been on the increase in the Valley and that meadow and herbaceous communities have declined.
However, we can draw on another historical account to illustrate the hypothesis that human impacts have caused some plants to disappear from the Yosemite Valley scene. In 1891, Katharine Brandegee published an essay “Flora of Yo Semite” in Zoe [Vol. 4, 155-167]. The Brandegee paper is a narrative describing the conspicuous. Brandegee states specifically the paper is based on specimens collected by the California Botanical Club in 1891, and on notes by J.M. Hutchings.

Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia)
Taxus brevifolia is at or near its southerly geographic limit in the Yosemite region. The documented present-day southern distributional limit for Pacific Yew is in the Stanislaus River watershed at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Calaveras County, about 30 miles [and two major river canyons] to the north. A single specimen (UC334344, originating from the Lemmon herbarium, is labeled as “Yosemite V, 1874, Muir”, and if taken on face value, indicates that yew might have been extirpated from the Yosemite Valley flora. Pacific Yew has not been documented by resurveys (P. Rundel. 1969. Madroño 19: 300; Griffin & Critchfield 1976 did not map it as it is not a ‘forest tree’) by resurvey. Brandegee (p. 160) states “the Yew (Taxus brevifolia) grows near the water in the cañon of the Merced”, and [also in discussion of Torreya california] states “neither this tree of the last quite reaches the valley”. Taxus brevifolia has not been documented as extant in the Park. Although the canyon of the Merced is rarely traveled, it is more likely that if an extant occurrence remained hidden in the less frequently traversed canyon regions, it nonetheless would have drawn someone’s attention. Thus, with doubt, Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) can be listed as extirpated from the Park.

Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia california)
On p. 158: Dutchman’s-pipe (Aristolochia California) grows near Tissack bridge. The flowers are seldom collected because they appear before the leaves…”. No extant site for Aristolochia is known in the Valley. The stated upper elevation limit given in the Jepson Manual is 700 m [2300 ft], which would make any occurrence in the Valley an upper outlier. It is not unlikely that Aristolochia occurred there: in cultivation [based on the horticultural profile in the Jepson Manual, it might be able to survive in the Valley climate, which is snowy but also relatively mild in terms of extreme freezes: hard freezes to -12 C are rare].

The location of Tissack bridge is also in question: that placename does not appear on any map. However, early maps of the valley label the road from Happy Isles north toward Mirror Lake as Tisscak Avenue, hence it is likely that Tissack bridge is present day Happy Isles Bridge [note the small b of bridge, indicating perhaps a non-specific reference to the bridge on Tissack Avenue….?]

Fawn-lily (Erythronium sp.)
on p. 166 Brandegee states “The purple dog-tooth violet (Erythronium purpurascens) is found on the south side of the Valley , from the upper iron bridge to Tooloolaweack Cañon” Tooloolaweack is an older place name for present day Illilouette Canyon. Exactly which species of Erythronium was collected remains uncertain. Any specimen was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire which consumed most of the herbarium at the California Academy of Sciences, where Brandegee was a curator. I have come to consider that as curator, Katherine Brandegee filed specimens according to published names available in Botany of California [1876-1880] and other publications [Gray and Watson papers in Proc. Amer. Acad.] This practice extended to using those published names in print, in works such as “Flora of Yo Semite”. This, it is my opinion, that Brandegee’s application of the name Erythronium purpurascens to a plant from Yosemite Valley was a misapplication, based on the fact that Erythronium purpurascens does not grow this far south in the Sierra. She was simply using a folder name – that is, the only published name available at the time, and a folder in which several then undescribed species would have resided.

The Yosemite fawn lily may be either of four species known from the central Sierra, all endemics: E. taylori, E. hartwegii, E. pluriflorum and E. tuolumnense. The latter two species have yellow flowers, although it is not impossible that the specimen did not preserve flower color, it is more likely that the Yosemite plant was a plant with white or mixed white-yellow tepals. That leaves as candidates only the former two species. Of these, E. hartwegii is confined to the foothills, below 2000 feet [Note: syn. E. ‘multiscapoideum’ (Kellogg) Nelson & Kennedy, a long used - and incorrectly spelled as ‘multiscapideum’ – name. Before the type illustration was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire at CAS, K. Brandegee (Proc. Cal. Acad. 1 (Ser. 2), 128-151. 1883) confirmed this name as a synonym of E. purpurascens S. Waston, a fact overlooked by monographers (cf. Matthew 1992, Applegate 1935, Allen 2001). This leaves only E. taylori, which is presently known extant on Pilot Ridge, at 4400 ft, nearly the same elevation as the Valley. Pilot Peak was partially within Yosemite National Park until a little known boundry adjustment in 1905-1906.

Until an extant occurrence of Erythronium is found in the Valley, we cannot be certain which taxon grew there. However, the stated location, which is essentially along the trail from Happy Isles to Vernal Falls, is so well visited that I can only assume that a very small occurrence was long ago eliminated by visitors picking flowers.