Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bolander's Woodreed - flowers at age 3

Cinna bolanderi is a narrow endemic of the central Sierra Nevada, being limited to Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and vicinity.  Most known occurrences are in mid-elevation meadows, most often in forests dominated by Giant Sequoia (Sequoidendron giganteum).

The type locality of Cinna bolanderi is the Mariposa Grove, in Yosemite.  Until 2010, Cinna bolanderi had not been seen there since 1866.  In 2010, I surveyed the Mariposa Grove and found Cinna bolanderi moderately abundant in the ‘stringer’ meadow in the upper, central portion of the Grove.

Inflorescences of Cinna bolanderi with ripe seed were collected Tuesday, September 21, 2010 (my specimen #21060, YM- YOSE23260).  That fall, a portion of that seed was planted outdoors, and germinated readily by Thanksgiving.  Subsequent growth was maintained by irrigation as a container plant during the 2011 and 2012 growing seasons.

Now, at 3 yr old, the plants have flowered for the first time (the photo is of plants in cultivation)

Cinna bolanderi is sufficiently rare (CNPS List 1B.2) that it merits monitoring for trend and condition, particularly in sites on public lands subject to grazing.  Potential habitat on the Sierra National Forest and Sequoia National Forest ought to be surveyed for new occurrences of Cinna bolanderi.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What is the Eriogonum Subg. Oligogonum on Bonanza King, Trinity Mountains, Trinity County, CA?

The prostrate, small mat buckwheat that grows on the summit of Bonanza King Trinity County does not key clearly to any known taxon.  These plants are Subg. Oligogonum exactly: low spreading plants with stipe-like perianth bases.  The plants we collected are female-sterile: at both sites where specimens were obtained, the flowers have only stamens.  This would indicate that possibly this species is gamodioecious, and perhaps we did not seek out plants with perfect flowers.  The olive-green, glabrate upper leaf surface of the Bonanza King plants are is similar to E. marifolium: that species has very obvious morphologically different males and females which could easily pass for different species.  The Bonanza King plants have an extremely congested inflorescence: the involucres are subtended by very  rudimentary (ca. 1 mm long) inflorescence branches, resulting in the inflorescence appearing as a single head.   The Bonanza King plants have a whorl of bracts that immediately subtend the inflorescence, and they lack a mid-scape bract whorl.  Immediate subtention in this instance suggests a evolutionary pathway where a secondary involucre becomes adaptive, with inflorescence branches mal-adaptive.

The Bonanza King plants might pass as a race of the highly polymorphic Eriogonum umbellatum (at 41 treated variants, the most racially complex North American endemic taxon, just beyond Astragalus lentigenosus with ±34 infrataxa, and Lepidium montanum with ±22  infrataxa).   What a field excursion it would be to chase down these “dirty 97”: an Amazing Race requiring a hand lens and 25,000 miles of travel.

The Klamath Mountain region is home to several rare, endemic taxa of Subg. Oligogonum: E. diclinum, E. ursinum, E. libertinii, E. congdonii, E. ternatum, E. hirtellum, E. kelloggii, E. alpinum  Adding E. nervulosum of the high North Coast Ranges, this region is a definite knot of Oligogonum-isms. The buckwheats on Bonanza King might be yet another novel taxon in this complex.

Plants are wierd: any field trip that you return home from with a plant you can not put a definite name on is worth gas at $10 a gallon!

The single specimen of a buckwheat from Bonanza King, CHSC105754, labeled as E. alpinum is very probably E. lobbii, which has characteristic inflorescences which orient directly at the ground surface, and which we saw, not-yet in flower on, Bonanza King in a snowbed site in the lee of the peak.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The type specimen of the California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica was first collected at San Francisco in 1816 (Beidelman 2006, p. 51.).  The taxon was established in Horae Physicae Berolinenses 74–75, pl. 15. 1820, Edited by Christianus Godof. Nees von Esenbeck.

The attached image is a jepg converted from the pdf illustration that is part of the protologue: the painting is credited to Fredrich Guimpel by Beidelmann (2006).  The type specimen was collected by
Adalbertus de Chamisso (also known as Ludolf Karl Adelbert von Chamisso, 1781-1838) and Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz (1983-1831).

The attribution in the protologue reads: Habitat in arenis sterilibis siccs ad portum Sancti Francisci Californiae.  Nunc, semine adlato, in hortis nostris, favente coelo, hospitabitus, 

which I roughly translate to

Lives in dry, sterile sand at the port of St. Francisco of California.  Now, from seed, grown in our gardens, the darling of heaven, very hospitable.

The holotype is ought to reside in the herbarium of the V. L. Komarov Botanical Institute, Saint Petersburg, Russia (LE).  The herbarium website does not show a types catalog as of this writing.  A related page “http://www.botguide.spb.ru/eng/herbarium_collections13.html” exhibits two thumb-nails images of Chamisso specimens.    At some point, hopefully, an image of the actual holotype may become posted.  In the meantime, the image serves as a proxy for the type.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Best Madrono paper ever!!

The centenary of the California Botanical Society is upon us.  100 years of Madrono.  During the banquet this year, the question was offered – what is the  “BEST” paper in Madrono.  I offer the citation: Madrono 25 (2) 111. [1978] - Review of Barneby, R. 1977.  Dalea Imagines.  Mem. New York Botanical Garden 27:1-892.  In that era, I would help the editor of Madrono, Barbara Webster and Grady Webster, with tasks (mail, xeroxing) needed to manage the journal.  It is therefore my opinion that paper that ought to be seen as “best Madrono paper” is a book review, which I plagiarize liberally here.   Once in a great while editors ought to borrow from this example and place within their “white space” such ephemora et memoria.

Sage BARNEBY, who's had his share of fame,
With this new work may greener laurels claim;
We've seen some monographs of equal length,
But few that mix such elegance with strength;
So often merit's antonym to size
That epic length we're tempted to despise
(Thus STANDLEY wrote, with great facility,
Long works of flawed reliability,
And RYDBERG, who penned much with firm decision,
Was cursed, like SMALL, with brash pedantic vision).
So now we're grateful for this splendid book
Which justifies the decade Rupert took;
Amorpheae, as Barneby defines,
Includes eight genera in its confines;
We're startled that the Dalea we knew
Was not erected by A. L. JUSSIEU
(But after all, we got into this bind
Because the great LINNAEUS changed his mind) ;
From Dalea two taxa are set free:
To Psorothomnus goes the fair Smoke Tree,
Marina comes back from obscurity;
The prairie clovers (Petalostemon)
Regain their petals - but their rank has gone.
The species groups are many and compound
But their new circumscriptions look quite sound;
We find that the descriptions and the keys
Are well designed, and can be used with ease.
The many illustrations set this book apart
Through exquisite detail of patient art:
The author's pencil draws each plant's Gestalt
As BAUER might have done, without a fault;
These species portraits, polished and unique
(Though one regrettably is forced to seek
Each picture far removed from its own text),
Have captions discursive and multiplex.
Although it would have made the book more weighty,
We miss the maps and indexed exsiccatae;
Still, these are but inconsequential flaws
Which need not damp our chorus of applause:
For Barneby, with flair and art precise,
Has wrought a masterpiece of awesome price;
This noble guidebook to the Daleae
Will find botanic immortality.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Herbivore caused mortality in the rare Lewisia kelloggii (Montiaceae)

Lewisia kelloggii is endemic to California.  Populations are limited to the mountains: the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Mountains, and Klamath Ranges.  Lewisia kelloggii regardless of subspecies is a Forest Sensitive Plant for California National Forests.

Having made this observation many decades ago, and recently seen it again, I here describe mortality in the rare plant Lewisia kelloggii caused by herbivory.   Summarizing, the starchy roots of Lewisia kelloggii are excavated by animals seeking sustenance, resulting in mortality of the Lewisia.

NDDB draft EO#63 (Peddler Hill, Amador County)
Years ago, I observed golden-mantled ground squirrel (Callospermophilus lateralis) excavate and carry away roots of a population of Lewisia kelloggii.  Oh that’s cool...at the time I did not think what the particular significance of this observation might be.

NDDB draft EO#68 (vicinity Hull Creek, Tuolumne County, 30 May 2013)
I observed the same excavations at one subpopulation of L. kelloggiii.  About 90% of the plants in one subpopulation segment had been excavated, the roots consumed, and the dead rosettes were scattered about on the ground.  Most of the remaining plants were non-flowering, presumable juvenile plants. [top photo).  Many corporeal remains of Lewisia were observed here, many left in their graves, some remains were blown away for a few feet.  

NDDB draft EO#84 (vicinity Sentinel Dome, Mariposa County, 30 May 2013)
On the order of 20% or so of the occurrence was subject to herbivory.  The attached photo shows excavations, with dead or dying plants of L. kelloggii. [bottom photo].  Again, clearly, rodents were excavating plants seeking out the roots for food.


The observed pattern of rarity of L. kelloggii – widely dispersed but nowhere common – may be directly a function of herbivore modulation of population success.  Factors related to trophic cascades governing the abundance of squirrels and their raptor predators may thus play a significant role in the endangerment status of L. kelloggii.  Land management elements which affect this trophic cascade therefore are of interest given the Forest Sensitive status of L. kelloggii.