Photographs by Michael Charters

When I learned that Tom Chester was planning a trip to Cushenbury Canyon to investigate some Arabis species, I decided to go along since I had made a couple of trips there in May 2004 and March 2005. He had some locations provided by Tommy Stoughton along Whiskey Road and it turned out that this was the same locality I had been to before. I returned a few days later by myself and did some further exploration. Cushenbury Canyon is a steep slice through the northern flanks of the San Bernardino Mountains, opening out onto the Lucerne Valley. Limestone was mined there by Henry J. Kaiser during WWII, and the rocky carbonate soils of the scrubby pinyon and juniper scattered hillsides support some uncommon species. The steepness of the terrain, its unstable nature, and its rocky composition make it rough going, but the fact that Cushenbury Canyon is one of the specific localities mentioned in Jepson Manual range descriptions is an indication of the rarity of some of the taxa that are to be found there. Whiskey Road begins at a small dirt parking area about nine miles down from Big Bear City and about 10 miles south of the junction of CA-247 and Hwy 18. The Mitsubishi Cement Corporation's Cushenbury Plant is about two miles further down the hill. To call it a road is being generous. This photo gallery shows by its inclusion of eleven taxa the common name of which begins with 'desert,' that the desert does not begin as most people might think at the base of the mountains, but rather almost as soon as one comes across the ridge from Big Bear. Many things that we saw had clearly bloomed already so next year I will try to make a couple of trips earlier in the season to see what else can be found there. An upside-down V next to the common name is for a taxon I had never seen before.

Firecracker penstemon
Penstemon eatonii var. undosus
[Named for American botanist Daniel Cady Eaton (1834-1895)]

Flannel bush
Fremontodendron californicum ssp. californicum

Chaparral yucca
Hesperoyucca whipplei

[Formerly Yucca whipplei]
    Desert bluebells
Phacelia campanularia ssp. vasiformis

Rock buckwheat
Eriogonum saxatile

Chamaesyce albomarginata

Mono groundsel
Senecio flaccidus var. monoensis
Desert indian paintbrush
Castilleja angustifolia

Minthorn's millkvetch
Astragalus minthorniae

[Named for Maud Aileen Minthorn (1883-1966), sister of Theodore Wilson Minthorn (1886-1967), botanist who
collected in the Santa Susanna Mountains. Flower picture taken on a previous field trip.]

Interior goldenbush
Ericameria linearifolia

San Bernardino Mountains dudleya
Dudleya abramsii ssp. affinis