SALINE VALLEY, INYO COUNTY APRIL 2009 PAGE ONE
Photographs by Michael Charters




This was the first of my three scheduled Jepson Herbarium workshops for 2009, and the location could hardly have been more desolate or more exotic. A "clothing-optional" campsite, warm springs, wild burros braying in the night, fantastic scenery, highly knowledgeable participants, a superb trip leader and great vegetation all combined to make this one of the best of the ten Jepson workshops I have attended. The Saline Valley is on the inland or eastern side of the Inyo Mountains (which are shown in the picture above) and is bordered on the east by the Saline and Last Chance Ranges. It is accessible only by a fairly rough dirt road either from the 395 at Big Pine or from the 190 to the south. The washboard surface of this road is hard on cars and I had a tire blow-out soon after leaving the valley and had to have all four of my shock absorbers replaced. This is not an area to be entered casually as it is a long way from any services and can often be isolated in wintertime by snow in the passes. Previously administered by the BLM, it has been since 1994 part of Death Valley National Park. The Saline is an endorheic valley with no outflow, and if filled with water would be some 4000' deep. It contains a dry lake, a salt marsh, a sand dune system and the remains of a borax mining operation and aerial tramway that carried the borax up 7500' over the Inyos and down to the Owens Valley. Silver, talc and salt were also mined there. Low-flying military aircraft frequently roar overhead. Paiute and Shoshone peoples once occupied the valley, and it was supposedly also a hangout for the murderer Charles Manson. It's an incredible place if you're brave enough to go there. A few of the species displayed here were photographed along the Saline Valley Road and not in the Valley proper. An upside-down V next to the common name indicates a taxon that was new to me when I photographed it on this field trip.


   
Cima milkvetch ^
Astragalus cimae var. sufflatus
Fabaceae
 
Desert indian paintbrush
Castilleja angustifolia
Scrophulariaceae


 
Gilia
Gilia sp.
Polemoniaceae


 
 
 
 
cf. Layne's locoweed
Astragalus laynae
Fabaceae
 
 
 



 
Cottontop cactus ^
Echinocactus polycephalus var. polycephalus
Cactaceae


 
 
Fremont's phacelia
Phacelia fremontii
Hydrophyllaceae
 
 
Spiny menodora
Menodora spinescens
Oleaceae
Budsage, Spiny sagebrush ^
Artemisia spinescens
Asteraceae
Checker fiddleneck
Amsinckia tessellata var. tessellata
Boraginaceae
Rosy apricot mallow ^
Sphaeralcea ambigua var. rosacea
Malvaceae


 
Wild burros
 



 
 
Bristly langloisia
Langloisia setosissima ssp. setosissima
Polemoniaceae
 
Columbine
Aquilegia formosa
Ranunculaceae
Beavertail cactus
Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris
Cactaceae
   


 
Desert fivespot
Eremalche rotundifolia
Malvaceae
 
Wild heliotrope
Heliotropium curassavicum
Boraginaceae


       
   
Desert holly
Atriplex hymenelytra
Chenopodiaceae
   
    Broadleaf gilia
Gilia latifolia
Polemoniaceae


 
Arrowleaf
Pleurocoronis pluriseta
Asteraceae


 

Copyright © 2009 by Michael L. Charters.
The photographs contained on these web pages may not be reproduced without the express consent of the author.

Comments and/or questions may be addressed to: mmlcharters[at]gmail.com.