Field Trips Log
May 2005

Sunday and Sunday, 1 and 8 May 2005 (Lower Mt. Wilson Trail, San Gabriel Mts)

Both of these hikes were mainly for the purpose of seeing if there were any new species to add to Tom Chester's plant guide for this trail (which only extends as far as First Waters right now) and pinning down the identifications of a few species that were seen before. The only things which were new for me were the San Bernardino sun cup (Camissonia confusa) and low canyon dudleya (Dudleya cymosa ssp. pumila).

Friday, 6 May 2005 (Hahamongna Watershed Park, Altadena)

I was last in Hahamongna Park in September of 2004 and my goal then was the same as it was today, cottonthorn (Tetradymia comosa). I was hoping to find it finally in bloom even though it was still a bit early for it. However, many things have been blooming early this year because of all the rain we have had, so I thought it worth the attempt. The parking area for this small park is at the corner of Windsor Ave. and Ventura St. and from there you walk a short distance north and past a gate. Don't walk down the road on the left as that leads to JPL.

There were numerous things in profuse bloom today such as bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), common deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. scoparius), caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida), white sage (Salvia apiana), and of course the cottonthorn. At first I thought I was too early because I didn't immediately see any flowers, but then I found a large shrub that was beginning to bloom and so I was at long last able to get some pictures. Probably a few weeks from now, these shrubs will be covered in blossoms.

After getting the pictures I wanted, I walked down the road that eventually leads up into the Arroyo to Oakwilde, Switzer Trail Camp and Red Box junction. This was a hike I had done in the opposite direction, from Switzer to JPL, with my daughter's class from Sequoyah School when she was in the 6th grade. It is a 10-mile hike, and even though it's mostly downhill, still I was proud that the kids made it. On the hillside above the road was the most spectacular display of elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) I have ever seen, including many flowers that were pure white. This outing was a perfect example of what many of my excursions are like nowadays, to a location where I know there is a specific plant that I want to see and photograph.

Saturday, 7 May 2005 (Fish Canyon, Azusa)

My goal today was to search for the elusive (to me) Plummer's mariposa lily (Calochortus plummerae), and my intent was to look for it in the only place I had ever seen it before, Fish Canyon. Hiking into Fish Canyon since the advent of the huge Vulcan quarry has become a problematic thing, the access to the old trail to the Falls having been cut off, and the alternative being a rough trail over Van Tassel Ridge. Dan Simpson describes this trail in the following manner: "...this route turns a pleasant 5-mile round trip hike with only 900 feet of elevation gain into an 8.5-mile hike with 3200 feet of elevation gain! And the trail over Van Tassel Ridge is poorly designed, narrow, steep, rough, and overgrown." And he further says, without exaggeration, that "This is an an absolutely ridiculous option for accessing Fish Canyon and is only for diehard adventurers who are willing to endure the absurd." This from his excellent hiking website Dan's Hiking Pages.

Being a diehard adventurer, having proved my willingness to endure the absurd, and knowing of no other way to get into Fish Canyon, I started up the trail early this morning. It had just rained, briefly but sufficiently to get all the vegetation dripping wet. Since the trail is totally overgrown (and in fact hard to see in places), I was soaked within the first few hundred yards. I beat my way up the trail, trying to keep my waistpack dry, then giving up on that and just trying to keep my camera dry, constantly pushing my way through shoulder-high mustards, grasses and other things. Some plants that were blooming nicely were California thistle (Cirsium occidentale var. californicum), short-winged deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. brevialatus), common sunflower (Helianthus annuus), blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum), mustard or California evening primrose (Camissonia californica), eucrypta (Eucrypta chrysanthemifolia), golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertiflorum), chicory (Rafinesquia califor-
), the lupines sparsiflora, hirsutissima and truncatus, chia (Salvia columbariae), caterpillar and common phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria and Phacelia distans), California croton (Croton californicus), globe gilias (Gilia capitata), and showy penstemons (Penstemon spectabilis var. subviscosus). The trail quickly gains altitude and affords an interesting view down on the communities below, and despite the vegetation might have been almost enjoyable were it not for the continual sound of gunfire coming from the gunrange adjacent to the quarry.

Cliff aster (Malacothrix saxatilis var. tenuifolia) began to show a profuse bloom, along with small-seeded spurge (Chamaesyce polycarpa), black sage (Salvia mellifera), canterbury bells (Phacelia minor), strigose lotus (Lotus strigosus), two-tone everlasting (Gnaphalium bicolor), tons of white pincushion (Chaenactis artemisiifolia), and numerous white-flowered south coast morning glories (Calystegia macrostegia var. intermedia). Switchback after switchback took me higher up the side of the ridge, and at one point I missed a sharp, rather inconspicuous turning in the trail, continuing ahead on what appeared to be a path. Others clearly had made this same mistake for it was well-tramped, but it grew fainter and fainter and less like a real trail. However, the trail had been in such poor condition right along that I assumed I was still heading in the correct direction. Eventually, after literally pulling myself up some steep, narrow gullies almost on hands and knees I realized that I must have gone wrong. By this time though, I was reluctant to go all the way back to try to find the real trail, so I bushwhacked up the incline another few hundred yards and ultimately emerged, sopping, dirty, sweating and cursing the trail gods and Vulcan Materials, onto the trail.

I rested for a while and then continued on. I had to find the Plummer's mariposa lily, and I was determined not to allow these minor inconveniences to deter me. White sage (Salvia apiana) was in good bloom, as was California everlasting (Gnaphalium californicum), wishbone bush (Mirabilis californica), purple nightshade (Solanum xanti), chamise (Adenostema fasciculata), and unfortunately the painful tocalote (Centaurea melitensis) and Italian thistle (Carduus pycnocephalus). Soon the saddle across the ridge came into view, and my spirits picked up. Downhill from here, at least until the return trip. But now poison oak began to predominate and I was forced to use my clippers to clear some away from the trail. By now I was so wet I didn't care any more, and I fought my way down and up and through and emerged from the vegetative morass at a fence which I did not remember being there. It was not obvious where the trail went from there, so I went back to see if I had missed another turn, but I hadn't so I returned to the fence. It had probably been at least six years since I had done this hike before, and at this point I was tired and discouraged. I reasoned that based on what I was observing, I could ask Dan about the trail and find out where it went for another day's try. On the way back down I added common deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. scoparius), collarless California poppies (Eschscholzia caespitosa), canyon dodder (Cuscuta subinclusa), buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), and best of all the unexpected climbing milkweed (Sarcostemma cynanchoides ssp. hartwegii).

By the time I got back to the car I was pretty beat, but I saw some obvious hikers heading up the road toward the quarry, so I asked them where they were going, and they told me that today the quarry had arranged a shuttle to transport people through their property to the old trailhead! I'm glad I didn't have any lethal weapons with me because I don't know what I might have done, but I called my wife and she looked online to confirm the truth of what they said, and added that you were supposed to have arrived before noon. It was already 12:30, but I slapped my pack on again and headed up the road. As I was going through the quarry gate, I met a van coming out which stopped and the driver asked me if I was there for the shuttle to the trailhead. He said it was too late, but I persuaded him nevertheless to take me through, promising that I would be back at the trailhead before 3pm which was when everyone was required to be out. He was clearly not a hiker because he seemed surprised when I indicated I could do the four-mile hike in that time.

This was the old trail into the Falls and this would be the first time I had ever had an opportunity to hike it, so I was pretty excited about it. It is a lovely trail, one that older people and kids can handle, and it's such a shame that it has been blocked. It was interesting how different some of the plants were on this mostly shaded, riparian trail than on the open sunny chaparral slope of Van Tassel Ridge. Right away I saw masses of elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata), smooth cat's ear (Hypochaeris glabra), western wallflower (Erysimum capitatum), canyon sweet pea (Lathyrus vestitus), golden stars (Bloomeria crocea), bush poppy (Romneya coulteri), hedge nettle (Stachys bullata), longstalk phacelia (Phacelia longipes), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), farewell-to-spring (Clarkia bottae), fairy lanterns (Calochortus albus), spreading larkspurs (Delphinium patens), woodland stars (Lithophragma affine), baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii), wild blackberry (Rubus ursinus) and bush sunflower (Encelia californica), none of which had been on the Van Tassel trail. Regrettably, though I did reach the Falls, I did not find any of the mariposa lilies that had been the object of this quest. I could only think that it might be too early for them to be blooming, or they might not be here any more. But I knew that sooner or later, I would find them, and meanwhile I had had quite a day.

Sunday and Tuesday, 8 and 10 May, 2005 (Circle X, Santa Monica Mts)

I had read recently on the "What's Blooming in the Santa Monica Mountains" website maintained by Tony Valois, National Park Service volunteer and camp host at Circle X, that there was Brewer's redmaids (Calandrinia breweri) blooming on a section of the Backbone Trail below Triunfo Peak. This was a species I was eager to see especially since I had finally run across seaside redmaids (Calandrinia maritima) on my Jepson outing to the Otay Mesa area of San Diego County, and all the other redmaids I had ever seen had been the common species Calandrinia ciliata. Tony offered to show me where it was and we agreed to meet on Tuesday, but a few hours opened up unexpectedly on Sunday so I drove over there to see if I could find it myself.

The trailhead to this newest section of the Backbone Trail is at a little turnout on Yerba Buena Road across from a driveway with a heavy chain across it at about mile marker 7.6 and only about a mile east of the Mishe Mokwe parking area. It is not signed and is not apparent as a trail until you cross a little rise. This year it is heavily covered in grasses whereas last year it was bare. Caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria var. hispida), hedge nettle (Stachys bullata) and miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) lined the sides of the trail, and I saw a single large fragrant pitcher sage (Lepechinia fragrans) about to bloom. There was morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia ssp. intermedia), bush monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), canyon sunflower (Venegasia carpesioides), a single star lily (Zigadenus fremontii), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), and purple nightshade (Solanum xanti). Suddenly my eye was drawn to a flash of color and I saw a fire poppy (Papaver californicum) with its delicate four-petal flower on top of a tall slender stem. Then there were others, all occupying the same habitat on a relatively bare dirt bank just under the shade of some shrubs.

I continued on and was soon rewarded by another member of the poppy family, the tall beautifully-white bleeding hearts (Dicentra ochroleuca), which apparently can be yellowish but more typically are white to cream in color. Butterflies were flitting around all over the trail and I managed to get some nice pictures of a sara orangetip (Anthocharis sara) which obligingly sat on a golden yarrow (Eriophyllum confertifolium). Popcorn flowers and silver puffs were low growers, while up on the increasingly stony trailside were numerous lance-leaf dudleyas (Dudleya lanceolata), all with the reddish coloration I have come to associate with this area. I came to one place where there was a profusion of peninsular onions (Allium peninsulare), and beyond that there were Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), fiesta flowers (Pholistoma auritum) and heart-leaved penstemons (Keckiella cordifolia).

I was following the GPS coordinates Tony had given me, and as I grew nearer to where I expected the Brewer's redmaids to be I began to pay careful attention to the trailside. As you turn one corner, the vegetation changes dramatically, and in focusing on small things I saw what looked like sticky false-gilia (Allophyllum glutinosum), and then two things that I was not familiar with but whose genera was apparent to me. They turned out upon closer inspection to be the tiny threadstem madia (Madia exigua) and the almost equally small many-nerved catchfly (Silene multinervia), both new species for me. The madia was blooming, the catchfly unfortunately was not. Although I went a good deal farther than Tony's coordinates indicated, and went back and forth along that section of the trail several times, I was unable to find any Brewer's redmaids. This was disappointing, but fortunately I still had my Tuesday appointment with Tony and I was hopeful that there would still be a few blooming for me to see.

On Tuesday I met my friend Richard Sapiro who was also eager to see the redmaids, and we drove back to the same trailhead and met Tony. He was an immediately congenial trail partner and it was obvious that he had a great deal of expertise with plants in general and those of Circle X in particular. We headed off to the area where the redmaids were supposed to be, stopping only briefly to discuss a few things seen en route. It only took him a few minutes to find the first one, and I realized that there were several reasons I had not seen it before. It's quite possible that since on Sunday it was earlier in the day, the blooms had just not begun to open. But after seeing a few, it was clear to me that my mental image of both the plant and its likely habitat had been insufficient for me to find it whether it had been open or not. All other redmaids I had seen are typically found along the grassy verges of trails, whereas these were growing in the exact middle of the trail, just where people would walk on them. And it was a much smaller plant and flower than I had expected. In any case, then and later as we continued on along the trail, we found more and more of them, and I was able to get the photographs I wanted. See photograph here.

This is an absolutely beautiful section of the Backbone Trail with gorgeous views down into the valley of the Arroyo Sequit and out to the ocean and the Channel Islands. There is also a trail that provides access to Triunfo Peak. I thank Tony Valois for introducing me to it and to the Brewer's redmaids, and I hope we will be able to hike together again. Tony's pictures of Santa Monica Mountains wildflowers are absolutely stunning and can be found at

Thursday-Sunday, 12-15 May 2005 (Jepson Death Valley Field Trip)

This was the second of my scheduled field trips organized by the Jepson Herbarium, and the destination this time was the Eureka Dunes area and the Inyo Mts. The trip leader was Dana York, former Death Valley National Park botanist, and we camped in a primitive campground at the end of a bone-jarring ten miles of washboard road right at the base of 680'-high Eureka Dunes with a dramatic view of the Last Chance Range in the opposite direction. I was pleased to greet again photographer and molecular biologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory John Game, Jeff Greenhouse of the Jepson Herbarium, former soil scientist and photographer for the USDA Gary Monroe, and CNPS member Heath Bartosh, all veterans of many other Jepson outings.

On the way into the campground, along Death Valley Road from Big Pine, I was introduced to a new yellow-
blooming shrub I was unfamiliar with, longspine horsebrush (Tetradymia axillaris var. longispina). There was also lots of the common variant of prince's plume (Stanleya pinnata var. pinnata), Stansbury phlox (Phlox stansburyi), desert aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia), desert indian paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia), carpets of yellow cryptantha (Cryptantha confertiflora), and joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia), all in bloom. I pulled into the campground and immediately spotted a white-flowering sand verbena which I was informed was Abronia turbinata, another new species which I was interested to see ever since I had seen a white variant of Abronia villosa out in the East Mojave and thought then incorrectly that it was turbinata. Before supper on Thursday we had seen and identified spotted buckwheat (Eriogonum maculatum), some little-leaved Mojave indigo bush (Psorothamnus arborescens var. minutifolius), bell gilia (Gilia campanulata), pebble pincushion (Chaenactis carphoclinia), dune broom (Chaetadelpha wheeleri) and daisy desertstars (Monoptilon bellidiforme). The campground was also well supplied with the saltbushes Atriplex confertifolia and A. polycarpa. The weekend had barely begun and it was already shaping up to be a terrific excursion.

The dune we were camped next to is the highest in California and 2nd highest in the United States. It was of a type that has been called a 'singing' or 'booming' dune, because of the rumbling sound that it occasionally makes. It is a phenomenon that is not well understood, but appears to be caused when the wind or people's footsteps get the sand grains to rolling over each other. Dana described it as a vertical reservoir, or a 'reservoir in the sky,' because even at the top of the dune in the dry part of the year, you can dig down a few feet and feel moist sand. On Friday morning we took a walk up onto the loose sand of the lower slopes of the dune to see some dune endemics like shining milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. micans), eureka dunes evening primrose (Oenothera californica ssp. eurekensis), and eureka valley dune grass (Swallenia alexandrae). There was also dotted indigo bush (Psorothamnus polydenius), naked cleome (Cleome sparsifolia), yellow saucers (Malacothrix sonchoides), dune spurge (Chamaesyce ocellata ssp. arenicola), the stout-trunked Inyo prince's plume (Stanleya pinnata var. inyoensis) and lots and lots of the little desert trumpet (Eriogonum trichopes). Across from the campground, perhaps a mile away, the bajadas coming down from the Last Chance Mts were colored yellow from this last species which was amazing because each individual plant is almost invisible due to being so slender and diminutive. Some of us also saw the yellow-blooming lanceleaf browneyes (Camissonia claviformis ssp. lancifolia), gravel milkvetch (Astragalus sabulonum), and an Atriplex that might have been silverscale saltbush (Atriplex argentea) but might also have been something else.

After a brief break, we piled into several vehicles and headed for Hanging Rock Canyon, home of some rare carbonates. There we saw Rixford's rockwort (Scopulophila rixfordii), Gilman's cymopterus (Cymopterus gilmanii), Shockley's goldenheads (Acamptopappus shockleyi), sunray (Enceliopsis nudicaulis), desert sandwort (Arenaria macradenia), Death Valley beardtongue (Penstemon fruticiformis), Jones' cloak fern (Argyrochosma jonesii), lilac sunbonnets (Langloisia setosissima ssp. punctata), Panamint phacelia (Phacelia perityloides var. perityloides), Gilman's buckwheat (Eriogonum gilmanii), broadleaf gilia (Gilia latifolia), round-leaved phacelia (Phacelia rotundifolia), wild onions (Allium atrorubens), threadstem gilia (Gilia filiformis), slender lipfern (Cheilanthes feei) and Parry's lipfern (C. parryi), roundleaf oxytheca (Oxytheca perfoliata), Panamint prince's plume (Stanleya elata), yellow-eyed lupine (Lupinus flavoculatus), three-hearts (Tricardia watsonii), and the beautiful Death Valley monkeyflower (Mimulus rupicola) which I had looked for unsuccessfully on several previous trips to Death Valley. These listed species were only about half of all we saw. It was almost too much to absorb, and it was only Friday.

Saturday morning we got up and headed toward Dedeckera Canyon, on the back side of the dune from the campground, stopping to take a group photo and to see the large yellow primrose (Oenothera primiveris ssp. bufonis) and Shockley's desert lupine (Lupinus shockleyi). Dedeckera Canyon received its current name some-what circuitously. Mary Dedecker on July 4th, 1974, discovered a new genus and species in this canyon which was given the name of Dedeckera eurekensis, commonly called July gold for its bloom time. Since you can't name a physical feature for a living person, they named the canyon instead after the shrub she found there. In addition to the Dedeckera, which was not blooming, we saw limestone beardtongue (Penstemon calcareus), Acton encelia (Encelia actonii), holly-leaved hazardia (Hazardia brickellioides), Shockley's prickle-leaf (Hecastocleis shockleyi), desert rock-nettle (Eucnide urens), Panamint butterfly bush (Buddleja utahensis), the Inyo blazing star (Mentzelia oreophila), winterfat (Kraschenennikovia lanata), Death Valley goldeneye (Viguiera reticulata), gum-leaved brickellia (Brickellia multiflora), Death Valley sage (Salvia funerea), and the borages curvenut cryptantha (Cryptantha recurvata) and bushy cryptantha (C. racemosa). On the way back to camp, we made one final stop to check out some caltha-leaved phacelia (Phacelia calthifolia), Layne's locoweed (Astragalus laynei), and the rare Reveal's buckwheat (Eriogonum contiguum). Saturday evening after a good dinner we went down to the playa below the dune and began removing a large patch of an introduced species called African mustard (Malcolmia africana, not to be confused with Brassica tournefortii, another species sometimes called African mustard). Dana said this was its first observed occurrence in Death Valley, and we worked on its removal until after dark, searching for these invasive weeds by flashlight, when Dana called a halt.

Sunday morning after breakfast, we went back down and worked on the Malcolmia removal for another hour before packing up camp and heading for the Inyo Mts. Our destination was Harkness Flats Road, where we parked and began checking out the Great Basin flora there. We saw spiny menodora (Menodora spinescens), naked milkvetch (Astragalus serenoi var. shockleyi), slender beautiful rock-cress (Arabis pulchra var. gracilis), Minthorn's milkvetch (Astragalus minthorniae var. villosus), an entire hillside covered with beautifully blooming desert peach (Prunus andersonii), Newberry's rattleweed (Astragalus newberryi), rose heath (Chaetopappa ericoides), red-stemmed monkeyflower (Mimulus rubellus), Fremont's milkvetch (Astragalus lentiginosus var. fremontii), Bigelow's monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii), wingfruit sun cup (Camissonia pterosperma) and Shockley's rock-cress (Arabis shockleyi), and no doubt could have encountered many other things if we hadn't had to end the outing by mid-day.

Other plants that we saw in more than one location during the weekend were birdnest buckwheat (Eriogonum nidularium), woolly marigold (Baileya pleniradiata), gravel ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla), the beautiful bristly langloisia (Langloisia setosissima ssp. setosissima), Cryptantha micrantha and C. circumscissa, Nevada ephedra (Ephedra nevadensis), Booth's intermediate sun cup (Camissonia boothii ssp. intermedia), indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), Fremont's phacelia (Phacelia fremontii), fanleaf (Psathyrotes annua), desert needlegrass (Achnatherum speciosum), desert larkspurs (Delphinium parishii), desert calico (Loeseliastrum matthewsii), Death Valley browneyed primrose (Camissonia claviformis ssp. funerea), purple mat (Nama demissum var. demissum), cheesebush (Hymenoclea salsola), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), rock gilia (Gilia scopulorum), blackbanded rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus paniculatus), apricot mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), Mormon needlegrass (Achnatherum aridum), Pacific blazing star (Mentzelia obscura), spreading gilia (Ipomopsis polycladon), Panamint milkvetch (Astragalus panamintensis), spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), white tackstem (Calycoseris wrightii), showy gilia (Gilia cana ssp. triceps), and several other gilias and at least one other Astragalus that have yet to be pinned down. All in all, it was an amazing trip, the best of the five I have taken with the Jepson people.

Tuesday, 19 May 2005 (Cobal Canyon, San Gabriel Foothills)

This was my first excursion into Cobal Canyon, and I went today in search of Plummer's mariposa lily which I have only seen once before and which I failed to find two weeks ago in Fish Canyon above Azusa. The Cobal Canyon trailhead is located at the end of North Mills Avenue not far beyond its intersection with Mt. Baldy Road and provides access to a loop trail through the Claremont Wilderness Park. I had been informed by my friend Jane Strong that she had seen "zillions" of them blooming last May, and so I was very optimistic that with this year's rains I would have no difficulty in locating them. The Cobal Canyon/Burbank Canyon loop is about 4-1/2 miles long, and I was unsure from her brief communication whether she had gone clockwise or counterclockwise around the loop. I followed the Cobal Canyon Trail straight ahead at its junction with the Burbank Canyon Trail, enjoying the myriads of other flowers but looking for the telltale red soil where the mariposas were supposed to be growing. You get to this section in about 1/2 mile and the reddish soil of the roadbank is very obvious. As I continued up the road, I closely inspected both sides of the trail, not being sure where I might find these lilies. There were none in evidence and when I got to a point where I could work my way up onto a flat, grassy mesa area, I did so, but could observe no mariposas anywhere. I thought that either I had come the wrong way or perhaps the great profusion of mustards and grasses had choked them out. Another possibility was that they just hadn't started blooming yet.

I continued up the road, stopping at one point to ask a Fire Service employee whether the road I was on did in fact loop around and return to the parking lot. I had to pick up my daughter from school at 3:15 and I didn't want to get too far along a road that wasn't going back to the car. Although I saw many other flowers including a really nice patch of yellow monkeyflowers (Mimulus brevipes), some rush-roses (Helianthemum scoparium), and some healthy-looking yarrows (Achillea millefolium), the red soil area had been left behind and I saw no sign of Plummer's mariposas. I decided that I would have to come back again in a few weeks and try again.

Thursday, 21 May 2005 (Torino/Tovashal Trail Loop, Santa Rosa Plateau)

The Torino section of this trail loop had just recently been re-opened after the completion of a great deal of work repairing trails and replacing small bridges over creeks. It is a lovely 2-1/2 mile long loop with very little elevation gain or loss on the west side of Clinton Keith Road across from the main part of the Reserve, and is made up of the Torino Trail, a section of Sylvan Meadows Road, and the Tovashal Trail. The best thing I saw today was prostrate spineflower (Chorizanthe procumbens), but there was also a lovely patch of three-spot (Osmadenia tenella) along both sides of the trail at one place, masses of splendid mariposa lily (Calochortus splendens) along many parts of the loop, both common and short-winged deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. scoparius and L.s. var. brevialatus), the real rattlesnake weed (Chamaesyce albomarginata) (as opposed to the Chamaesyce polycarpa species that is often identified as that), hyssop loosestrife (Lythrum hyssopifolia), canchalagua (Centaurium venustum), Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla), blue larkspur (Delphinium parryi ssp. parryi), hooked navarretia (Navarretia hamata ssp. hamata), and many other things.

Friday, 22 May 2005 (Undisclosed location, San Diego County)

I am not saying where this locality is because technically speaking I was not supposed to be there. My goal here was to find and photograph the rare Orcutt's brodiaea (Brodiaea orcuttii). I parked my car and scrambled down into a wide drainage channel, fighting my way through chest-high weeds and feeling foxtails working their way into my shoes and socks. I had a rough idea of the cross-country route I was supposed to follow and eventually broke out onto a rocky streambed in the middle of the channel, following it for approximately a half-mile and then turning westward along a fence-line. This area had been burned recently and it was covered with blackened chamise stems, and I was not happy to look down and see the effect it was having on my clothes. Still, the prospect of the Orcutt's brodiaea made it all worthwhile. I was having some difficulty in reconciling my directions and the area I was traversing, but after a tiring 30 minutes or so found myself approaching some landmarks that I had been warned to look out for and I knew I was close.

After passing through an open gate I saw my first brodiaea, and it was with excitement that I scanned the grassy surroundings to see more and more of the beautiful blue flowers popping up. I photographed a number of them from different angles, being careful to get pictures that showed the absence of staminodes, which is the key dis-
criminant between this species and all other brodiaeas in California. There were some other things blooming in the area, but I was done.

Saturday, 23 May 2005 (Reagan Ranch, Santa Monica Mts)

Jay Sullivan had notified me recently that the California tea (Rupertia physodes) was beginning to bloom at Reagan Ranch, and since this had been one of my goals this spring, I was optimistic that I would at last get some photographs of this species. Having seen at least a couple of other species that I had originally thought were this one, I was pretty convinced even before hearing from Jay that we had California tea growing here, and I had been to see it several times to check on its bloom status with disappointing results.

Along the road from the parking lot, I saw a number of erect-stemmed clumps of what I now recognize as onion-
weed (Asphodelus fistulosus) which I had never seen before at Reagan Ranch. The black mustard covering the meadows north of the road was still a thick yellow, but the white blooms of the black locust were all gone. Some bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) was blooming along the road, and farther along thick stands of milk thistle (Silybum marianum). The trail down into the meadow is heavily overgown and in very poor shape. It's a shame the Park Service does not do anything to improve it. The wild radish (Rafinesquia californica) is mostly gone now, as is much of the winter vetch (Vicia villosa), and in its place there is purple and speckled clarkia (Clarkia purpurea and C. cylindrica), small-flowered and common fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii var. menziesii and A.m. var. intermedia), and mountain dandelion (Agoseris grandiflora). Also common linanthus (Linanthus parviflorus) and some lingering Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla) and spreading larkspur (Delphinium patens ssp. hepaticoideum).

At first the California tea looked the same as it had the two times I had seen it recently, that is sans flowers, but as I searched around more carefully I began to find blooms on some of the plants. I will probably go back again in a couple of weeks to see if the bloom is more profuse, but for the time being it was good to be able to determine that the species here is actually as Richard and I had thought it was, and to get some photos of it. On the way back, I dropped down into the meadow to find a few earth brodiaeas (Brodiaea terrestris ssp. kernensis) and goldenstars (Bloomeria crocea) peaking through the tall grass, and the silver and brown seed balls of Uropappus lindleyi and Stebbinsoseris heyerocarpa. The golden current (Ribes aureum) is finished now, but there were numerous blooms on the wild rose shrubs (Rosa californica), and large clumps of harding grass (Phalaris aquatica) lined the trail. This section of the trail is in even worse shape with deep ruts caused by water-erosion from the recent rains and the further damage caused by horses' hooves.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 (Circle X, Santa Monica Mts)

This morning I took advantage of a day off from my volunteer job at the Page Museum and drove over to the Circle X Ranch area of the Santa Monica Mountains to hike the Grottoes Trail which I had never done before and had always been curious about. The road goes from the Ranger Station down through the group campground where I had camped on my Backbone Trail hike with Milt McAuley several years ago, and seeing it again brought back some nice memories of a wonderful week-long tramp across the Santa Monicas. I had no real specific botanical goals for this hike although my friend Tony Valois, volunteer ranger and camp host for Circle X, had told me of seeing some blue scarlet pimpernels down in the Grottoes and I was eager to see if I could find any. The trail basically winds down into the West Fork of the Arroyo Sequit and is pretty much downhill all the way. I passed some gorgeous displays of elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) and sticky madia (Madia gracilis), noting also the white blooms of California everlasting (Gnaphalium californicum), heartleaf penstemon (Penstemon cordifolia), crimson pitcher sage (Salvia spathacea), yellow and bush monkeyflower (Mimulus brevipes and M. aurantiacus), several Catalina mariposa lilies (Calochortus catalinae), and numerous popcorn flowers, at least some of which turned out upon keying to be Cleveland's cryptantha (Cryptantha clevelandii), one of the five cryptantha species in the Santa Monicas. There were intermediate sun cups (Camissonia intermedia) amongst buckwheats toward the top of the trail, and down lower I spotted some Fish's milkwort (Polygala cornuta var. fishiae) in full bloom.

Butterflies were very numerous along the trail, mostly Gabb's and chalcedona checkerspots. Toward the bottom of the trail, I was temporarily excited to see what I thought at first was Nuttall's nemacladus (Nemacladus ramosissimus), which is a Santa Monicas species I had never seen before. Unfortunately for me it turned out to be the superficially similar small-flowered dwarf flax (Hesperolinon micranthum) which I had photographed at the Santa Rosa Plateau once before, but this was a much denser stand of it. It is a short, intricately-branched plant with extremely slender stems and tiny white flowers that would be easily missed. Although I saw many of the salmon-colored scarlet pimpernels, there were none of the blue ones in evidence, and I turned around for the 1-
3/4 mile hike back up to the car.

Before going home, I walked part of the new section of the Backbone Trail I had done with Tony and my friend Richard Sapiro two weeks ago. I wanted to see if I could get some pictures of the many-nerved catchfly in bloom, but alas all flowers were either done or still in bud. Maybe it's one of those that's not open during the hot part of the day? I was not particularly disappointed by this since I had photographed it in bloom on my Otay Mesa field trip last month. The peninsular onion, fire poppies and bleeding hearts were still blooming nicely, but the Madia exigua was all gone. I noted several lovely yellow mariposa lily (Calochortus clavatus) blooms along the way and a profusion of California hedge nettle (Stachys bullata). The trail was lined in places with canyon sunflowers (Venegasia carpesioides) and graced in a couple of spots by beautiful white fragrant pitcher sages (Lepechinia fragrans). I stopped to photograph a pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) that was so engrossed in feeding from a large bleeding heart that I think I could have stroked its wings without bothering it. This is a lovely trail but amazingly grown over with grasses in many places.

Saturday, 28 May 2005 (Cobal Canyon, San Gabriel Foothills)

Having a few hours to spare today and armed with somewhat more detailed information provided by my friend Jane Strong, I ventured up the Cobal Canyon trail in search of the Plummer's mariposa lily (Calochortus plummerae) I had been unsuccessful in finding on my previous visit here and in Fish Canyon several weeks ago. Immediately beyond the parking lot I was chagrined to notice some Bituminaria bituminosa blooming along the road. It seems to be spreading all across the foothills. There were some nice displays of common phacelia (Phacelia distans), canterbury bells (Phacelia minor) and caterpillar phacelia (Phacelia cicutaria), bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), common deerweed (Lotus scoparius var. scoparius), farewell-to-spring (Clarkia bottae), cliff aster (Malacothrix saxatilis var. tenuifolia), a single moth mullein (Verbascum blattaria), and some San Bernardino sun cups (Camissonia confusa) and mustard evening primrose (C. californica). The trail crosses a stream channel and then in a short distance forks with the Cobal Canyon trail going straight ahead and the trail going up Burbank Canyon going off to the left. I continued straight ahead.

Beyond the second stream crossing the trail enters some shady woodlands and I could see on the right a really beautiful stand of Humboldt lilies (Lilium humboldtii), with a second even larger stand a little ways farther on. I decided to leave that for later and pressed on. My friend Jane's instructions said to go beyond the "second big curve" and I was just pondering what a big curve was when I came to the first and it was obviously a big curve. Then when I got to another big curve with an open area on the east side, I knew I was in the right place. And sure enough it didn't take much searching to locate my first Plummer's mariposa, a lovely long-stalked flower high up on a bank. There were a couple more of them even higher up, but I took some pictures of the first and continued on, hoping for greater displays. The high road bank of different looking red soil continued up the road and I saw what appeared to be several more plants on top that were in bud, but no more blooming. As soon as I could, around the 3.75 mile marker (the first marker indicates 4.25 miles and is measured from the other end of the loop), I clambered up the bank onto the grassy mesa above and was instantly rewarded by a single gorgeous flower. As I looked around and began walking through the tall grass amongst yucca plants and burned chamise stems, I noticed more and more of them. There were not the "hundreds" that Jane reported last May on a hike with Bob Muns, but it's early yet and considering that I had walked through this same area just nine days ago without seeing any, I had no doubt that her report was accurate. It had been 7-8 years since the only previous time I had seen this species and it was so nice to make its acquaintance again. My few poor photos of it from then only hinted at its beauty, and of course since the mariposa lilies are my favorite group of wildflowers, I was quite ecstatic, and I thank Jane again for letting me know about this location. See photos here.

After photographing many individual flowers, I headed back down the road, eventually sliding down an embank-
ment, crossing a small creek and climbing up the other side through poison oak and other shrubbery to the Humboldt lilies. It was a pleasure to see thriving, healthy and most importantly untouched plants after so often in recent years having observed these lilies with their tops clipped off.