Field Trips Log
June 2006

Sunday, 4 June 2006 (Heaps Peak Arboretum, San Bernardino Mts)

Having looked for mountain dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) several times before but never at quite the right time, I was eager to find it in bloom and drove up the mountain to Heaps Peak Arboretum near Lake Arrowhead. This is one of the places I had seen it before along with Kuffel Canyon Road which goes from the Rim of the World Highway (Rt. 18) to the lake. I drove down Kuffel Cyn Road and saw many dogwoods in bloom. It's not easy to find places to park along there, but I managed it and got some photographs of some of the dogwoods right next to the road. Many of them were again just barely passed the best stage of their bloom. Dogwoods are a particular favorite of mine since my wife and I moved to California from Virginia, and the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is the state flower of Virginia. I was immediately intrigued when I became interested in the flora of California to learn that there were several native dogwoods here. There is what we call the American dogwood (Cornus sericea), our most common dogwood, the mountain dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) and the brown dogwood (Cornus glabrata), which I haven't seen yet. I headed further along the highway to the Arboretum where I hoped they might be in a little better shape.

As I was standing out in front of the Arboretum with my Jepson Manual, a fellow came over and we started talking. It turned out that he was Bob Reed, the curator of the Arboretum and a colleague and friend of my friend Gina Richmond, with whom I took a bunch of botany classes at Rancho Santa Ana. It was very nice to meet him and compare notes on different species. He gave me a heads up on some of the things that were blooming, told me that Gina was working down the road aways, and I bought a copy of the first edition of his book on San Bernardino wildflowers. He told me that he was re-doing much of the photography and hoped to have a better edition out soon. I told him I would let him know about anything interesting that I saw and he promised to do the same. Since then we have exchanged several e-mails and he has put me on to the location of at least one beautiful flower that I doubt I would have found on my own, Nama rothrockii.

The Arboretum was extensively damaged by the fires of a couple of years ago, but it is in excellent shape now, with a new bathroom near the trailhead and the trail itself reworked so that it can even be accessed by a person in a wheelchair. There is some lovely planting at the entrance, deerbrush (Ceanothus integerrimus), California false-
indigo (Amorpha californica var. californica), foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus var. australis), mountain sticky cinquefoil (Potentilla glandulosa ssp. reflexa), spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemi-
) and showy penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis). I began walking around the trail and immediately saw a beautiful display of Hartweg's iris (Iris hartwegii ssp. australis) and baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii var. integrifolia), the variant with whitish-colored flowers. Other things I saw in bloom were American vetch (Vicia americana var. americana), beautiful rock-cress (Arabis pulchra var. pulchra), broad-leaved lotus (Lotus crassifolius var. crassifolius), Child's collinsia (Collinsia childii) which was a new species for me, common madia (Madia elegans), Davidson's phacelia (Phacelia davidsonii), large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora), spreading larkspur (Delphinium patens), western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum ssp. capitatum), whiskerbrush (Linanthus ciliatus), winter cress (Barbarea orthoceras) and woodland stars (Lithophragma affine). I also saw a white-blooming lupine that I'm pretty sure was L. andersonii, and another much shrubbier species that I wasn't sure of. I got to the mountain dogwood and found that some of the trees were in prime condition, which pleased me greatly. I also saw quite a number of the white-flowered form of plain Mariposa lily (Calochortus invenustus) popping up in the woods. Somewhere around the trail, Gina showed up and it was nice to see her again.

Saturday, 17 June 2006 (Santa Ana River Wash, Redlands)

This was my first attempt to find the rare and endangered Santa Ana River woollystar (Eriastrum densifolium ssp. sanctorum). I had seen this species once before with Lorrae Fuentes on a Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden field trip, but could not remember where the location was. I asked my friend Gina Richmond who has been working with Oscar Clarke on a book about the flora of the Santa Ana River, and she sent me the e-mail address of Greg Ballmer, who she said knew where to look for it. I contacted him and he told me precisely where to go. This is about the right blooming period for it so I drove out to an area near Redlands where the river goes approximately east-west. Unfortunately the street across the wash there was closed on the south side, so I drove around to the north side and the street was closed there too. I got as close as I could and parked, walking the rest of the way on foot through low scrubby vegetation and cactus. Within a few minutes I saw a blue Eriastrum and I got all excited. Soon there was lots of it, and not having a good mental picture of ssp. sanctorum, took this to be what I was looking for. There were also Stephanomerias blooming, and a lot of sweetbush (Bebbia juncea) which is a species more typically found in desert areas. Perhaps I should have recognized the Eriastrum as an annual which would have eliminated densifolium ssp. sanctorum as a possibility, but I didn't. The annual/perennial couplet in the keys is the one I hate the most. In any event, I later realized that it was actually the annual sapphire woolstar (Eriastrum sapphirinum) which is also in that wash area, and I knew I would have to get some further locational information and come back on another day. It is frequently the case that it takes at least two attempts to find some of these species. Sometimes the directions I get from people don't make complete sense to me until I'm actually in the area, and then I can ask follow-up questions which are more specific. So people should definitely not be discouraged by a failure of the first attempt.

Sunday, 18 June 2006 (Baldy Notch, San Gabriel Mts)

Today Miriam and I took the chairlift up to Baldy Notch in search of a phacelia that Jane Strong saw recently, southern mountain phacelia (Phacelia austromontana). We had to walk down the road from Desert View toward Stockton Flats, a road which I had never been on before. Around the Notch area itself was a profuse bloom of bird's foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and I was able to point out to Miriam a lovely clump of bright red snowplants (Sarcodes sanguinea) growing under a pine tree. Jane had said that we only had to go about a half-
mile down the road to the first drainage, and along the way we saw a lot of fuchsia although not in bloom, and some beautiful clasping-leaved caulanthus (Caulanthus amplexicaulis var. amplexicaulis) with its deep purple flowers. When we got to the drainage, we began searching for the phacelia. Jane had said it was very small and that there were only about three plants. Miriam was the first one to spot it, partly hiding under the edge of a log. They were only about 3 cm tall and I'm amazed that Jane was able to notice them, but then she has amazing abilities. This is a species that ranges from the central Sierra Nevadas and White-Inyo Mts to the Transverse Range and San Jacinto Mts. I don't know how common it is but given its small size is probably often overlooked. This was the first time Miriam had been up on the chairlift and she thoroughly enjoyed it.

Wednesday, 21 June 2006 (Santa Ana River Wash and Heaps Peak Arboretum, San Bernardino Mts)

This was my second attempt to find the Santa Ana River woollystar, and Greg Ballmer was kind enough to e-mail me all the way from Thailand with further locations! I drove to an area a bit further east along the wash, parked at the end of a road, and hiked about a mile into the wash itself. Once I was in the wash, it only took me about ten minutes to spot the first Eriastrum, and it was immediately evident how different it was from the sapphire woolstar I had seen a few days ago. Densifolium is a perennial species, much larger and more robust, and ssp. sanctorum has very large, especially beautiful flowers. As mentioned before, this is an endangered species, but in this one particular location it is very happy. Gravelly river beds is the habitat the Jepson Manual gives for it, and it is quite amazing to be in a dry, stony area and find these lush and robust plants popping up above the sandy soil.

After leaving the wash, I drove up to the Heaps Peak Arboretum to have another look at the shrubby lupine I had seen last time. Bob had told me in an e-mail that he thought it was meadow lupine (L. polyphyllus), and that it was now blooming. I had never seen polyphyllus before and was eager to add it to my website, but I suspected that it might also be the large-leaved Parish's lupine (L. latifolius var. parishii) that is seen fairly commonly in moist areas of the San Bernardinos. On this visit I found a mass of diamond-petalled clarkias (Clarkia rhomboidea), Laguna Mountains jewelflower (Streptanthus bernardinus), little spring beauty (Claytonia exigua ssp. exigua), musk monkeyflower (Mimulus moschatus), and streambank lotus (Lotus oblongifolius var. oblongifolius). I also was able to give Bob an identification of the yellow-flowered sunflower-like species that was quite in evidence in several places. It was woolly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum var. obovatum) and had all appeared just since the last time I was there. I collected a sample of the large shrubby lupine and headed home.

NOTE: The Streptanthus I initially identified as Caulanthus major var. major because at that time I was not aware of ever having seen Streptanthus, but I got that straightened out as a result of hiking the Devils Slide Trail with Tom, and learning the difference between the leaves of the two species. Also, when I got home and keyed out my sample of the lupine, it did turn out to be Parish's lupine, so I will have to keep looking for meadow lupine.

Saturday, 24 June 2006 (Palomar Mountain State Park)

Richard Sapiro and I drove up to Palomar Mountain State Park today to look for a few things and hike into a couple of the areas of the park that we had never been in before. We began on the Weir/Lower Doane Valley trail and almost immediately found the introduced wall bedstraw (Galium parisiense) that I had looked for before unsuccessfully at the Santa Rosa Plateau. Mountain sweet-cicely (Osmorhiza chilensis) was our next goal and we found a single grouping of leaves right where Tom had them on his plant guide. This was one of these situations where you photograph something the first time you see it and it's not very impressive but you don't realize that just up the trail are literally masses of it in much better shape. The bloom unfortunately was over, but at least now I know that I can come back a bit earlier next year and photograph it again.

The first part of this trail is through some lovely woods with lots of "berry" bushes like wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca), western raspberry (Rubus leucodermis), thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), Utah serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis), California blackberry (Rubus ursinus) and mountain pink currant (Ribes nevadense), and some other interesting and fairly uncommon things like burning bush (Euonymus occidentalis var. parishii), woolly angelica (Angelica tomentosa), hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula var. vacillans), and the white-
flowered Palmer's ceanothus (Ceanothus palmeri). Eventually you begin glimpsing a meadow off to the right and soon the trail is paralleling the edge of the meadow. These meadows in the park are very unusual because you don't find too many such features in Southern California, and they are really beautiful and the result of the 40" of rain that Palomar Mountain gets each year. Soon, bracken fern (Pteridium acquilinum var. pubescens) is lining the trail and you see mats of Sierra Nevada lotus (Lotus nevadensis var. nevadensis), whiskerbrush (Linanthus ciliatus), mustang mint (Monardella lanceolata) and yarrow.

We crossed Doane Creek (pronounced "doe-n" not "do-ayne" as I originally thought) and crossed an open section of meadow to the junction of the French Valley trail loop that parallels the Doane Valley Natural Preserve. As we got farther back into this valley, I was overcome by its incredible beauty and peacefulness, and I was just intensely grateful that places like this existed and had been preserved. The meadow was covered in grasses and there were many little flowers showing spots of color, among which were Cleveland's horkelia (Horkelia clevelandii), the yellow form of common linanthus (Linanthus parviflorus) and Heermann's lotus (Lotus heermannii var. heermannii). I pointed out some Mexican rush (Juncus mexicanus) to Richard and showed him what Tom had demonstrated to me about how you can grip the stems with your fingers and slide them up causing the stems to rotate. At the upper end of the trail, it approaches a creek area and suddenly there were large shrubs covered with the most amazing display of white flowers. They were western azaleas (Rhododendron occidentale) and they made the few individuals down by the Weir look sick by comparison.

Upon our return we joined the Lower Doane Trail again. I wanted to show Richard the spotted coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata) that Miriam and I had found on our recent hike in here. When we had been here on the way to San Diego to celebrate my birthday, we had only found a few plants. This time, in searching for the one plant we had seen before that was in good shape, we found probably upwards of 50 individual plants, but most of them were past their best blooms. Still, it gave Richard a good idea of what they looked like. We also found a bunch of the royal rein orchids (Piperia transversa) although they were just beginning to bloom. Some of the orchids were growing immediately adjacent to coralroots, and it's curious that these two species should so prefer this one particular area under oaks.

Next we started out on the trail that goes around the Upper Doane Valley, which I had never been on either. On one side of the valley the trail is in the woods. It seemed quite different from the other trails. All along the edge of the meadow where Doane Creek flows there was a solid mass of corn lilies (Veratrum californicum var. californicum) that a month from now willbe in full bloom, and under the pines we saw what I think was Child's collinsia (Collinsia childii). The trail comes out of the woods and goes through a small meadow where we saw a lot of large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora). Where the trail cuts across the creek, there was more western raspberry and roundleaf leather root (Hoita orbicularis), and coming back on the other side of the meadow we saw lesser indian paintbrush (Castilleja minor ssp. spiralis) and robust vervain (Verbena lasiostachys var. scabrida). I know there were other things we noticed but I just can't think of them right now.

Thursday, 29 June 2006 (Whitewater Canyon and Devils Slide Trail, San Jacinto Mts)

Our excursion today began in Whitewater Canyon where I had been informed by Greg Ballmer that there was a likelihood of finding a species I had been looking for for years, catchfly gentian (Eustoma exaltatum). We drove up Whitewater Canyon Road looking for a moist area in an otherwise dry desert terrain, an area I had been assured we would recognize immediately. And so we did. There was water actually running along the side of the road from a spring, and even from the car I saw scarlet monkeyflowers and cat-tails. We quickly pulled over and began inspecting the roadside vegetation. The first thing we saw was the introduced pulicaria (Pulicaria paludosa) which I had only ever seen before in Upper Newport Bay. Then I spotted a little monkeyflower that looked different to me and I just couldn't place it. Later I keyed out a sample of it and it turned out to be an unexpected new species for me, Parish's monkeyflower (Mimulus parishii), which is an uncommon species of wet, sandy streamsides in the western desert regions. Then Richard spotted the first gentian and we began celebrating because not only is it an incredibly beautiful flower, but there was an amazing display of it on both sides of the road. We were certainly off to a good start for the day with two new species.

Having seen a number of species on Tom Chester's list for the Devils Slide Trail that typically bloom from June to August, and not being very familiar with the flora of the San Jacinto Mountains, I had decided that this would be an opportune time to try out this location. The trailhead is in Humber Park, a few miles north of the ranger station in Idyllwild, where you have to stop to get a wilderness hiking permit. The permits are free and are not usually a problem on weekdays, but might be difficult to obtain if you get there late on a weekend because they are limited. And don't neglect this responsibility because there are volunteer rangers on the trail and more often than not your permit will be checked.

Even though it was hot down below, it was refreshingly cool in the upper pine forests, although the flying insects were annoying. The trail begins at an elevation of 6,440' and ascends in 2.5 miles to Saddle Junction at 8,075', passing on the way a number of drainages that depending on the time of year and what kind of year it has been might or might not be moist. It quickly became apparent to us why this is one of Tom's favorite and most-visited trails, not terribly steep, good trail surface, much of it shaded, and with many interesting plants.

We began meandering up the trail amidst a host of conifers like white firs, incense-cedars and jeffrey, coulter and sugar pines, and broadleaf trees such as black oaks, canyon live oaks and interior live oaks. Other large shrubs along the trail include the mountain whitethorn, two different manzanita species (pink-bracted and greenleaf), bush chinquapin, western azalea, and Fremont's silktassel. There were masses of large-flowered lotus (Lotus grandiflorus var. grandiflorus) mostly in fruit and prostrate mats of Sierra Nevada lotus (Lotus nevadensis var. nevadensis) with its multi-flowered inflorescences distinguishing it from var. davidsonii in the San Gabriels. We saw some Indian milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa) and southern honeysuckle (Lonicera subspicata var. denudata) but we were looking for the first examples of a buckwheat I had never seen, San Jacinto buckwheat (Eriogonum apiculatum), which I had looked for once before unsuccessfully in the Laguna Mts. Right where Tom had it listed on his guide, we found some buckwheats with no blooms. The leaves looked very much like naked buckwheat to me, but then I didn't know what to look for. Beaked penstemon (Penstemon rostriflorus) was very much in evidence with its beautiful scarlet blossoms, and then after a couple of switchbacks we came to what Tom had on his list as Arabis sp.? Evidently he had not seen it in bloom as it was now, and looking at the flowers I decided that it was Caulanthus major. I took some pictures of it to forward to him, and we continued on to the first moist drainage on the trail. More about this plant in a subsequent report.

Someone had e-mailed Tom about a fern she had seen on this trail that she thought was either Cystopteris fragilis or a Woodsia, and since I had never seen either we looked carefully at the first seep where she thought she had seen it. Although we found a couple of other things I was looking for, the rather small brown-headed rush (Juncus phaeocephalus var. paniculatus) and pinegrove groundsmoke (Gayophytum oligospermum), we saw no sign of any ferns. There were two tiny yellow monkeyflowers within inches of each other that were clearly different and that turned out to be downy monkeyflower (Mimulus pilosus) and many-flowered monkeyflower (Mimulus floribundus), and climbing up the drainage above the trail I observed masses of scarlet monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis), Cleveland's horkelia (Horkelia clevelandii) and columbine (Aquilegia formosa). Attracted to the water were lots of butterflies, the lovely California sisters which were not unexpected, but the real surprise was the relatively uncommon California tortoiseshell in great abundance. California figworts (Scrophularia californica var. floribunda) were in full bloom at this same location as well as the first large groupings of Grinnell's penstemon (Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii), one of the most abundant flowering shrubs on the trail.

Sierra gooseberries (Ribes roezlii var. roezlii) were past their bloom which was disappointing but not surprising given the lateness of the season, but then we started seeing small clumps of the interesting Parish's bedstraw (Galium parishii). Richard pointed out a silktassel of which there are several species which I have not seen that much in the wild, but this turned out to be a species I had never seen anywhere, Fremont's silktassel (Garrya fremontii), a resident of the Peninsular Range. We began passing masses of large bracken ferns (Pteridium acquilinum var. pubescens), mountain prickly phlox (Leptodactylon pungens), and western wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum ssp. capitatum). At another seepy area, we saw another larger yellow monkeyflower which I was unsure of but which was probably M. tilingii or M. moschatus. Just beyond the drainage we found the first of another species new to me called changeable phacelia (Phacelia mutabilis), a biennial or short-lived perennial apparently restricted in Southern California at least to the San Jacintos but more common in the Sierras and north.

We continued switchbacking up the trail, meeting a ranger who checked our permits and told us about a rattle-
snake he had just passed on the way down. He called it a black diamondback which Richard and I found very pecular because we had never heard of such a species. When we found it, it was curled up under a rock with its rattle prominantly displayed and indeed it was black in color. Later when I checked my western reptiles book, I was unable to find any picture that looked like it. We had entered a bouldery area with some different flora like Parish's campion (Silene parishii), shaggy hawkweed (Hieracium horridum), Watson's spike-moss (Selaginella watsonii), and rock buckwheat (Eriogonum saxatile). At each of several moist drainages we had searched for the elusive fern but had been unable to locate it. But at the next one, I did find a fern that I might have taken at first to be a Dryopteris, but which looked like some of the pictures of Cystopteris I had found online. Even though this was well past the location that we were given for it, I came to the conclusion that it just might be the brittle fern (C. fragilis) we were eager to find, but I knew I would have to wait for Tom's confirmation. In this same area we found a different-looking variant of branching phacelia (Phacelia ramosissima var. ramosissima) and a very robust California cliff-brake (Pellaea mucronata var. californica) nestled in a rocky crevice above the trail.

As we approached Saddle Junction, we saw some San Jacinto Mountains keckiella (Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis) which even though not blooming Richard was able to recognize having seen it on the trail to San Jacinto Peak. Later I found a much larger grouping of it with a single bloom (it was early for it) so was able to get a picture of the beautiful flower. Three things I had missed were perennial rock-cress (Arabis perennans), little prince's pine (Chimaphila menziesii) and the San Jacinto buckwheat, but all in all we considered that we had done very well.

From Saddle Junction, trails go off in all directions. A segment of the Pacific Crest Trail heads north toward San Jacinto Peak and Round Valley and is the trail that goes off to the left. The Willow Creek Trail goes straight ahead from the junction and after passing Skunk Cabbage Meadows heads to Long Valley and the top of the Aerial Tramway. To the right are two trails, the lefthandmost of which is marked Tahquitz Valley and proceeds in a southeast direction to Laws and Caramba Camps, and the other marked Tahquitz Peak which is another segment of the Pacific Crest Trail goes south to Chinquapin Flats Junction and Tahquitz Peak, and connects with the South Ridge Trail that goes back down to the Idyllwild area. This is probably one of the nicest hiking locations in Southern California because of the great number of different hikes, both out and back, and loops that are available.

We went a short ways along the trail to Tahquitz Peak, trying unsuccessfully as it turned out, to find San Jacinto buckwheat, but seeing many changeable phacelias and the lovely, delicate San Jacinto lupine (Lupinus hyacinthinus), a species I had never seen before. Another perennial Tom had seen in this area although somewhat later in the year was beautiful hulsea (Hulsea vestita ssp. callicarpha) which I was eager to add to the three other subspecies of Hulsea vestita I had seen, but regrettably there was none to be found today, and after having a bite to eat, we somewhat reluctantly called an end to the day and headed back down the trail.

NOTE: For further information on the species of the rattlesnake, see the field trip log report for 10 July 2006.