Category Archives: Plant Identification

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.

Fun with iNaturalist

I’ve started uploading some observations of plants and occasional other critters to iNaturalist is a project of the California Academy of Sciences that serves as an on-line place “where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers, and learn about the natural world”.

For me, iNaturalist is one more place (aside from the Consortium of California Herbaria, Intermountain Regional Herbarium Network, and CalFlora) where I can see what others are finding in the Bodie Hills, Hot Springs Valley, and other places I like to visit. It’s also a way to get acquainted with some invertebrates and other organisms that I don’t have the training to identify easily myself. You can also help other people identify what they’ve observed, ask for help identifying some of your observations, create “Places” (like the Bodie Hills) as geographic filters for lists of observations, and follow or communicate with other observers. There’s also an app that lets you record observations in the field.

There are a few drawbacks — photos don’t always capture the characters needed for accurate identification, and an observation may get labeled “research grade” even if two people agree on the same identification that happens to be incorrect. On the whole, though, the community of observers (a mix of amateurs and professionals) seems to get things right, providing a useful and user-friendly addition to the knowledge-base on biodiversity.

The project is still young and it will be interesting to watch it grow in the years ahead. iNaturalist began as a student’s final project in the UC Berkeley School of Information in 2008. It was acquired by Cal Academy in 2014 and has a small staff supporting the project. Do you have photos of identifiable biota in Mono County or anywhere else in the world? Share them on iNaturalist!


Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.