To The Sequoias or Bust!!

The field season is in full swing and I have been itching to go back out to my study site ever since I got my jeep stuck. I got that chance when Erika Gardner, fellow botanist and graduate student, agreed to go out in the field with me. First stop on our botanical adventure was to check out the cholollo campgrounds in the higher elevations on the Tule River Indian Reservation, where Windy creek joins the South Fork Tule River.

South Fork Tule River, Tule River Indian Reservation.

I had collected here last year, but had not hiked up to the Cholollo falls, which was  where we  decided to go. Along the way we saw really cool plants like this parasitic Orobanche uniflora.

Orobanche uniflora
Orobanche uniflora

As a full parasite, it doesn’t make any of it’s own nutrients, therefore does not contain chlorophyll and is not green. Orobanche uniflora is native to much of North America, where it acquires nutrients from other plants by tapping into the roots of  many plants including those in the Asteraceae and Saxifragaceae families and in the genus Sedum. Some common names for this plant include one flowered broomrape and one flowered cancer root. I wonder where it got those common names from….

We kept on hiking along the river  and were able to see a lot of other great plants in bloom, including  beautiful little areas like this that Erika likes to call ‘fairy gardens’.
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Fairy Garden. Includes California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla).

After hiking for a while longer and collecting many other cool plants along the way, we finally made it to the waterfall, but it was hard to see from our angle. Here is a pic we took of the waterfall the next day from a different vantage point.

Cholollo falls, Tule River Indian Reservation
Cholollo falls, Tule River Indian Reservation

We explored around the falls area and we wanted to keep on hiking but finally decided to turn back only when our tummies were rumbling and the sun was sinking. When we finally got back to process all our specimens, we had quite alot!

Erika processing plant specimens
Erika processing plant specimens

All in all it was a good field day, but now I had a new mission. Because it has been such a dry year without snow pack, I have been wondering if the plants in the higher elevations might be blooming earlier than usual. I wanted to check out the areas where the Giant Sequoias are to see if anything was growing on. 🙂

Clarkia springvillensis
Clarkia springvillensis

The next day was to the Sequoias or bust! Along the way we found a population of the rare plant Clarkia springvillensis. This plant is a listed in the California Native Plant Society’s (CNPS) inventory of rare and endangered plants as a 1B.2  species. Plants with a California Rare Plant Rank of 1B are rare throughout their range with the majority of them endemic to California. The .2 stands for fairly endangered in California.  For more on rare plants visit the CNPS website: http://www.rareplants.cnps.org/detail/171.html

We drove to the far north eastern corner of the reservation, where we decided to check out the Black Mountain Sequoia Grove near Solo Peak. We drove and drove and drove but we finally made it!!

Erika and a Giant Sequoia
Erika and a Giant Sequoia

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Words can’t express the feeling you get when you first see the Giant Sequoias. Even though I’ve seen them before, they always seem to take my breath away. Being around the largest single living organism in the world can make you feel pretty small! These trees have been around for thousands of years and have seen so much. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to walk at the feet of these magnificent giants. I love my flora project! Can’t wait to see what new botanical finds I will come up with on my next botanical adventure. Until then, stay green! 🙂