Tag Archives: Native Plants

Fun with iNaturalist

I’ve started uploading some observations of plants and occasional other critters to iNaturalist.org. 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.
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Juniper Galls in the Bodie Hills

Juniper galls

Back in May, while skittering down a slope of trachyandesitic scree near Travertine Hot Springs, I encountered a Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) with anomalous growths at the ends of a few branchlets. Having recently read up on some galls on oaks at Grover Hot Springs, and galls on sagebrush beside the East Walker River, I thought another wasp or midge might be at work here.

Who did this? Sources I’ve found on the internet suggest it’s a still undescribed species of Juniper gall midge (Walshomyia sp.). See CalPhotos for another image (and another). Gall midges are tiny flies (Order Diptera) in the family Cecidomyiidae, subfamily Cecidomyiinae. Walshomyia includes the Juniper urn gall midge (W. juniperina), whose gall I’ve seen on a juniper at Grover Hot Springs, and the Cypress gall midge (W. cupressi).

At a glance, I can’t tell if these galls are developing on the apical buds of branchlets or on the young seed cones of these trees (normal growth shown below).

Utah juniper fruits

Below: Juniper gall midge habitat on a hill between Travertine Hot Springs and Bridgeport Valley. Buckeye Canyon and Flatiron Ridge in the background.

Junipers on scree


Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.
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CNPS Visits the Bodie Hills

Chemung Lake

On July 8 the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) took a field trip to the northern Bodie Hills. About 20 of us drove the loop from Bridgeport up to the Masonic Mountain area, then south to the top of Aurora Canyon and back to Bridgeport, with stops along the way, of course, to look at plants. The first stop was at the seasonal pond I’ll henceforth call Chemung Lake (because it’s near Chemung Mine). It had filled nicely during the wet winter and supported a healthy 6 acres of spike-rush (Eleocharis macrostachya).

Lakeview Spring

We proceeded around the north side of Masonic Mountain to Lakeview Spring, with its ring of Nebraska sedge (Carex nebrascensis) within a large grove of aspen (Populus tremuloides).

Inspecting Paeonia

We inspected the population of Brown’s peony (Paeonia brownii) near Lakeview Spring. This may be the southernmost population of this species east of the Sierra Nevada.

Calochortus

We found Leichtlin’s mariposa-lily (Calochortus leichtlinii), near Lakeview Spring (surrounded here by grass leaves).

Lunch at Lower Town

Lunch beside the aspens and meadow at Masonic Lower Town.

Meadow at Lower Town

Meadow at Lower Town

Ann explains a grass.

Caravan

The caravan stops along a drainage southeast of Masonic Mountain.

Pronghorn

Pronghorn crossing the road ahead!

Pronghorn

Ten members of the Bodie Hills herd of Pronghorn.

Thanks to Ann Howald (CNPS) and April Sall (Bodie Hills Conservation Partnership) for arranging and leading this outing, and to all the other participants for their interest in the Bodie Hills!


A few more botanical notes:

Plants seen on this trip that will be added to the next edition of the Plants of the Bodie Hills checklist:
Asteraceae: Tragopogon dubius Scop. Yellow salsify. Near Lakeview Spring, among aspens and with Paeonia brownii.
Asteraceae: Cirsium vulgare (Savi) Ten. Bull thistle. At Lakeview Spring, and Ann Howald reports having seen it in Rattlesnake Gulch and at Mormon Meadow.
Cyperaceae: Cyperus squarrosus L. Bearded flatsedge. Tiny plants, easily overlooked, near the southwest shore of Chemung Lake.
Juncaceae: Juncus tiehmii Ertter. Tiehm’s rush. Possibly seen at Chemung Lake (confirmation pending), but apparently this tiny annual rush was collected on Dry Lakes Plateau way back in 1983, and so should have been in the checklist from the beginning.


Copyright © Tim Messick 2017. All rights reserved.
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