Tag Archives: Grover Hot Springs

Plants of Hot Springs Valley: Additions in 2018

Asclepias cordifolia

1. Asclepias cordifolia

It’s time for another update to Plants of Hot Springs Valley and Grover Hot Springs State Park, Alpine County, California. I’ve added several plants to the list, based on explorations around the margins of the valley earlier this year, plus observations posted by others posted on iNaturalist. PDFs (for printing single-page format and booklet format) are available on the Downloads page of this site.

Agoseris retorsa

3. Agoseris retorsa

Here are 11 species (including one correction) added to the list in 2018:

Apocynaceae (Milkweed or Dogbane family)
1. Asclepias cordifolia – Purple milkweed – Sandy hillside with chaparral, along Burnside Lake Trail near the campground, north side of valley.
2. Asclepias fascicularis – Narrow-leaf milkweed – A milkweed with decidedly narrow leaves, growing in pine forest near the park entrance (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/13825500).
Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
3. Agoseris retorsa – Spearleaf mountain dandelion
– In granitic sand along the Burnside Lake Trail, in forest openings or forest edges, west of the meadows.
4. Artemisia ludoviciana subsp. incompta – Mountain mugwort – Uncommon, along the eroding banks of Hot Springs Creek, west of the meadows. Perhaps also to be found in rocky outcrop areas.
5. Hemizonella minima
– Tiny tarweed – A small to minute, yellow-flowered annual growing in granitic sand along the Burnside Lake Trail near the campground and north of the falls; also among outcrops near the falls. (This is a correction: previously misidentified as Madia exigua.)
6. Malacothrix floccifera – Wooly desert-dandelion – A small annual growing in granitic sand in dry forest openings, along the Burnside Lake Trail north of the falls. The flower heads resemble small dandelions, with ray flowers that are white in the outer portions and yellow toward the middle.
Brassicaceae (Mustard family)
7. Capsella bursa-pastoris – Shepherd’s-purse – a very widespread plant (but not common here), found along the disturbed edge of a service road (where it doubles for a few hundred yards as the Burnside Lake/Charity Valley Trail), on the north side of the valley, west of campground.
Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)
8. Corallorhiza striata – Striped coralroot – In deep litter of pine needles in conifer forest along the Burnside Lake Trail, north of The Falls.
Polemoniaceae (Phlox family)
9. Ipomopsis aggregata – Scarlet gilia – In dry forest openings, west of the meadows.
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
10. Ranunculus occidentalisWestern buttercup – Moist, non-alkaline meadows or moist places in forest.
11. Ranunculus testiculatus
– Bur buttercup – A weedy, unpleasant thing (“gets stuck in the pads of my dogs’ feet”, somebody once told me), native to Eurasia. It’s in a small area of disturbed ground in the meadow near Hot Springs Creek, east of the Hot Springs Cutoff trail, and perhaps in other disturbed sites.

Artemisia ludoviciana

4. Artemisia ludoviciana

Hemizonella minima

5. Hemizonella minima

Malacothrix floccifera

6. Malacothrix floccifera

Capsella bursa-pastoris

7. Capsella bursa-pastoris

Corallorhiza striata

8. Corallorhiza striata

Ranunculus occidentalis

10. Ranunculus occidentalis

Ranunculus testiculatus

11. Ranunculus testiculatus


Copyright © Tim Messick 2018. All rights reserved.

Plants of Hot Springs Valley: a New Checklist

Phlox diffusa

A couple of years ago, at Grover Hot Springs State Park (in Alpine County, California), I asked if they had a list of plants in the park. “No, but we would sure like one!” So I Googled the topic and found that a botanical survey had been prepared by a group from UC Davis several years earlier, focusing on the flora and plant communities in the meadows and adjacent forest within the park boundaries.

Grover Hot Springs State Park

Near Hot Springs Creek, in the middle of Hot Springs Valley

The field surveys were conducted in 2010 by Ellen Dean and colleagues from the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity. The report was submitted to the California Department of Parks and Recreation in 2011. This survey was very thorough, but it didn’t encompass all of Hot Springs Valley, some of which is outside the park boundaries, within Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Most of the trail to the waterfalls at the west end of the valley (a popular hiking destination) is outside the UC Davis survey area.

Grover Hot Springs State Park

Hot Springs Valley and the alkaline meadows below the springs

I wanted a list for the whole valley—covering as much as possible of the areas commonly seen by visitors throughout Hot Springs Valley. So over the last couple of summers I’ve explored the valley and added a few dozen species to the 278 taxa listed in the UC Davis report. I contacted Ellen Dean, who kindly agreed to review and co-author the combined list, providing some other additions and corrections.

Map of Hot Springs Valley

I also prepared a new map of the area. Elevation contours are from the USGS Markleeville quad; trails, roads, and lower Buck Creek are redrawn from Google Earth.

The printed list is available at the park (unless they run out), or you can download a PDF to print yourself, right here. (It’s also on the Plant Lists and Floras page at the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity—go see what else they have to offer.)

Grover Hot Springs is nearly a two-hour drive from Bodie, but these places are connected: they are the two oldest California State Parks on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, the Friends of Grover Hot Springs is a branch of the Bodie Foundation, and over a period of many years, numerous staff have worked at both parks. Now you can also download plant lists for both areas from the same web page.

Grover Hot Springs State Park

The pools at Grover Hot Springs

Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.

Botanizing in May at Grover Hot Springs State Park

Meadow at Grover Hot Springs

Meadow at Grover Hot Springs State Park

In eastern California, the next State Park north of Bodie is Grover Hot Springs. Both are in the  Sierra District of the State Parks system and many park staff have worked both places. The Friends of Grover Hot Springs is affiliated with the Bodie Foundation. So the two parks have close ties. From where I live in the Sacramento Valley, Grover is just a short detour off the mid-point of my usual route down State Route 89 to the Bodie Hills and Mono Basin. And Grover has been a favorite camping destination for my family (and many others) for many years.

Hot Springs Creek

Hot Springs Creek during spring runoff

It’s been a good spring this year in the eastern Sierra Nevada, with the best spring runoff and the best spring flowers many areas have seen in several years. I visited Grover Hot Springs State Park in mid-May (2016) and found many early-season plants in full bloom.

Sarcodes sanguinea

Snowplant (Sarcodes sanguinea)

Ceanothus prostratus

Mahala mat (Ceanothus prostratus)

Madia exigua

Miniature tarweed (Hemizonella minima)

Senecio integerrimus

Western groundsel (Senecio integerrimus)

Mimulus nanus

Dwarf monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus)

Mimulus nanus

Dwarf monkeyflower (Mimulus nanus)

Balsamorhiza sagittata

Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Ribes velutinum

Desert Gooseberry (Ribes velutinum)

Hesperochiron californicus

California hesperochiron (Hesperochiron californicus)

Phlox diffusa

Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa)

Copyright © Tim Messick 2016. All rights reserved.