Field Trips Log
April 2005


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Tuesday, 5 April 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

Hidden Valley Loop: species photographed; Boccone's sand spurrey (Spergularia bocconei), elk thistle (Cirsium scariosum), red maids (Calandrinia ciliata), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor) and blue-eyed grass (Sisyrin-
chium bellum
). Helicopters flying overhead continuously. Very annoying. Tom said they're making a film about the Santa Rosa Plateau.

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Friday, 8 April 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

Vernal Pools Trail: species photographed; balloon clover (Trifolium depauperatum var. truncatum), foothill needlegrass (Nassella lepida), foxtail barley (Hordeum murinum ssp. glaucum), hooked popcorn flower (Plagiobothrys undulatus), purple false-brome (Brachypodium distachyon), purslane speedwell (Veronica peregrina ssp. xalapensis), rattail fescue (Vulpia myuros var. hirsuta), small-flowered lotus (Lotus hamatus), and thread-leaved brodiaea (Brodiaea filifolia).

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Saturday, 9 April 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

Vernal Pools Trail: species photographed; pin-point clover (Trifolium gracilentum var. gracilentum), western toad rush (Juncus bufonius var. occidentalis), splendid mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens), and soft chess (Bromus hordeaceus).

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Sunday, 10 April 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

Vista Grande Trail: new species; blue toadflax (Linaria canadensis var. texana). Other things photographed; johnny-jump-up (Viola pedunculata), tree clover (Trifolium ciliolatum), common fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia) and tomcat clover (Trifolium willdenovii).

Monument Road: species photographed; rattlesnake weed (Chamaesyce albomarginata), but not yet in bloom, darn it! Also Vasey's prickly pear (Opuntia vaseyi) and smooth cat's-ear (Hypochaeris glabra).

Tenaja Truck Trail: species photographed; purple clarkia (Clarkia purpurea ssp. quadrivulnera) and a white-
colored variant of checkerbloom (Sidalcea malviflora ssp. sparsifolia).

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Monday, 11 April 2005 (Ahmanson Ranch)

Went into Ahmanson Ranch by the back door, so to speak, escorted by a friend who knew the route, to photograph the rare and only recently rediscovered San Fernando Valley spineflower (Chorizanthe parryi var. fernandina). Judging by its profusion in this location, one would not think it was rare, but it is a perfect example of plants that are "rare but locally common." This species was presumed to be extinct having last been seen in 1929 at the time it was rediscovered in 1999.

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Tuesday, 12 April 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

Adobe Loop Trail: new species; gambel's dwarf milk-vetch (Astragalus gambelianus), California lotus (Lotus wrangelianus), lakeside ceanothus (Ceanothus cyaneus), tiny bedstraw (Galium murale). I also looked for western lady's mantle (Aphanes occidentalis) and long-leaf plantain (Plantago elongata), but couldn't find them.

Vernal Pools trail to Adobes: nothing new.

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Thursday, 14 April 2005 (Reagan Library)

I visited an area adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley today on the strength of a tip from Jay Sullivan that he had seen growing there white-flowered filaree (Erodium macrophyllum), which aside from the desert heron's bill is our only native Erodium. It was a species that I had seen years ago in Milt McAuley's book and had been keeping an eye out for ever since. There was many blooming species along this one gated road that went off from the Reagan Library entrance road: goldfields (Lasthenia californica), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), catalina mariposa lily (Calochortus catalinae), purple sage (Salvia leucophylla), bush sunflower (Encelia californica), bush mallow (Malacothamnus fasciculatus), purple owl's clover (Castilleja exserta), bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), and many other things. There was deerweed and phacelias and buckwheat and lotuses and mustard evening primrose, all in great profusion. I saw a Trifolium that is still a mystery to me, chaparral gilia (Gilia angelensis), nightshades and cliff asters. I was very excited to see a species that was very familiar to me in its fruiting stage, but here it was in full bloom, blowwives (Achyrachaena mollis), and a cute little flower that I didn't immediately recognize but found out later was small-flowered morning glory (Convolvulus simulans). Also brown microseris (Stebbinsoseris heterocarpa). But of course the prize was the Erodium, which I found many plants of and had about decided that I was not going to find one in bloom, when I stumbled across a patch of them with their beautiful white blossoms wide open. Another long-time goal accomplished.

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Sunday, 17 April 2005 (Lower Mt. Wilson Trail)

The lower section of the Mt. Wilson Trail is in practically full bloom right now with a great many species in bloom and many putting on beautiful displays. Some noteworthy examples are canyon clarkia (Clarkia epilobioides), canterbury bells (Phacelia minor), indian pink (Silene laciniata ssp. major), san bernardino sun cup (Camissonia confusa), stickleaf (Mentzelia micrantha), elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata), coastal lotus (Lotus salsuginosus var. salsuginosus), and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida). Other things noted that were beginning to be in evidence were low canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa ssp. pumila), whispering bells (Emmenanthe penduliflora), california chicory (Rafinesquia californica), woodland stars (Lithophragma affine), western wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum), indian paintbrush (Castilleja affinis), and a single example each of white tidy tips (Layia glandulosa) and the introduced mexican aster (Cosmos bipinnatus). The eucrypta (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia) is still doing nicely, and the pitch trefoil (Bituminaria bituminosa) is just about finished its bloom. Black sage (Salvia mellifera) and short-winged deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. brevialatus) along with south coast morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia var. intermedia) are still in prime condition but the introduced rose clover (Trifolium hirtum) and sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) are about through. I did see small-seeded spurge (Chamaesyce polycarpa) and wishbone bush (Mirabilis californica) still blooming.

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Monday, 18 April 2005 (Santa Rosa Plateau)

This was another visit to the Santa Rosa Plateau to check on the blooming status of certain species and to take photographs of species for which I don't have any pictures from the SRP. I began on the Vernal Pools trail and supplemented my photos of fairy lanterns (Calochortus albus), splendid mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens), purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra), and a few other things. I continued onto the Adobe Loop Trail to do some additional photography on California lotus (Lotus wrangelianus) and Gambel's dwarf milk-vetch (Astragalus gambelianus), and to look for the miniscule western lady's mantle (Aphanes occidentalis), which I had looked for unsuccessfully once before. Tom had told me that on a recent Native Plant Society plant walk he led, even though he knew where this species was, several people were down on hands and knees looking for it. This time he had given me a GPS location for it and some very specific locational landmarks, and armed with pictures of it I had printed out from CalPhotos, I had good luck in finding it quickly. What a strange little plant it is, a 1-stamened member of the Rose family, with what I originally took to be the petals or sepals of a single flower actually being a leaf-like sheathing stipulary structure that subtends an inflorescence consisting of a hypanthium which contains several flowers! And the stipule is radially arranged around the base of the inflorescence except that it has an enlarged, palmately-divided lobe that looks to the eye very much like a leaf. It's definitely not an easy plant to find or to photograph.

My next destination was the South TransPreserve Trail where I looked for and found the real warty spurge (Euphorbia spathulata) that we had originally thought might be the identification of a plant we had seen at an early stage in the percolation pit and at a couple of other moist areas, but which turned out to be hyssop loosestrife (Lythrum hyssopifolia).

Finally, I did some of the Tovashal Trail on the other side of Clinton Keith Road from the Visitor Center, which I had never hiked before and which had only recently been reopened after being closed for work on damaged trails and stream crossings. I was specifically looking for common skullcap (Scutellaria tuberosa) which Kay Madore had reported, and which I had pictures of from elsewhere but not here, and I found a lot of them hiding under the shady edges of chamise bushes along a bare dirt section of the trail. I also saw some nice displays of Pomona locoweed (Astragalus pomonensis), chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), and purple owl's clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta). The last thing I was able to pick up at the Santa Rosa Plateau today was some strigose sun cups (Camissonia strigulosa) which is a species I had not encountered before.

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Thursday-Sunday, 21-24 April 2005 (Jepson Otay Mesa Field Trip)

This was the first of two weekend workshops that I had signed up for with the Jepson Herbarium, and I was very excited about it because it was to an area I had often heard about but had no knowledge of, Otay Mountain and the Otay Mesa vernal pool area. We were scheduled to meet Thursday evening at the Otay Mesa Comfort Suites where we had reserved rooms for the weekend, but I decided to do a bit of botanizing before joining the group and headed over to the Tierra Santa area of San Diego County where I had been on a field trip with Fred Roberts last year. I had no particular expectation of anything new there, and although there were some nice things like fringed spineflower (Chorizanthe fimbriata var. fimbriata), Coulter's lupine (Lupinus sparsiflorus), slender poreleaf (Porophyllum gracile), splendid mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens), violet snapdragon (Antirrhin-
um nuttalianum ssp. nuttallianum
), and two-seeded milk-vetch (Astragalus didymocarpus), on the whole it seemed much drier and more grown up with invasive grasses and mustards than it had been last year. My socks and boots were full of foxtails when I finished and drove toward Otay Mesa.

I had taken too much time to arrive for dinner so stopped at a Denny's. When I got to the Comfort Suites and was checking in, I met my friends John Game and Jeff Greenhouse from Berkeley and Gary Monroe from Nevada, and it was great to see them again. The original plan had been to spend all of Friday in a series of lectures at SDSU, and then go out into the field on Saturday and Sunday. I had assumed that we were to meet there on Friday for an orientation and then proceed out into the field and I was chagrined as were others to learn that they had scheduled an entire day in the classroom. As it turned out, because of a negative weather forecast for Saturday and possibly Sunday, the plan had been changed and we were now scheduled to go up Otay Mountain on Friday.

The Otay Mountain Wilderness area was created in 1999 and has been referred to as "one of California's most exceptional wild places." Jerry Schad describes it in the following terms: "Rising like a rumpled pillow from the eastern extremity of Otay Mesa, Otay Mountain offers unparalleled, integrated views of the bifurcated San Diego-Tijuana metropolis, the Coronado Islands, Point Loma, and San Diego Bay. Seen on a crystal-clear winter morning, the wide-ranging panorama is almost aerial in perspective and must be seen to be believed." (Quoted from a website here.) It is a unique ecosystem with numerous rare plant and animal species, and because of its position near the Mexican border is an active illegal border crossing area, so Border Patrol vehicles and personnel are very much in evidence, something that we confirmed for ourselves later in the day.

At our first stop I was just noticing some golden stars when our trip leader, Scott McMillan, told us it was actually Cleveland's muilla or San Diego golden star (Muilla clevelandii), my first new species of the trip. We had seen a large matilija poppy on the side of the road which Scott had said was Romneya coulteri, but which turned out upon closer examination to be bristly matilija poppy (Romneya trichocalyx). John and Jeff had hoped it was the former because they hadn't seen that species, but I was pleased that it was the latter, which was new for me. The bristly sepals and the narrow width of the leaf lobes were definite identifiers of it as trichocalyx. We worked our way up toward the summit of the mountain, stopping at several locations to see species like chaparral broom-rape (Orobanche bulbosa), Cleveland's bush monkeyflower (Mimulus clevelandii), everlasting neststraw (Stylocline gnaphaloides), yellow-stemmed bush mallow (Malacothamnus densiflorus), many-nerved catchfly (Silene multinervia), southern mountain misery (Chaemabatia australis), San Diego satureja (Satureja chandleri), golden ear-drops (Dicentra chrysantha), Otay manzanita (Arctostaphylos otayensis), peninsular onion (Allium peninsulare var. peninsulare), San Diego county goldeneye (Viguiera laciniata), coville's lipfern (Cheilanthes covillei), and Encinitas baccharis (Baccharis vanessae). Several of these such as the neststraw, the catchfly, the satureja and the baccharis were new to me, and I had never seen southern mountain misery in the wild before. At the very summit, there were a great number of mariposa lilies just beginning to come into bud, and we could not be certain what species they were, but it is likely that they were Dunn's mariposa lily (Calochortus dunnii). This is a species that along with Calochortus superbus and C. concolor is high on my wants list.

As we ascended the mountain we saw a number of Border Patrol vehicles, and late in the afternoon while stopped at a turnout, we heard a sudden roar and an official-looking helicopter popped up from behind a ridge and flew directly over us. Later, as were coming down, we saw several more helicopters flying around the area, and then several Border Patrol vehicles racing up in our direction. They had stopped by the time we drove by, and as we looked back on the downhill (Mexican) side of the ridge, we saw a single Border Patrol agent escorting a number of apparently illegal border crossers up through the chaparral toward the waiting vehicles. Later in the evening we heard on the news that a small experimental aircraft had crashed on Otay Mountain that afternoon, and it had been that and not the few poor illegals that had brought out all the helicopter activity. Contrary to what we had thought the weather was going to be, we had a mixture of everything during the day, sun, wind, rain, overcast, but nothing that kept us from enjoying our time on the mountain.

Somewhere along the way today I realized that I had forgotten to charge my extra digital camera batteries and I was on my last one. I had also foolishly neglected to bring my battery charger with me, so when we got back to the hotel at about 6pm, I jumped in my car and made a 300-mile roundtrip back to Pasadena to get it. I was home for about a half an hour, ate some delicious stew I had made a couple of nights before, talked to my daughter (my wife was at work), played with my dogs, and drove back to Otay Mesa, arriving just before 11pm. Overnight I charged my batteries, and was ready to go the next day.

On Saturday we spent the whole day exploring several different vernal pool areas. Scott has done a great deal of mitigation and restoration work on the vernal pools and was very knowledgeable about their flora. I must say that my mental image of a vernal pool, based on those at the Santa Rosa Plateau, was not borne out at Otay Mesa, because there was essentially no water in any of them, and they all seemed to be very small in dimension, perhaps only 20-40' in diameter for the most part. One of the first things we saw in profuse bloom was the Otay Mesa mint (Pogogyne nudiuscula), which we had to be very careful about not stepping on as we walked through the tall grasses. Some other things we saw were bigbract verbena (Verbena bracteata), flowering quillwort (Liliaea scilloides), common chaffweed (Centunculus minimus), seaside red maids (Calandrinia maritima), mud nama (Nama stenocarpum), prostrate spineflower (Chorizanthe procumbens), pacific saltbush (Atriplex pacifica), smooth boisduvalia (Epilobium pygmaeum), and mint-leaved vervain (Verbena menthifolia).

Sunday morning we headed out to some different vernal pool areas on the mesa, ones which were all gated or fenced off to limit public disturbance. Some of the things we found there were Orcutt's bird's beak (Cordylanthus orcuttianus), golden-spined cerceus (Bergerocactus emoryi), Otay tarweed (Hemizonia conjugens), San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia), small-leaved rose (Rosa minutifolia), spreading navarretia (Navarretia fossalis), and variegated dudleya (Dudleya variegata). By the time we finished after lunch on Sunday, we all felt that we had had a great survey of the flora of a very unique area.

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Saturday, 30 April 2005 (Reagan Ranch and Malibu Creek State Park, Santa Monica Mts)

Today's excursion was just a quick one to check on the bloom status of the California tea (Rupertia physodes) which I have been wanting to confirm the identity of and photograph. It was not blooming yet, but I did some more and better pictures of the black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) that grows along the road leading in to the Ranch headquarters. The other thing I was able to get pictures of was small-flowered fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. menziesii) which I have looked for unsuccessfully several times at the Santa Rosa Plateau recently. I have had suspicions about the legitimacy of the differentiation between Amsinckia menziesii var. intermedia and var. menziesii for some time because it seemed to me that it was just an arbitrary distinction with larger flowers belonging to the former taxon and smaller flowers belonging to the latter taxon, but Tom Chester has informed me of his belief that there apparently are sufficient genetic differences to substantiate such a split.

Before I went to Reagan Ranch, I hiked into Malibu Creek State Park from the Crags Road entrance based on an e-mail from Jay Sullivan who notified me that he had seen what he thought was broad-leaved lupine (Lupinus latifolius var. latifolius) in there. I have seen broad-leaved lupine before but had never bothered to figure out what variant or subspecies I was looking for. This is true of many taxa which I need to investigate beyond the species level. When I became interested in botany and started learning to identify plants, I was content to merely know the species I was seeing, but as my work in the field has grown more intense, knowing the subspecies or variant has become more important. I had seen Lupinus latifolius var. parishii up in the San Bernardinos, and I noticed last year that Raven's Flora of the Santa Monica Mts did not specify a subspecies for the broad-leaved lupine there. I contacted Mr. Carl Wishner who had produced a synonymized checklist of the Santa Monica Mts flora and he said it was unclear to him which taxon it was that was represented there. I have since found out that according to Gibson and Prigge's Revised Flora of the Santa Monica Mts both variants are listed, with two herbarium specimens identified to the species (which could be either taxon) and another specimen identified as var. parishii, but no EIRs or checklists listing either taxon. In any case, I wanted to measure the specimens for myself and take pictures of the plant Jay thought was var. latifolius.

This was one of the prettiest and beflowered trails I had been on so far this spring, with purple clarkia (Clarkia purpurea), farewell-to-spring (Clarkia bottae) and elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) in great numbers, globe gilia (Gilia capitata), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum) everywhere, golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), purple owl's clover (Castilleja exserta), western vervain (Verbena lasiostachys), foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus), golden stars (Bloomeria crocea), miniature lupine (Lupinus bicolor), purple nightshade (Solanum xanti), California chicory (Rafinesquia californica), chaparral gilia (Gilia angelensis) and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria) providing major splashes of color along the trail. Up ahead I saw some morning glories and almost didn't look closely at it, but it turned out to be a species of morning glory that was obviously different from anything I had ever seen before, woolly morning glory (Calystegia malacophylla ssp. pedicellata), the entire plant very short-stemmed, mostly prostrate and absolutely covered in a dense white-woolly pubescence.

I continued on to the junction of Crags Road and Bulldog Road, noting sticky madia (Madia gracilis), woolly blue curls (Trichostema lanatum), slender cottonweed (Micropus californicus), smooth cat's ear (Hypochaeris glabra), both blue and spreading larkspur (Delphinium parryi and D. patens) black sage (Salvia mellifera) and silver puffs (Uropappus lindleyi), and soon after heading up Bulldog Road toward where Jay had said the lupine was, I saw a few small yellow blooms that looked madia-like. I didn't know what it could be and it was only later that I realized that it was another new species for me, common hareleaf (Lagophylla ramosissima ssp. ramosissima), which I had seen many times in Milt McAuley's book and wondered about. The plants were only about 6"-8" tall with soft-hairy leaves. Farther on there was fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii), chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), prickly phlox (Leptodactylon californicum), crimson pitcher sage (Salvia spathacea), fairy lanterns (Calochortus albus), yellow pincushions (Chaenactis glabriuscula), Catalina mariposa lilies (Calochortus catalinae), fiesta flowers (Pholistoma auritum), rock phacelia (Phacelia egena), canyon sunflowers (Venegasia carpesioides) and wild roses (Rosa californica), which along with the many butterflies produced a display of color that was stunning.

I finally arrived at the location of the lupine in question and began measuring. The key discriminant in Jepson between these two variants is that the flowers for parishii are 13-18 mm and for latifolius are 8-14 mm. This is not an entirely satisfactory discriminant obviously because 13-14 mm could be either taxon, but most of my measurements were around 11 mm. The stems were also glabrous, so I concurred with Jay's assessment that these were var. latifolius, and I added pictures of them to my collection. I headed back, turning right again on Crags Road and walking toward the MASH site to see if anything else showed up. There was nothing new along that section of trail however until I got to the MASH site, and I was just in the process of photographing the California milkweed (Asclepias californica) which I had known was there, when who should show up by Jay himself! He had also come to take pictures of the milkweed. He headed back up Bulldog Road and I left to go to Reagan Ranch.