Photographs by Michael Charters

Eight years ago in September 2006, I walked a mile or so down the trail below the Switzer parking area. This is actually part of the Gabrielino Trail which goes from Chantry Flat over Newcomb Pass, along the West Fork to Red Box, and down the Arroyo Seco to JPL. Along the way a side trail goes down to the base of Switzer Falls, and it occurred to me that I had never done a photo gallery for this area and had also never been to the falls. Back in 2006 I photographed two species that I had never seen before, Lobelia dunnii var. serrata and Symphyotrichum greatae. I know now that these two species, are even rarer than I had realized back then. Each of them I have only seen in the San Gabriels in one other location, and for both of them it had been in September. According to the Jepson Manual, Lobelia dunnii blooms beginning in July so this being the very end of June I had some hopes of finding it in bloom, but I was amazed when I found both species in bloom. The Lobelia was in the exact same spot where it had been eight years before, confined to one small rock face just above the creek, and I was very pleased to see it there again. The Greata's aster was fairly abundant along the trail. It's a nice hike to the falls, even though summertime after several dry years has not produced much in the way of water flow. To get to the Switzer parking area, you drive up the Angeles Crest Highway from La Canada to just beyond Clear Creek junction. There are several parking areas. The elevation at the beginning of the trail is 3,300'. Switzer's Camp was built by Commodore (yes, his first name) Perry Switzer (1826-1910), a Pasadena builder and carpenter and friend of Bob and Liz Waterman. The area was referred to as Switzer-Land. The symbol * next to a common name indicates a non-native taxon.

Note on the pronunciation of Louis Greata's name: I have been unable to find any living relatives of Louis Greata so the following is not conclusive. Normally, the specific ending -ae indicates that it commemorates the name of a woman, but the rule is that if the name of the person being so honored ends in an 'a', then it takes a final 'e.' The pronunciation of Greata's name has caused me difficulty. Akrigg & Akrigg's British Columbia Place Names apparently gives the pronunciation as GREET-a, but a representative of the Cedar Creek/Greata Ranch Vineyards in British Columbia told me that they pronounce the name as GRET-a. Since I know of no connection between Louis Greata and the Greata Ranch or British Columbia, the foregoing may be inconsequential. I have heard other people pronounce it as GRATE-a which corresponds to the pronunciation of the English word that it is closest to. Even if it were an English word, its pronunciation would be problematic given the various soundings of the vowel combination 'ea' as in 'mean,' 'pear,' 'great,' 'heard,' 'heart' and 'leapt,' but as a personal name its pronunciation does not necessarily conform to any rules. I can't say how he pronounced his name unless and until I am contacted by a relative. The 'ae' ending should be pronounced as 'ee,' so the possibilities for the pronunciation of this specific name would appear to be 'greet-ee,' 'gret-ee,' or 'grate-ee,' but I usually opt for the first simply because in the case of the great majority of English words, this vowel combination is pronounced as 'ee.'

Greata's aster
Symphyotrichum greatae

[Named for Louis Agustin Greata, 1857-1911]

Blue-witch nightshade
Solanum umbelliferum

Round-leaved boykinia
Boykinia rotundifolia

[for Samuel Boykin, 1786-1848]

Leafy daisy
Erigeron foliosus var. foliosus

Heartleaf penstemon
Keckiella cordifolia

[cordifolia = with heart-shaped leaves]

Poodle-dog bush
Eriodictyon parryi

Scarlet monkeyflower
Mimulus cardinalis

Branching phacelia
Phacelia ramosissima
California goldenrod
Solidago velutina ssp. californica

California everlasting
Pseudognaphalium californicum