Friday, July 19, 2013

Pocket Botany: 1 - Sierra Nevadan Coniferous Woodland

Pocket Botany banner featuring jeans pocket with the word botany on the left upon a field of green with a large rectangle showing three tiger lilies in the sun

Sierra Nevadan Coniferous Woodland
July 2013

The photograph of the Leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum; Jepson, Wikipedia) in the banner for this series was taken during our first Pocket Botany outing. It was a hot, lazy July day just after the Fourth of July and we had driven within 30 minutes of my MIL's excellent dinner.  It wouldn't do to be late!

Around the 3000' mark, we began to feel that the surrounding landscape had a tale to tell us so we pulled off the freeway and onto a side street.

The first thing we saw were the Leopard lilies. They captured the attention of all of us and confirmed that we had come to the right place.  In Southern California, our friends have some land near a prolific stand of enormous Humboldt lilies (Lilium humboldtii; Wikipedia) and this was my initial, erroneous, identification.

Rob says that the Leopard and Humboldt lilies grow in regions which exclude the other species. Besides being much smaller than their cousins to the south, the Leopards grow in what turned out to be a very wet area.  See these amazing algae growing in the rivulet alongside the lilies. Nearby we also found some living fossils!

Horsetails first appeared during the Carboniferous period but during this Holocene excursion we were treated to two different species.  Below is a nice picture of the Equisetum hyemale L.  subsp. affini (Engelm.) (Jepson) we found.  We have yet to identify the second species.

These horsetails were growing in the rivulet and up a slumping bank covered in thorny blackberry brambles.  Naturally, while Rob was taking the picture above, baby BD decided that this was a perfect time and place for a nursing break! You can bet that we will return to this site in a few weeks for some prime blackberry picking and jam making afterwards at grandma and grandpa's house.

Please note the snazzy, geek chic nursingwear I have on:
Caltech sun hat and UH-Manoa SOEST t-shirt

Although we saw a great many excellent plants, including a terrestrial orchid, monkeyflowers and wild carnations, another highlight of our 30 minute pocket botany exploration was running into an old friend I haven't seen for years. We call her The Beautiful One, after the Latin, but her more widely known common name is the Crimson Columbine (Aquilegia formosa; Wikipedia).

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