Thursday, October 20, 2011

In the Lands of the Mono

On the east side of the Sierra Nevada, in the lands of the Mono, I've also seen some incredible flora while surveying this past spring and summer.

The area overlaps 2 floristic provinces: Sierra Nevada and Great Basin. The Sierra flora is familiar to me, as are the Great Basin plants that also occur in the Mojave. But the GB species that flow in from Nevada, and just touch CA - those I have no experience seeing or IDing.

Which is a big part of the fun.

Unfortunately, I haven't yet found a local guide like Ernest, so I'm stumbling along with the help of friends, Jepson and the intertubes.

Which can also be fun.

But before the flora, a few photos of the lands and habitats...

lower valley
Looking east, and out of the little Mono Basin valley - altitude is just under 7,000 feet

upper valley
Looking west, up the valley and towards the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite

mountain view   white mountains
Habitats include ponds, creeks, wetlands, and sagebrush scrub

flowered fields   wet grasslands
And wet mountain meadows bordered by rocky, volcanic rims

aspens   pinyon moon
Aspens and willows wrap the waterways, and pinyon pines pepper the ridges

rocks   face?   rocks
Where many of the rocks and outcrops are as spectacular as the plants

Now on to this season's flora, which included over 120 found species. Of those, about 50 were new to me, along with 8 new genera.

And, while most species I/we could key and ID, there are still a number of uncertainties on the list. I just don't like to call an ID on unfamiliar flora until I feel there's no other options, or a plant geek who really knows the species gives me a solid confirmation.

And even then, I still make mistakes. All botanists do. Plants can be highly variable, and all keys are not created equal.

So, if you see a pretty below that I might not have right - give a shout.

Otherwise - on with the show...

so swertia
The crazy cool Inyo Green Gentian, Swertia puberulenta

the big blaze
Giant Blazing Star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, with 4" diameter flowers

shockley's primrose
A pink Camissonia - Shockley's Evening Primrose, Camissonia heterochroma

bridge's penstemon
Beaked Penstemon, Penstemon rostriflorus, a hummingbird fave

gentianopsis holopetala
Sierra Gentian, Gentianopsis holopetala, the purple polka-dots of wet mtn meadows

masses of miniata
Masses of Castilleja miniata, Giant Red Paintbrush, parasitizing willows

orthocarpus luteus
Yellow Owl's Clover, Orthocarpus luteus

flat top broomrape
Flat Top Broomrape, Orobanche corymbosa, parasitizing sage and rabbitbrush

Wavyleaf Thelypodium, Thelypodium crispum, a mustard that looks lily-like

Transmontane Sand Verbena, Abronia turbinata

oh - it's just nanus  ;)
The popping pink Dwarf Monkeyflower, Mimulus nanus

prickly poppy
Prickly Poppy, Argemone munita

Lanceleaf Browneyes, Camissonia claviformis ssp. lancifolia

And, as before, I'll finish with a shotgun blast of 17 more fine species:

western blueflag  big grass  ranger's buttons
Western Blue Flag Iris, Great Basin Rye, and Ranger's Buttons

prim monkeys  alpine dodec  chamaebatiaria
Primrose Monkeyflowers, Alpine Shooting Stars, and Desert Fernbush

elk thistle  hairy and wild  yellow popcorn
Elk Thistle, Hairy Wild Cabbage, and Yellow Popcornflower

eriastrum wilcoxii  brewer's cinq  jacob's ladder
Wilcox's Woollystar, Brewer's Cinqfoil, and Jacob's Ladder

parnassia  bog mallow  clustered blazingstar
Grass of Parnassus, Bog Mallow, and Clustered Blazing Star

tansyleaf eve primrose  two color
Tansyleaf Suncup and Two-colored Phacelia

What a place.

Can't wait to start scouring it again next spring.



  1. The late Durham Giuliani would have been the perfect guide. He lived in the area for decades.

  2. spectacular. the first freaky flower reminds me of the blooms on a corn lily.

    Great point re: ID errors happen. Yup! Better than not trying. =)

  3. That blazing star must sure be a sight in the field. It's lovely as a photo.

  4. Seeing all that rabbitbrush in bloom in the sagebrush area brings back fond memories of my visits to the area and finding Crossidius longhorned beetles on the flowers.

  5. I'm excited to find your blog! We share a common love. My husband and I have 80 acres at this site. We are on the creek in the middle of your first photo. We love to see the animals and plants change with the seasons. Right now it's Rabbitbush, Pinyon jays, and the last of the asters. Last week we rescued a lost ram that had been separated from the herder for almost a month. It's a miracle that he didn't become lunch for the mountain lions in the area.


Please leave a comment, thought or question at any time.