Photographs by Michael Charters

This was the second of my two Jepson trips to the Tejon Ranch, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to visit this fantastic place. It is a majestic landscape of canyons and mountains, 90% of which will be preserved in perpetuity as a result of the agreement made between ranch and environmental groups. The sheer scale of the ranch's size almost boggles the imagination, with its 270,000 acres stretching from the San Joaquin Valley to the Antelope Valley and criss-crossed by at least a thousand, possibly two thousand, miles of ranch roads. An elevational gradient of 6,000', a dizzying complexity of soil types and substrates, innumerable and varied habitats, and the fortuitous conjunction of four floristic regions, allow for the presence of around 1,000 species of plants, new taxa of which continue to be found and recorded, and many of which are rare. It was our good fortune to have as our workshop leaders Neal Kramer who has been working on the flora of the ranch for the past seven years and Dr. Maynard Moe of CSU Bakersfield, author of Flora of Kern County, as well as Dr. Mike White, Conservation Science Director for the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, and Scot Pipkin, the Conservancy's Public Access Manager, both of whom shared with us a great deal of interesting and valuable information on a great range of subjects relating to the ranch. We were also extremely fortunate in that although leading up to this past weekend, there was some possibility that the workshop would have to be cancelled due to rain, the weather turned out to be absolutely glorious.

I want to emphasize that the Tejon Ranch is private property, and that anyone seeking to visit there should respect that and should do it under the auspices of the Conservancy's public access program. The relationship between ranch, Conservancy and the public is still in the process of being worked out, and it would be regrettable if anyone jeopardized that by trying to enter the ranch without proper authority. Click here for the Conservancy's website and here for a video about the ranch. The symbol ^ next to the common name is for a taxon that was new to me when I photographed it on this field trip, and an asterisk denotes a non-native taxon.

NOTE: As of December 2018, the Tejon Ranch management has banned the California Plant Society and associated botanical organizations such as Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the Eriogonum Society and possibly also the Jepson Herbarium from their previously allowed visits to the ranch, due to public opposition to the Centennial Project, a project which Los Angeles County has yet to finally accept and which if finalized will create a 19,000-home community on the Antelope Valley side, a gigantic developed footprint of enormous financial value to the ranch but one where the threat of fire, the enormous consumption of water, and the impact of tens of thousands of vehicles are obviously of great concern. It appears that for the moment at least, the ranch's participation in further botanical endeavors seems at an end, and it sadly remains to be seen whether it will ever be revitalized.

Calico monkeyflower ^
Mimulus pictus
[pictus = painted, brightly colored]

Bentham lupine, Spider lupine
Lupinus benthamii
[Named for English botanist George Bentham. 1800-1884]

Caterpillar phacelia
Phacelia cicutaria var. cicutaria

Globe gilia
Gilia capitata

Purple owl's clover
Castilleja exserta ssp. exserta
Bird's-eye gilia
Gilia tricolor

Bigelow's spike-moss
Selaginella bigelovii
  Strigose lotus
Acmispon strigosus

Eastwood's fiddleneck ^
Amsinckia eastwoodiae
[Named for Alice Eastwood, 1859-1953]

Miniature lupine, Bicolored lupine
Lupinus bicolor

Rusty-haired popcorn flower
Plagiobothrys nothofulvus

California poppy
Eschscholzia californica

Small-head field clover
Trifolium microcephalum
Long-beaked storksbill *
Erodium botrys


Copyright © 2016 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.