Michael Hawk, the creator of Nature’s Archive, featured Michael Kauffmann a few weeks back. They discussed the many things that make conifers such an amazing group of plants including their evolutionary history, what makes them different from other trees, and gives us a special look at the amazing diversity of conifers in his area – the Klamath region of far northern California. This deep dive reveals many interesting ecological processes that likely can be generalized to other regions and other plants. It’s truly fascinating.Continue Reading
Magnificent Five-needle Pines of Western North America
How well do you know them? Take a “quiz” to test your knowledge about this amazing group of pines!
Our upcoming 2-part webinar will explore the natural history of six closely related five-needle pines of western North America, and dive into the amazing factoids mentioned below in the “quiz.” Here’s what we have in store for you:
- Part 1 on 12/9: Intro to conifers, intro to pines, sugar pine, and whitebark pine
- Part 2 on 12/16: Limber pine, bristlecone pine, foxtail pines, and 5-needle pine conservation
Giving Back: 50% of your $15 class registration fee is being donated to the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation, a science-based non-profit dedicated to counteracting the widespread decline of all 5-needle pines throughout the Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest, and Northern Sierra Nevada.
Are you ready? Here’s your quiz…Continue Reading
Sticky trap carnivory discovered in western false asphodel (Triantha occidentalis)
The botanical world is being rocked by a new lineage of carnivorous plants described by Qianshi Lin et al. (August 2021)! Previous to this discovery scientists have recognized only 11 independent origins of plant carnivory—and now there is a 12th. This cryptic carnivore secretes a digestive enzyme from its annual flower stalk to supplement upwards of 2/3 of its diet.
Carnivorous plants have adapted to grow in places where nutrients are deficient. In western North America this often means peatland bogs. While carnivorous plants generate some energy from photosynthesis they supplement by trapping and consuming animals like insects and other arthropods.Continue Reading
Wildflowers of California’s Klamath Mountains
Including the Marble Mountain, Russian, and Trinity Alps Wilderness areas
Wildflowers of California’s Klamath Mountains features flowering plants found within one of the most biodiverse temperate mountain ranges on Earth. This photographic collection is representative of the most common, beautiful, and unique plants across this amazing region.
• 629 species, subspecies, and varieties of wildflowers
• Over 800 full color images organized by flower color
• Localized, detailed species descriptions
• Destinations to find flowers throughout the year
The Klamath Mountains are a fascinating and botanically diverse area situated at the the crossroads of the Coast Range, Modoc Plateau, Sacramento Valley, Cascade Range, and Sierra Nevada the Klamath Mountains and hold representative species from each. Combine that with their attendant geology, topography, and climate, and the floristic diversity is second to none for a temperate region.
Botanical Tales of the Pacific Crest Trail
The Making of a “Super-Naturalist”
by Matt Berger
Over two PCT thru hikes I took tens of thousands of plant photos, figured out each plants’ identity, and uploaded these observations to citizen science websites. Getting to this point was a process that I took one step a time. Now, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with others who walk in these same steps along the PCT and are wondering what all the plants are along the way – the tall and the small, the showy and the “wallflowers,” the commonplace and the rare. Let me share a bit with you about how I got here…Continue Reading
Late Summer Wildflowers
Of The Klamath Mountains
The Klamath Mountains are vast and encompass many ecological zones and elevations. Geology, ranges in altitude, and variable weather conditions make the region variable for wildflower blooms depending on species and region. Wildflower season can begin as early as mid-December in the lower elevations and continue into late October or even November in the high country.Continue Reading
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Hiking and wildflower adventures
Description: Located on a bend in the Van Duzen River, Owen R. Cheatham Grove is a majestic patch of old growth redwoods spared by the founder of what would become the Georgia-Pacific Plywood and Lumber Company. The short hike loops through the grove. From the west side of the parking area two trails lead across the riverbed to the Van Duzen River. Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park offers a small network of trails on the north and south side of the Van Duzen River. A summer bridge crosses the Van Duzen to 1.5 miles of additional trails on the south side. The north side trails include a nature trail with interpretive signs, a meandering walk up and down the hillside east of Grizzly Creek, and a stretch of trail west of Grizzly Creek.
Obligate & Facultative Seeding Manzanitas
Last weekend, I hiked in Trinity County along a low-elevation, fire-prone section of the Bigfoot Trail between Highway 3 and Hayfork and was able to witness obligate & facultative seeding in action.
From Field Guide to Manzanitas, Backcountry Press, 2012
One-third of manzanita species are facultative seeders. These are species that regenerate post-fire by both seed and burl resprouting. The remainder are obligate seeders that lose their entire adult population in a fire and depend on a seed bank for regeneration. Obligate seeding is the current model in manzanita evolution.
To understand why, consider the climatic dynamics over thousands, or tens of thousands of years or more. In the case of the resprouting species, particular individuals can live for centuries, resprouting over and over, cloning new individuals as the burls expand with each fire cycle. But in that population, the rate of genetic change is limited, because most individuals live a long time by way of asexual reproduction. This suggests that populations may be unable to respond to rapid climatic changes that might occur in only hundreds of years. The obligate seeders, on the other hand, lose all adults in stand-replacing fires and new post-fire generations have to establish from more genetically diverse seeds. Those populations consequently have greater flexibility to shift and adjust as circumstances require; traits that might have been rare and less important in older generations can emerge through natural selection and become critical in the newer generations within the lifetime of resprouting manzanitas.
Much of this area burned in the summer of 2015. While evidence of the fires were everywhere, there are many signs of the next generation of plants returning to the landscape. This was particularly true on some of the south-facing slopes above Philpot Campground where two species of manzanitas were exploring different reproductive regimes– both obligate & facultative seeding.
West’s Best Fall Hikes
Quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides) in the Blackrock-High Rock Desert.
Fall in the West
A time of rejuvenation. With the shift of the California Current, rains begin to fall in California after a summer of drought. The high country along the Pacific Slope finds snow returning. While we retreat inside our homes, native plants and animals must adjust to the changes. Some birds migrate, mammals might hibernate, and some plants shed their leaves and “hibernate” for winter in their own way.
What follows is a journey across the Pacific Slope to four locations that are excellent for viewing fall color.
- Siskiyou Wilderness
- Pasayten Wilderness
- San Gabriel River National Monument
- Blackrock-High Rock Desert National Conservation Area
I’ll start by admitting that my son’s middle name is Siskiyou. This wilderness was my first destination upon moving to Humboldt County and I’ve been back many times since–and learned something new each trip. The wilderness represents the mystery and intrigue of Conifer Country and holds within its boundaries at least 16 species of conifers – making it second to the Russian Wilderness in diversity within the Klamath Mountains. A few other regional highlights include the success story of the GO Road, the epic Bigfoot Trail along the crest, and a stay at Bear Basin Butte on the edge of the wilderness. Once you visit, you will never forget this place.
- Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
- Vine maple (Acer circinatum)
- Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
- Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata)
- Dwarf huckleberry (Vaccinium caespitosum var. caespitosum)
- Cascade bilberry (Vaccinium deliciosum)
- Blue or thin-leaved huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum)
The alpine tundra of the Pasayten Wilderness is characterized by small hummocks decorated with diminutive heaths and grasses with the much taller conifers surviving on only the fringes of this landscape. Subalpine larch (Larix lyallii) has a range restricted to the North Cascades and Northern Rockies where they are locally common on exposed rocky areas as well as pioneers on disturbed sites and more recently in snowfields.
- Alpine Bearberry (Arctous alpinus)
- Creeping dogwood (Cornus canadensis)
- Subalpine larch (Larix lyallii)
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument
The 346,177 acre San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was dedicated in October 2014 by a proclamation by President Obama after nearly 10 years of work to get it established. It contains the Sheep Mountain Wilderness, the San Gabriel Wilderness, and Pleasant View Ridge Wilderness as well as most of the major peaks including Mount San Antonio, Mount Baden-Powell, and Throop Peak.
- Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
- Black oak (Quercus kelloggii)
Blackrock Desert-High Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Want to visit a newly-designated wilderness area in the llitteral middle-of-nowhere? Then the Pine Forest Range is the place for you. Nearby is Nevada’s Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area with loads of places to adventure. There are only a few plants that grow to any noticeable height, including rare conifers and the iconic quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) which offers epic fall color.
- Quaking aspens (Populus tremuloides)