Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Isoëtes howellii Engelmann


Found in vernal pools, Isoëtes howellii is a member of the larger of two clades of Isoëtes found in North America. Larger than any of the other diploid species of found in California, this species is subjected to annual dedication when the pools they grow in dry up.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Viola purpurea Kellogg

Viola purpurea Kellogg
Mountain Violet

A widely distributed species found throughout California, with the exception of the Central Valley, Viola purpurea has a somewhat misleading name, in that the flowers themselves are not obviously purple, but rather, are yellow and accented with purples. This plant is a perennial herb, with its areal, vegetative body emerging from a woody rhizome.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (Engelm. & J. M. Bigelow) F. M. Knuth

Silver Cholla

A common sight out in the Mojave desert, Cylindropuntia echinocarpa can be a hazard to the unwary. Heavily armed with sharp spines, these cacti are none the less quite beautiful.

C. echinocarpa is found throughout the arid zones of the southwest, from California thought Arizona and Utah and down into Baja California.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Arctostaphylos hookeri var. hookeri

Hooker's Manzaneta


A class 1B.2 species, Arctostaphylos hookeri var. hookeri is found along the coast of California in Monterrey County growing in chaparral type habitats.  Like most Arctostaphylos, this species can be hard to identify without a significant amount of experience in keying the group.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cheilanthes covillei Maxon

Coville's Lip Fern

Found growing in the crevices of rocky outcrops, Cheilanthes covillei is found across California. Like most Cheilanthes, C. covillei has densely scaled and hairy leaves. The sporangia are born in a false indusia on the abaxial (bottom) side of the leaf, which is formed by a downward curling of the leaf margin.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vernal pools

As a habitat type, the vernal pool is something particularly special. A vernal pool is formed when a low area develops a hard, impermeable sub-surface layer that allows water to accumulate during the wet season, which in most of California is the winter. What makes vernal pools so special is that they are transient communities, bursting into life during the brief period of water availability, before dying back when the water dries up. This boom and bust cycle leads to short but spectacular displays of flowers when the pools are filled.

Many of the plants found in vernal pools are found nowhere else, making them exceptionally valuable as havens of biodiversity. However, many of the vernal pools are imperiled, due to human activity. Grazing in vernal pool habitat and development both have a serious, negative effect on the pools, from disruption to outright destruction. As such, it is of the utmost importance that the remaining pools are protected as well as studied to ensure that what is left doesn't vanish without a trace.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Linanthus californicus (Hook. & Arn.) J. M. Porter & L. A. Johnson


A perennial, woody member of the Phlox family, Linanthus californicus is found predominantly along the south-western edge of California. These plants are found growing mostly in scrub and forest habitats, but can also occur in chaparral. They are most obvious when in flower, which are open during the day, and are rosy pink to magenta.

The leaf tips of these plants are quite sharp, and, while not fully spines, are pointed enough to be painful if handled.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Corethrogyne filaginifolia (Hook. & Arn.) Nutt.


Corthrogyne filaginifolia is widely distributed species of perennial sub-shrubs found throughout the Coast-Ranges, southern Sierra Nevadas and San Bernardino Mts. These plants are variable across their range, and have been differentially lumped or split into numerous species and subspecies by some authors.

These plants can reach a height of 1/10 to 1 meters tall, with great variability in the number of stems arising from a common base.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Arctostaphylos edmundsii J. Howell

Little Sur Manzaneta

One of the many species of Arctostaphylos endemic to California, A. edmundsii is found along the coastal bluffs of Monterey Co. This plants forms a natural "bonsai" growth shape, growing a twisted, highly contorted trunk and branch system with leaves at the branch tips. The bark of these plants, like many Arctostaphylos, is shed along the younger branches, but retained along the trunk and sub-lateral branches, giving the stem a similar appearance to a cedar tree. Inflorescence development begins in early November, with the flowers actually opening in January.

A. edmundsii is a list 1b.2 species in California, meaning that it is highly limited in distribution and range. Active threats to the species include development of areas where the plants grow, and agriculture. However, conservation efforts are being made by Botanic Gardens to preserve living specimens of the species in their living collections.

Images taken at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, Ca

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Delphinium hansenii (E. Greene) E. Greene ssp. kernense (Davidson) Ewan

Kern larkspur

A member of the buttercup family, Delphinium hansenii  (E. Greene) E. Greene  ssp. kernense  (Davidson) Ewan is a subspecies of Delphinium (commonly called larkspurs), that is restricted to the southern portions of the Sierra Nevada mountains. This subspecies is found in oak woodlands and chaparral towards the western edge of the Mojave desert, though not getting into the desert proper. Often, the best place to locate these plants are seeps and damp areas near the base of rock outcrops.

The flowers of these plants are quite showy, and range from deep blue to pale lavender.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abronia nana S. Watson var. covillei (Heimerl) Munz

Coville's dwarf sand verbina

Found on rocky slopes and sandy soils in southern California and Nevada, this member of Nyctaginaceae, also known as the four-o-clock family, is most noticeable because of its distinctive inflorescence. Found predominantly in pinyon-juniper woodlands and yellow-pine forests, this perennial herb prefers dry soils to those that are overly moist.

These plants are listed as 4.2 on the California Native Plant Society's rare plants list, meaning they are rare in California.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Isoetes bolanderi Engelm.


I. bolanderi in its natural habitat in Box Lake in Rock Creek Valley
Wide spread yet easy to miss, Isoetes bolanderi is part of the ancient lineage of lycopods that I am particularly interested in. I. bolanderi is primarily an aquatic plant, but has been recorded to survive out of water. Difficult to identify, I. bolanderi's most noticiable feature is the tip of its leaf, which abruptly tapers to a narrowed point, as opposed to gradually tapering like most other Isoetes.

I. bolanderi after being removed from the ground and cleaned of soil

I. bolanderi is most often found in alpine lakes and ponds in the Sierra Nevada mountains, extending all the way up into Canada and east through the Rockies. In the northern part of its range, it can co-occur with two other species: Isoetes echinospora, and Isoetes occidentalis.