On April Fool's Day I joined a group including Tom Chester, Nancy Accola, Walt Fidler, Bruce Watts, Steven Daniel, Kirk Anderson, and RT and Shaun Hawke, for a stroll along the Cactus Spring Trail in the Santa Rosa Mountains. It was a beautiful day, sunny but not too hot, and the flora was out in abundance. The trailhead for the Cactus Spring and Sawmill Trails is 8 miles west of the junction of SR74 and SR371, about 20 minutes from Idyllwild, and the trail has ups and downs to Horsethief Creek and then to Cactus Spring. The net elevation gain from the trailhead at 4045' to Horsethief Creek is about 1165'. Tom's plant guide says "This trail is remarkably rich in species. There are 203 taxa found on the trail itself, and an additional 25 taxa are found just off-trail along it. The richness is due to two main factors. First, the trail contains both low-elevation desert species and higher-elevation montane species, due to its elevation range of 3480 to 4200 feet. The desert species are near their upper elevation ranges, and the montane species are near their lower elevation range. Second, the trail samples many different habitats, including slopes of all aspect ratios (north, south, east and west facing slopes), flat areas, and riparian areas." Another amazing thing about this trail is the very small number of introduced species. The photo above is of a hillside covered with desert prickly-pear (Opuntia phaeacantha). Click here for Tom Chester's plant guide to this trail and here for his checklist of the vascular flora of this area. An upside-down V next to the common name indicates a species that was new to me when I photographed it on this field trip.

Indian breadroot ^
Pediomelum californicum
[Some species have woody roots while others have starchy tuber-like roots which can be eaten like tuber vegetables such as potatoes or made into flour.]

Ashy silktassel
Garrya flavescens

[Named for Nicholas Garry, 1782-1856, assistant to Scottish botanist David Douglas]

Bajada lupine
Lupinus concinnus

Woolly indian paintbrush
Castilleja foliolosa

Woolly daisy
Eriophyllum wallacei

Beavertail cactus
Opuntia basilaris var.
Bernardia incana

[Named after French taxonomist Bernard de Jussieu, 1699-1776]

Bearded cryptantha
Cryptantha barbigera

Bigberry manzanita
Arctostaphylos glauca

Retrorse desert four o'clock
Mirabilis laevis var. retrorsa

Bigelow's monkeyflower
Mimulus bigelovii


Copyright © 2017 by Michael L. Charters.
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