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Author Topic: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023  (Read 4031 times)

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2023, 03:52:13 PM »
Hi Thomas

I am very pleased to hear from you. If I understand correctly you were able to attend the recent Czech International Rock Garden Conference. If this is true, very  8) !

Beyond my local region I do not know much about fern species in Western North America, or North America in general. However, we do have many excellent fern species within my study region. I do cultivate or have attempted to cultivate a number of local species in our Sacramento garden.

Here is a synopsis:

Adiantum aleuticum – This species is a gem. I have grown it in our garden for many years. It has preformed extremely well despite the extremely hot summers the last few years. When in growth it always looks great. I even like the drying fronds in the autumn before this species goes dormant.

Adiantum jordanii – I have attempted to grow this low elevation species on several occasions. No success. I have been able to get them started however, they have always died sometime during their summer dormancy never to appear again. I have tried different methods without success: summer dry, summer moist, various soil mixes – nothing has worked to date. At another time I will try again.

Aspidotis californica – This species has persisted in our garden for many years. At its best it is very attractive.

Aspidotis densa – In our region, this species grows over a large altitudinal range and is found growing in many soil types. Despite its range of adaptability in the wild, this species has not been successful in our garden. At the best the plants persist for a few years before dying off. I have attempted to grow this species from a wide range of habitats – low elevation, hot and dry sites to high elevation, much cooler and less summer dry sites. So far nothing has worked well.

Athyrium filix-femina var. cyclosorum – This species is extremely easy-to-grow as long as it is kept moist. Under the right conditions the spores of this species germinate and grow in locations that they like – mostly in containers that have moss and moisture, shade loving plants.

Dryopteris arguta – This fern is moderate in size, but it works well in our garden. It has been very easy-to-grow and is tolerant of moderately dry conditions as well as irrigated sites.

Pellaea andromedifolia – I have attempted to grow this species once without success. Pellaea mucronata thrives in our garden, so maybe this species will be equally easy. I will have to try again.

Pellaea mucronata var. mucronata – The species has been a complete surprise. This dryland fern has thrived in our garden for many years despite receiving summertime irrigation. The gray fronds are especially attractive. I will have to try more when I get a chance.

Pentagramma triangularis ssp. triangularis  - Every attempt to grow this species has failed. I can get the plants started however when they are planted out in the garden they slowly fade away. The species grows on our Placerville property, but then they are native to the site.

Polypodium calirhiza – This fern thrives in our garden as long as it is kept completely dry during its summer dormancy.

Polystichum imbricans ssp. imbricans – I have been able to maintain this species for a number of years, however they have eventually all died off. Maybe in the right location they will live longer?

Polystichum munitum – I grew this species at our Placerville property from spores that highjacked a ride in some pots with Redwood trees grown on my Uncle’s property in Mill Valley, California (in the California coast fog belt). The plants grew well, but clearly did not like the summertime heat. Spider mites destroyed the fronds each season, but the plants always grew back.

Woodwardia fimbriata – I have grown this species in the past. It is very easy-to-grow. This species gets much too large for our Sacramento garden.

Currently, I only get out for field study about once a month. My brother and I hope to get back to Sonora Pass this summer at peak wildflower season – maybe August this year. I am in the process of writing a series of articles for the IRG Journal based on my botanical field notes. If Maggi permits, I will have numerous articles to write and have published. I have already started writing, and it is already clear that the articles will be far more detailed and contain much more information than my outing postings on the Forum.

I hope all is going well in your garden and with your seed growing projects.  8)   :)
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

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Leucogenes

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2023, 10:53:49 AM »
Hello Robert

A thousand thanks for the quick reply. This detailed explanation of your previous experience growing local ferns in your own garden is impressive and informative. I am not familiar with any of these species so far. I must confess, however, that I have just begun to delve into the fascinating world of ferns.

I suppose that there are no sources of supply for the ferns that you have cultivated so far... but also the theoretical knowledge about them is a great enrichment for me.

I would like to integrate especially small-growing ferns in the various rock gardens of my garden. However, there is now also a separate fern bed in the shaded area of the garden...which is lovingly tended by my girl.


I don't know how you know that I was able to attend the conference in the Czech Republic, but you are right. It was great.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank SRGC from the bottom of my heart, who was instrumental in supporting this meeting as an official sponsor.

Otherwise, spring is now showing its arrived side. There are plenty of blooms in the rock garden at the moment. Thereby the North American alpines now take a considerable share... various small Penstemon, Lewisia, Aquilegia and Eriogonum, just to name a few.

Best regards
Thomas

« Last Edit: May 31, 2023, 10:56:29 AM by Leucogenes »

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2023, 04:36:25 PM »
Hi Thomas

I heard about your potential attendance at Czech Conference on the Forum under the heading “Czech conference – who’s going” dated 23 April 2023. I am glad that you were able to attend. I thought that you would enjoy it immensely and it sounds like you did!

I missed a few ferns that I grow in our Sacramento garden.

Polystichum californicum – This fern has done well in our garden once they became well established. In the wild, I have always found them growing in near hydric conditions. Needless to say we need to make sure this species receives extra water during the summer.

Cryptogramma acrostichoides – I have never cultivated this high elevation rock fern. It is very common and I see them frequently on my high elevation outings.

Cryptogramma cascadensis – My one attempt at growing this species failed. It is much like Cryptogramma acrostichoides, but with some important differences. I have always found this species at very high altitudes in our region in sites where there is plenty of moisture at all times. Cryptograma acrostichoides has a strong preference for much drier sites.

Struthiopteris (Blechnum) spicant – There is a disjunct population of this species in our area. It is interesting that I often find this species growing with Lilium parvum var. hallidayi. I have never grown this species in our Sacramento garden, however it seems to be available in the specialty nursery trade.

The notes on the ferns in our Sacramento garden are very brief. It would require a complete article to discuss my experiences and field observations of these ferns in detail. You did recommend that I grow some of these ferns in our garden, thus a brief discussion of my results to date.

I have to admit that I am not the right person to ask where to find these ferns, spores or plants. I am not much of a shopper. The world economy would collapse immediately if everyone shopped like me. I think that there is a Fern Society. I am not sure, but I am sure that there are people on the Forum that have this answer. Where to find these ferns is likely available on the Forum too. For more information on fern species that are found in California can be found at calflora.org. They do have a plant finder on Calflora. I have never used it and have to admit that I am skeptical of such things. The ferns that we grow in our garden are not rare, so you will likely find a source, maybe even close by in Europe.

Currently the weather is very cool here in our part of California. Hot weather will likely arrive soon. This year I have a good crop of Trifolium longipes ssp. atrobens coming along. Hopefully some will survive the summer and this perennial species will eventually become established in our garden. Trifolium monanthum ssp. monanthum from the Ebbetts Pass region is also coming along well. I am very excited that the high elevation species Hypericum anagalloides is doing well too. This species survived the 115 F (46.1 C) heat wave last summer! This seed accession came from a site I call Paradise Meadow. I first visited this meadow back about 1970. The Hypericum plants from this site have a depth of meaning for me. I am glad that they are both thriving and blooming continuously this spring.

I am happy that all seems like it is going well for you. Good luck with your ferns.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Leucogenes

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2023, 05:00:00 PM »
Oh that's right...I had completely forgotten my brief comment about attending the conference...I'm a fool. 🙈

Glad to hear that apparently everything is to your satisfaction as well. I will continue to follow your posts from the wilderness closely.... Promise. ✌️

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2023, 05:44:16 PM »
Hi Thomas,

I will keep reporting whenever I have an opportunity to get out and do field work.

Your NOT a fool!

We all make learning mistakes. In my world without learning mistakes, we are not learning - we are just going nowhere! Creative thinking requires the risk of making mistakes but also opens the door to completely new insights. Michael Faraday was intensely criticized by the academics of his time period. How fortunate we are that we did not continue on that line of thinking, that light flowed through the ether and action at a distance, something Newton was not comfortable with. How fortunate we are that the young mathematician James Clerk Maxwell demonstrated Faraday's ideas mathematically, and Heinrich Hertz proved many of Faraday's findings.

We are all making contributions toward a better understanding of horticulture and the plants we grow. I cannot think of anything better.  :)
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2023, 07:48:55 PM »


I am currently preparing myself for a trip to the Sonora Pass region of California during September.



We almost always use the Monitor Pass route to get to Sonora Pass. The east side (Sierra Nevada Mountains) plant communities are extremely fascinating. There is something always something new to see.

I am hoping to return to Iceland Lake near Sonora Pass. The last time I visited Iceland Lake was in 1973. This is from a pre camera era for me, so no photographs from this exceptional place at this time. The flora from this region is extraordinary, so I am definitely looking forward to this trip.



Common Rabbitbush, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus ssp. viscidiflorus
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #21 on: September 20, 2023, 05:16:29 PM »


I have arrived home from my last outing to the Sonora Pass, Iceland Lake, Monitor Pass regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.



The east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is arid and the landscape looks barren, however the region can be rich in native flora, including choice alpine/rock garden species, if one knows where to go and where to look, especially if one is willing to hike long distances into remote regions. Currently, I am computerizing decades of botanical field notes and data from these regions. As time permits, I will have a great deal of information to share concerning the flora of both the Sonora Pass Region and Monitor Pass region.



One of the highlights of the trip was the discovery of an exceptional colony of Penstemon rostriflorus. Weather related issues from the remnants of Hurricane Hillary and other intense thunderstorm activity hampered some of my efforts, however the trip as a whole was extremely successful.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2023, 08:47:43 PM »
On 14 September 2023 I had the opportunity to visit the Sonora Pass and Monitor Pass regions of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. I am fortunate to live close to these high mountain passes. I have been visiting these sites since my father introduced me, as a young child, to mountains in the 1950’s. Both regions are floristically rich. Within relatively short distances it is possible to observe species from the Arctic-Alpine, Hudsonian, Canadian, and High Desert Great Basin Life Zones of California. It is not unusual to see mixtures of species from the various life zones together and occasionally growing side-by-side in combinations not normally seen in other parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.



I started this outing on the west side of the Sierra Crest at Kennedy Meadows. Kennedy Meadows is an old resort--of sorts--located in a deep canyon on the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River.

During the 1930’s my father, as a teenager, would visit this area to tent camp and hike in the surrounding mountains. Back then; the steep mountain road over Sonora Pass was a narrow gravel road. The only gear low enough to power my father’s Model-T Ford over Sonora Pass was reverse, so he backed the Model-T over Sonora Pass. There were no bridges over the many streams, so he drove through the fords hoping he did not get stuck in mid-stream and have the engine stall-out. On the down grades, the mechanical brake rods would bend making the brakes, more or less, ineffective. To slow the Model-T, the transmission was forced into reverse to slow it and to keep it from careening down the Pass out-of-control.

Needless to say, things have changes dramatically since the 1930’s. The road over Sonora Pass is still very steep and narrow, however it is now paved. The Kennedy Meadows resort is still quaint, but crowded with visitors every summer.



Fortunately crowds are not an issue on the trails: the mountain trails into the surrounding wilderness quickly become very steep and difficult except for fit hikers.



As on hikes higher into the surrounding mountains, the slow pace of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River quickly accelerates as it cascades through the steepening canyon. The river level was unusually high for mid-September.



The recent heavy rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Hillary as well as ongoing heavy rainfall from monsoonal type moisture has kept the regional vegetation quite green and the streams flowing at uncommonly high levels.



Autumn is the season for Rabbitbrush, Chrysothamnus, and many of its allies in the Genus Ericameria to bloom. Pictured is Chrysothmnus viscidiflorus ssp. viscidiflorus blooming in the Canyon of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River at an elevation of 6,214 feet (1,894 meters). Rabbitbrush is strongly associated with High Desert habitats east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade crest in Western North America. In the Sierra Nevada, especially the Northern Sierra Nevada, it is unusual to find Chrysothemnus viscidiflorus growing at this elevation on the west side of the Sierra Nevada crest.

Four subspecies of Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus can be found in California, all four of which can be found in Mono County on the east side of Sonora Pass. If one includes the Genus Ericameria the number of species and subspecies climbs quickly. The richness of the flora in this region makes botany extremely interesting and rewarding. From a horticultural perspective, the genetic variability within each species and subspecies is immensely detailed and fascinating. From this viewpoint, there are infinite possibilities for the discovery and creation of desirable new plants for horticulture.
 
The very ruggedness of off trail exploration is as daunting and difficult as any encountered by the early plant explorers, or even Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on Mount Everest. There are numerous rock faces and crevices, with steep precipices—rich with amazing plant life, yet full of hazardous slippery screes and ledges where the slightest movement might end in a lethal fall into the steep void of a vertical cliff face, or a foot twisted and caught in some rocky crevice as the body slides toward the precipice.

At one point I climbed from the shore of Relief Reservoir one thousand vertical feet to the top of a ridge just to find the main trail. On most of the steep incline I was able to traverse, zig-zag along, yet there were many areas where it was necessary to climb over a vertical rock face with my fingers and toes hooking into narrow crevices. This is not the easiest area to botanize; however it is extremely rewarding. I can tell you this now, but I think if my precious wife had known what I was doing, she would have been praying and fretting even more. These experiences give one a greater appreciation for the origins of the plants and seeds we cultivate in our gardens.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Maggi Young

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #23 on: September 23, 2023, 12:31:42 PM »
My word, what hair-raising tales of your Father's travels in his model T Ford! Not my idea of relaxing travel.
Margaret Young in Aberdeen, North East Scotland Zone 7 -ish!

Editor: International Rock Gardener e-magazine

Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #24 on: September 23, 2023, 08:22:24 PM »
Hi Maggi,

I was well known as an oral storyteller since I was in High School (early 1970’s). I remember my father telling me stories about West Winds Farm in Brentwood, California – the farm my grandfather worked during the Great Depression. There were also many stories about the Sierra Nevada Mountains.



The cabin on the right is our mountain cabin in Calpine, California, on the edge of Sierra Valley. There is a whole series of stories surrounding my grandfather’s acquisition of this cabin during the Great Depression.

The whole region is an excellent place for field botany. I am already planning trips for next year. It might be a great place to visit for botany.



This is a picture of our mountain cabin near Gerle Creek. Construction took place during the mid-1960’s. This is the basis of my “Out the back door of the Cabin” series of botanical articles (maybe more like a book). The cabin was a great base camp for much of my botanical activity during the 1970’s and 1980’s. There are so many great places to visit of botanical interest and all within walking distance or only a few minutes away by auto. We spent most of each summer at this cabin. Needless to say, I was immersed in the native plants everyday each summer for decades and grew to know the plants and their habitats intimately. There are some great stories to tell! --All exclusively on the SRGC Forum or through the SRGC – whatever might work best.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2023, 08:26:03 PM »


The base camp for this journey was located in an open mixed coniferous forest at an elevation of 6,290 feet (1,917 meters). White Fir (Abies concolor) and Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) were the dominant species with an occasional specimen of Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi) or Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) (pictured).

The original goal of this outing was to explore the Iceland Lake area in the arctic-alpine Life Zone near Granite Dome, elevation 10,320 feet (3,146 meters). Iceland Lake is 6.5 miles (10.46 km) from the Kennedy Meadows trailhead, however there is a 3,500 foot (1,067 meters) elevation gain to get there. The last time I visited Iceland Lake was in 1973. I was soon to find out that some important details had changed during this period of time.



The lower story vegetation at the base camp was fairly sparse with widely scattered stands of Squirrel Tail Grass (Elymus elymoides var. elymoides) and California Needle Grass (Stipa occidentalis var. californica) (pictured). Where the soil retained more moisture, Mountain Needle Grass (Stipa nelsonii var. dorei) was prevalent. Most of the scattered lower story shrubbery consisted of Greenleaf Manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula), Huckleberry Oak (Quercus vacciniifolia), Mountain Whitethorn (Ceanothus cordulatus), and Mountain Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentate ssp. vaseyana).



A limited number of perennial species were growing in dispersed stands throughout the open sunny expanses of bare mineral soil surrounding the coniferous trees. Hoary Aster (Dieteria canescens var. canescens) was throwing some off-season flowers.

Nude Buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum var. nudum) was also seen with their upright scapes of off-white flowers. As I proceeded up into higher terrain Eriogonum nudum var. nudum transitioned to Eriogonum nudum var. deductum. There is not a clear delineation between these two varieties. In general, as one gains altitude the plants become smaller and fit better into the classification of variety deductum. Interestingly, the smaller plants retain this characteristic in cultivation; thus the tiny forms of variety deductum remain tiny in cultivation and the slightly larger forms of variety deductum will retain their somewhat taller stature.



As I proceeded up the trail toward Relief Reservoir, the bright red flowers of the autumn blooming California Fuchsia, Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium, began to appear throughout the canyon landscape. There is considerable genetic variation in the flowering ability within this subspecies. Good forms of this subspecies can be extremely floriferous with a prolonged blooming cycle from late summer and though the autumn months.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #26 on: September 24, 2023, 09:54:41 PM »


The trail to Relief Reservoir becomes increasingly steep as the walls of the canyon narrow.



Eriogonum species become numerous in this rocky, dry terrain. Perhaps because of the abundant late season rainfall, many specimens of Eriogonum umbellatum var. covillei were still producing a few flower clusters. At lower elevations this variety frequently has a more open habit of growth; however near the limit of its altitude range the plants are generally very dense and compact. This dense growth habit is maintained in cultivation, such as in our Sacramento garden.



Eriogonum wrightii var. subscaposum grows abundantly in this region. Throughout its range in the Sierra Nevada Mountains this variety has a somewhat open habit of growth. Plants growing in our Sacramento garden maintain this growth habitat and are extremely easy-to-grow and long lived. High elevation forms of this variety, such as those found growing near Carson Pass, are very compact and make very tight buns. The forms from the Carson Pass region maintain this growth habit in our Sacramento garden; however they are much more difficult to maintain.



A number of Chaenactis species grow in this region. Without flowers it is difficult to make a definitive identification to the species level.



Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius var. ledifolius) is generally associated with habitats on the east side of the Sierra Nevada crest. For example, when exploring the upper canyon of the South Fork of the San Joaquin River above Florence Lake in the Southern Sierra Nevada I never encountered this species. Along one section of the trail a number of very old specimens grew with striking gnarled twisted trunks. The twisted appendages to the fruit are conspicuous in the autumn and are reminiscent of those found on Geraniums and Erodiums; however Cercocarpus is a member of the Rosaceae family.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
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If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #27 on: September 25, 2023, 07:32:54 PM »


Due to the above average snow pack during the past winter and the exceptionally wet summer the local streams which would normally flow at a trickle this time of year were raging cascades of runoff. In some locations the stream flow was dark brown with erosion sediments.



Fortunately on the main trail there were strong, well constructed bridges over the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River and the major feeder streams. Crossing these feeder streams on foot without a bridge would be extremely treacherous.



At one point I approached a tall north facing cliff face. Here I found large colonies of Pink Alumroot, Heuchera rubescens covering much of the rock face. All the crevices were filled with Alumroot. At times the Heuchera shared space with Sierra Stonecrop, Sedum obtusatum.  {[Jasmin]:  This is my favorite Heuchera}



The best find of the day was Penstemon rostriflorus. Many of the plants were still in full bloom with their glowing red flowers. There were a number of exceptional plants that were markedly more compact and floriferous than most plants of this species that I have observed in the past.



As I climbed in elevation many plant species became smaller in stature. Near 7,000 feet (2,134 meters) Mountain Sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana (pictured) grew as a low compact plant. High elevation accessions of this subspecies retain this characteristic in our low elevation Sacramento garden and make very desirable plants for our rock garden.

At least 7 species and varieties of Artemisia can be found in this region. Another very desirable species found in this area at much higher elevations is Low Sagebrush, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. arbuscula. This species grows much smaller than the smallest forms of Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata. This species too has proven to be easy-to-grow and long lived in our Sacramento garden. Both species have very attractive silvery foliage during the growing season.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
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Robert

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2023, 06:52:03 PM »


As I hiked higher into the mountains, colonies of Western Mugwort, Artemisia ludaviciana ssp. incompta were seen with increased frequency. Silver Wormwood, Artemisia ludaviciana ssp. ludaviciana, is also seen in this region; however subspecies ludaviciana is primarily a species of the eastern side of the Sierra crest and is generally found at lower elevations. The adaxial leaf surface of subspecies incompta is distinctively green; the leaves of subspecies ludaviciana are very gray in color. Artemisia ludaviciana ssp. incompta has proven to be a very amenable species in our Sacramento garden, preforming well in ordinary garden soil and tolerant of summer time irrigation.



In addition, as I gained altitude Juniperus grandis quickly replaced Juniperus occidentalis as the dominant Juniper species. The massive stature and reddish bark of Juniperus grandis is a very distinctive characteristic of this species. Over the years I have noted that many of the coniferous tree species on the western slope of the Sonora Pass region have bark that is of a much deeper red color than the same species in other parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The geology in the Sonora Pass region is certainly unique and may play a role in this distinct bark coloration. The geology of the Sonora Pass region is very influential in the significant diversity of plant species found in this region.



Soon I arrived at Relief Reservoir. The last time I visited Relief Reservoir was in 1973. My memory of the trail route failed me or a new trail route was created; quickly I found myself traversing the shore of the reservoir with no trail at all. The botany was interesting so I continued southward near the eastern shore. Progress was very slow and I soon realized there would not be time for me to arrive at Iceland Lake before dark unless I found the main tail again. The most practical route was up. In this area the canyon walls down to the reservoir were extremely steep with many vertical cliff faces that needed to be avoided if possible. I traversed my way upward avoiding the need to scale the largest and tallest of the cliff faces. The botany was fascinating. I was in a unique position to observe plants at ground level without having to leave my upright position! At 68 I am still a strong hiker so it was not long before I scaled 1,000 vertical feet (305 meters) and found the main trail. I certainly wanted to botanize in the Arctic-Alpine Life Zone so I decided to return to my auto and drive to Sonora Pass and botanize there.



The weather was changing and the cumulus clouds were building. By the time I arrived at Sonora Pass the clouds were dark and threatening.



I proceeded up the trail from Sonora Pass (elevation 9,624 feet {2,933 meters}) toward sites that I had studied a number of times in the last few years. There were target plant species that I wished to document in more detail. It quickly became apparent that weather conditions over the last month had strongly impacted the area. Indications of significant erosion were everywhere. Most of the smaller perennial species were bashed and battered.
Robert Barnard
Sacramento & Placerville, Northern California, U.S.A.
All text and photos © Robert Barnard

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him stepto the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
- Henry David Thoreau

MarcR

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Re: Plants, Ecosystems, Climate - Northern California 2023
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2023, 10:25:02 PM »
Robert,

I really enjoy your descriptions.  You are doing things I used to enjoy when both legs worked as they were meant to work.
Marc Rosenblum

Falls City, OR USA

I am in USDA zone 8b where temperatures almost never fall below 15F -9.4C.  Rainfall 50" 110 cm + but none  June-September.  We seldom get snow; but when it comes we get 30" overnight. Soil is sandy loam with a lot of humus. 
Oregon- where Dallas is NNW of Phoenix

 


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