Field Trips Log
November 2006

Friday, 3 November 2006

I have been criticized by a person whose name for the time being shall remain anonymous, for my "relentless pursuit" of the "rare" plant Lobelia cardinalis, the reports of which have been included in this log page on 9 September and 23 September. My "relentless pursuit" has consisted of approximately three outings in search of this plant, which incidentally although a difficult one to find in Southern California, is not a rare plant, and is in fact listed by the US Department of Agriculture as being present in 41 states. It is also not listed in any category by the CNPS Inventory of Rare Plants. I had received information from this person about a possible location for this species, information which was detailed and freely offered, and given in the full knowledge that I was going to go to that location. The subsequent remarks of this person to me after I put my report online pursuaded me to rewrite my report and delete mention of its specific location. However, this was apparently not satisfactory, and several continuing communications to me were so intemperate and so paranoid, suggesting that I was deliberately encouraging people to go off trails in search of rare plants, that I had an ulterior motive in approaching this person, and that I was trying to make this person look bad in the botanical community, that I felt I had to clear the air. I have never encouraged anyone to disturb sensitive areas, and I have endeavored to respect such areas whenever it has been clear either through public information or posted signage that they should be left alone. I had never met this person or had any communication with this person, and had absolutely no reason whatsoever to try to cast him or her in any negative light. Such a suggestion was ridiculous on its face, and angered me greatly. I have received information subsequently that I am not the first person to have been the target of this person's ire.

As to my "relentless pursuit," which this person clearly considered a bad thing, I am reminded of the botanical collector and authority on ferns Daniel Cleveland, who set out to rediscover all the plants of the San Diego area that had been found only once. The entry for him in my Botanical Names website contains the following: "He was one of the founding members of the San Diego Natural History Society, founded the herbarium of the San Diego Natural History Museum, and was author of The Best Way of Collecting and Preserving Specimens, The Ferns of San Diego County, and Bee Range and Honey and Pollen Producing Plants of San Diego County. He also donated a collection of minerals to the San Diego Natural History Museum." I in no way compare myself to him or to any of the excellent botanists whom I have been very fortunate to have had contact with over the past decade, but a determination to accomplish something and not let setbacks deter one is generally considered a good thing, and therefore I choose to take this person's usage of that phrase as a compliment. And I will continue to search for the Lobelia, while at the same time making every effort to not disturb sensitive areas or publicize their locations to others who might have fewer scruples than I.

Friday, 10 November 2006 (Botanical Gardens)

Lately I have taken a break from my work on native plants, which seemed appropriate given that there isn't much blooming at this time of the year. Instead I have been trying to reorganize my Flora of South Africa website and have been making repeated visits to photograph South African plants at various botanical gardens, such as the Huntington, the Quail Botanical Gardens, the Los Angeles Arboretum, the UC Riverside Botanical Garden and the Mildred Mathias Botanical Garden at UCLA. I have added a substantial number of new species, including many in bloom, but it will be some time yet before I put the new site on line. I now have pictures of 67 different species of Aloe and 32 species of Euphorbia. One new site which I have created has grown out of this endeavor, and that is What's Blooming at the Los Angeles Arboretum, which is intended to be a monthly photographic display of some of the more notable and showy flowers that I have found there. The Arboretum is only about a five minute drive from my house, so I will be able to make frequent visits there.

November to March
NOTE: For the dozen or so people who might actually have encountered this page and who might have wondered whether I had succumbed to some rare form of poison oak poisoning, I want to explain that partly because of the dry year we are having which may turn out to be the driest on record and partly because of my work at the LA County Arboretum, I have not been doing any field work of any significance. However, I do have a visit to Anacapa Island and a number of Jepson Herbarium field trips coming up which I hopefully will be reporting on in some detail. Stay tuned.