Category Archives: Bodie Hills

The More You Look, The More You Find: Additions to the Bodie Hills Flora

Gilia brecciarum

Gilia brecciarum

One of the guiding principles for any floristic survey (looking for all the plants that occur in an area) is that the more time you spend looking, the more different things you are likely to find. Corollary to this is that the more people who look and the more different habitats they all explore, the more kinds of plants will turn up. (The same principle holds for faunal surveys as well.)

Mimulus breweri

Mimulus breweri

This is part of the excitement and the lure for people interested in exploring and documenting biodiversity: the job is never done. There’s always something else to find.

When I first surveyed the Bodie Hills in the early 1980s, my main source of information was my own collections (during three summers) plus some records in the California Natural Diversity Database, a few mentions in botanical books and journal articles, and correspondence with a few other botanists making occasional visits to the area.

Cymopterus purpurascens

Cymopterus purpurascens

Since then, my “search intensity” has expanded greatly through hundreds of specimen collection records, some dating back many decades, that have become available on the internet. The main sources for these have been the Consortium of California Herbaria (CCH), Calflora, and the Intermountain Regional Herbarium Network (IRHN). The internet has also provided access to other floristic studies, plant lists, environmental studies, and resource management plans, all with lists of species seen or collected in parts of the Bodie Hills.

Recently, and especially in the last year, additions to the Bodie Hills flora have come to light through (1) generous sharing of collection data by Ann Howald, who is compiling a flora for all of Mono County, (2) last year’s collection data on CCH from Jim Andre, and (3) observations posted by several keen observers to iNaturalist.

Kelloggia galioides

Kelloggia galioides

Here, then, is a list of 27 additions to the Bodie Hills flora that have come to my attention in just the last six months, since the release of the January 2018 edition. Additional details, including sources for each find, are in a 3-page PDF you can download from the Downloads page.


Cymopterus purpurascens. Widewing springparsley. Northeast edge of Bodie Hills.
Perideridia parishii subsp. latifolia Wide-leaved Parish’s yampah. Cottonwood Canyon Rd., south of Bodie.
Sium suave. Hemlock waterparsnip. Bridgeport Valley and Bridgeport.

Antennaria rosea  ssp. confinis. Rosy pussytoes. Upper Rough Creek drainage.
Arnica longifolia. Spearleaf arnica. Rough Creek near Geiger Grade and meadow in saddle between Bodie Mountain and Potato Peak.
Chaenactis xantiana. Fleshy Pincushion. Lower Rough Creek, southwest of Nine Mile Ranch.
Dieteria canescens var. leucanthemifolia. Hoary-aster. Near Geiger Grade, north of Bodie; upper Rough Creek drainage.
Erigeron divergens Spreading fleabane. Hwy 270 at Cinnabar Canyon.

Cryptantha glomeriflora. Cluster-flowered cryptantha. Upper Rough Creek drainage near Potato Peak.
Cryptantha mohavensis Mojave cryptantha. Ridge on south side of Aurora Canyon.
Cryptantha pterocarya var. purpusii. Wingnut cryptantha. Cottonwood Canyon Rd, south of Bodie, white sandy ash.
Plagiobothrys kingii var. kingii. Southern great basin popcornflower. Hwy 270 at Cinnabar Canyon.

Chorispora tenella. Purple mustard, Crossflower. Disturbed areas, near East Walker River; Mono Basin near Conway Grade.
Descurainia nelsonii. Nelson’s Tansy-mustard. Hwy 270 at Cinnabar Canyon.

Lupinus argenteus var. montigenus. Silvery lupine. East side of Potato Peak.

Erodium cicutarium. Redstem filaree. Near East Walker River; Mormon Meadow.

Abronia turbinata. White sand verbena. Beside NF-028 in Fletcher Valley.

Mimulus breweri. Brewer’s monkeyflower. Upper Rough Creek drainage near Potato Peak.

Gilia brecciarum subsp. brecciarum. Nevada gilia. Between Masonic Mountain and New York Hill.
Gilia modocensis. Modoc gilia. Radio tower ridge northeast of Conway Summit.
Navarretia linearifolia subsp. linearifolia. Linear-leaved navarretia. Ephemeral drainage near mine south of Mormon Meadow.

Rumex crispus L. Curly dock. Meadow at Coyote Spring.

Myosurus apetalus var. montanus. Bristly mousetail. East of Hwy 395; upper Rough Creek drainage.

Kelloggia galioides. Kelloggia. Ridge on south side of Aurora Canyon.


Eleocharis bella. Spikerush. Ephemeral drainage near mine south of Mormon Meadow.

Juncus bufonius var. occidentalis. Western toad rush. Chemung Lake, Coyote Spring, stream below mine south of Mormon Meadow.

Deschampsia danthonioides. Annual hairgrass. South shore of Chemung Lake.

Photos in this post other than mine are licensed for reuse under Creative Commons.

Copyright © Tim Messick 2018. All rights reserved.

Plants of the Bodie Hills Checklist: January 2018 Edition

I’ve made a bunch more corrections and additions to Plants of the Bodie Hills: an Annotated Checklist, based on fieldwork and other research during 2017. CLICK HERE to visit the Downloads page. The January 2018 edition of the checklist is a 50-page, 8.1 mb PDF file.

The Bodie Hills encompass about 417 square miles in northern Mono County, California, western Mineral County, Nevada, and southern-most Lyon County, Nevada. This checklist now includes 701 taxa (species, subspecies, or varieties). Of these, 593 are definitely known to occur in the Bodie Hills and 108 are of uncertain status in the area (quite possibly present, but not yet confirmed). Altogether, there are 558 dicots (in 53 families), 130 monocots (in 15 families), and 13 vascular cryptogams (in 8 families).

Some places in the Bodie Hills worth visiting:

Chemung Lake

Chemung Lake, Chemung Mine, and Masonic Mountain

Upper end of Mormon Meadow

The upper end of Mormon Meadow

East Side of the Bodie Hills

The northeastern Bodie Hills, along the Sweetwater-Aurora Road

Road to Aurora

The road to Aurora

Bridgeport Canyon

Bridgeport Canyon

Mt Biedeman and storm

Mt. Biedeman from the road to Bodie


Copyright © Tim Messick 2018. All rights reserved.

Does Dune Horsebrush Occur in the Bodie Hills?

Tetradymia tetrameres isn’t normally a hill-dwelling plant. As the common name suggests, it’s found most often in deep sands and old, stabilized sand dunes (foreground and center, in the photo above). Deep sand and old dunes usually occur in valleys and basins, not hills, though sometimes deep sandy soils can be found in canyons or ravines that penetrate hilly uplands.

Dune horsebrush near the mouth of a canyon entering Adobe Valley.

In California this plant found in the north and northeastern Mono Basin, in Adobe Valley (southeast of Mono Basin), and perhaps in Deep Springs Valley (south of the White Mountains). The CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants ranks it as “fairly endangered in California, common elsewhere” but globally it’s “apparently secure, considering populations outside California”.

Outside of California, the “global” range of dune horsebrush encompasses just a handfull of counties in northwest and central Nevada — again, mostly in “sand dunes,” “sandy desert,” “dunes of compacted sand,” “sand in and around small, rather stable dunes,” etc.

Persistent phyllaries and lingering papus bristles give dune horsebrush
a bright appearance during September and October.

But does it occur in the Bodie Hills? Well, there’s an unnumbered collection by the Mariposa-based lawyer/botanist Joseph Whipple Congdon dated Aug 17, 1898. The location is given as “Bodie. Desert road.” Berkeley Mapper places the collection site near Bodie, which is logical based on the label information, but unlikely because there are no deep sands or dunes near Bodie. Having not seen this ancient specimen (DS1815), I thought it might be misidentified, but the specimen bears no annotation labels changing the determination, and Congdon had previously collected Tetradymia canescens, again without subsequent corrections.

His other collection locations on August 17  (“Mono Lake,” and “Desert Road”) shed no further light on the location of the Tetradymia. But on the 13th he was at Mono Pass and Bloody Canyon. On the 14th he was at Walker Lake. On the 15th and 16th he was at “Walker Lake to Mono Lake,” “Below Walker Lake,” and “Near Mono Lake.” So this was the smaller Walker Lake east of Mono Pass, not the larger Walker Lake near Hawthorne in Nevada. I think he may have spent a night or two at Goat Ranch on the south edge of the Bodie Hills, because he collected there on the 18th, then on the 19th he was on his way to Bridgeport. I doubt he even went to Bodie on this trip.

So where did Congdon collect his Tetradymia tetrameres, and was it “in the Bodie Hills”? I think he encountered it in the stabilized dunes he would have passed through if he had traveled the road from the DeChambeau Creek area, past DeChambeau Ranch (on today’s Cemetery Road) to Goat Ranch. Today, these dunes are also crossed by Highway 167, and the practiced eye will easily recognize dune horsebrush there on both sides of the highway north of Black Point. But this is clearly in the Mono Basin, not in the Bodie Hills, and some 9 to 11 air miles from the town of Bodie.

Part of the 1911 USGS 1:125,000 Bridgeport quadrangle, showing
the many roads between Black Point and Goat Ranch.

Dune horsebrush along Highway 167, north of Black Point.

There are, however, at least a few individuals of T. tetrameres actually in the Bodie Hills, just barely, along Cottonwood Canyon Road, near the mouth of Cottonwood Canyon, in sandy soil, but uncharacteristically in pinyon pine woodland. Having also seen dune horsebrush on sandy flats and slopes in a canyon of the southern Adobe Hills, at the northwest end of Adobe Valley, I would not be surprised to see more of it along the southeast edge of the Bodie Hills, where sandy deposits of the northeastern Mono Basin climb into some of the little valleys and canyons west and northeast of Cedar Hill.

Dune horsebrush in marginal habitat at the edge of the Bodie Hills.

Dune horsebrush has a very limited range in California. It has a wider range in Nevada, but is still endemic to the western and central Great Basin. It is easily overlooked and partial to remote, dry, dusty places, so I think a lot more of it could be found with some deliberate searching.

•     •     •

Speaking of “horsebrushes,” what other Tetradymia species occur in the Bodie Hills? Tetradymia canescens, “gray horsebrush,” is common (but rarely if ever abundant) on dry slopes among sagebrush through much of the range. Tetradymia glabrata, “little leaf horsebrush,” was collected somewhere on Rough Creek by Clare Hardham in 1969, and near lower Cottonwood Canyon by Frank Vasek in 1975. I’ve seen it on a low ridge at the west end of Fletcher Valley. Tetradymia spinosa, the (visiously) “spiny horsebrush,” is found in the northern and eastern foothills of the Bodie Hills. Tetradymia axillaris, the longer-spined “cotton-thorn” or “longspine horsebrush” has been collected in northern Owens Valley (Mono Co.), north of Yerington (Lyon Co.), and north of Luning (Mineral Co.), but probably isn’t in the Bodie Hills.

Tetradymia canescens

Tetradymia spinosa


Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.