On stopovers from Monterey and Santa Barbara, he wandered fields and crawled crags for many months in 1830 and 1831. As one of a few highly-educated men for many miles, he was oft-sought as a problem solver, and soon became well respected. No surprise, really - back then botany was heavily steeped in agriculture, and that was, and still is, the soul of the Salinas Valley.
The Indians called him "The Grass Man," and the local Spanish-speaking Californios "Don David El Botánico" - "Don" being their honorary equivalent to "The Dude." He played the jew's harp and loved Madeira wine. I bet he was a blast.
His collecting & introduction-to-cultivation is legendary in botany. Douglas Fir, Sugar Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Big Leaf Maple, California Poppies, Baby Blue Eyes... Over 80 species of plant and animal have "douglas" in their name in his honor.
So, we'll start our April-showers-brings-May-flowers roll call with 2 beauties that Don David collected in the Salinas Valley - Calochortus splendens, the low-key Lilac Mariposa Lily:
And 2 color variants of Calochortus venustus, the Butterfly Mariposa Lily:
As you can see, C. venustus are more patterned and have quite a range. White, pink, dark pink, near red... The upper spots are often missing as well.
In total, there's four species of Calochortus on the ranch, and one - Calochortus simulans - is a rare, endangered, endemic California Native Plant Society List 1B species that looks much like Calochortus venustus. As I strived to get the gestalt of venustus vs. simulans by looking at as many as I could find, I wondered - did Douglas see but not notice C. simulans? Or, did he not make it far enough inland to have to grok the subtleties of the simulator of his varying venus?
Here's that simulator - the La Panza Mariposa Lily, Calochortus simulans:
Here's the 4th Calochortus lily of the fields - the robust Clubhair Mariposa, Calochortus clavatus:
The Chimineas Ranch hosts almost 20 CNPS listed plant species, and aside from C. simulans, several others were in-bloom, such as the List 1B Umbrella Larkspur, Delphinium umbraculorum, and the List 4.2 Gypsum-Loving Larkspur, Delphinium gypsophilum ssp. gypsophilum (the white listed larkspur of the fields and canyon overlooks):
Paso Robles Navarretia, Navarretia jaredii, is a List 4.3 Polemoniaceae Phlox:
And Malacothamnus jonesii, Jone's Bush Mallow, is a List 4.3 Malvaceae:
5 Scrophs were happy with the wet spring, starting with 2 Penstemons:
But also including a big, bright Bush Monkeyflower, Mimulus aurantiacus:
And 2 Chinese House Collinsias that were tucked into lots of nooks and crannies:
A left-over fancy mustard called Prince's Plume was still seen here and there:
A couple more lilies, Golden Stars and Wild Onions, were thick in some canyons:
And a couple more phloxes, Whisker Brush and Flax-Flowered Linanthus, common in fields:
The bluffs and crags are home to a Stonecrop named Lanceleaf Liveforever, Dudleya lanceolata:
While 3 Clarkias of the Evening Primrose Family, Onagraceae, all heralded a farewell-to-spring:
And a true hand-size stunner of the same family, Onagraceae - the beach-loving California Primrose, Oenothera californica - will close the show:
Wonder what'll be out on my next trip? :)
- The California Native Plant Society - CNPS Lists and the CNPS Ranking System
- Richard G. Beidleman, UC Press - California Frontier Naturalists
- Anne B. Fisher - The Salinas Upside Down River
- Wikipedia - David Douglas
- The Nature of a Man (this blog) - Enjoying a Bit of, Um - "Seasonal Wetness"
- The Nature of a Man (this blog) - Flower Faces of Chimineas