Lily Spring Area Survey: Activities in 2012
At the time of writing (May 2012) the flowering season is at an early stage, but the LSAS team has been active.
Throughout the winter, team members frequently drove up Highway 39 to Crystal Lake campground, as a means of exploring areas adjacent to the Lily Spring study area. Vegetation on the south-facing slopes above Crystal Lake contrast significantly with that north-facing slopes in the study area.
With less snow this winter, the trail up the south-facing slope from Crystal Lake campground to Windy Gap provided a way to check the ridges of the Lily Spring study area, not readily accessible from Highway 2 because of the winter snow accumulation on the north-facing slopes. We knew from previous years of early-blooming plants such as Oreonana vestita, have flowers at the very beginning of the season, possibly earlier than anyone has ever looked for them on these ridges. Thus Jane Tirrell found Oreonana vestita in the first week of February 2012. It appears to break the surface of the ground with buds that open immediately, right on the surface of the ground.
We were also able to establish that Oreonana vestiata, classified as a 1B.3 rare plant, is widespread in the area, probably thousands of individuals. In addition to the ridge of the LSAS study area, for example, our team has found them on the southern slopes of Mt. Islip as low as 6,100 feet, along the South Mt. Hawkins ridge, and on Mt. Williamson. Don Davis found them on Mt. Baden Powell in the first week of April.
With diminishing snows, the team was able to begin accessing the study area from Highway 2 in late April. this certainly makes for much faster access than the 2-mile 2,000 ft climb from Crystal Lake campground, and we already have some field reports logged. We already have some new discoveries, such as the 3.1 listed rare plant Claytonia lanceolata, which Jane Tirrell discovered on a pine ridge at the western end of the study area, as well as on parts of Mt. Islip (outside of the study area.) It's occurrence in the San Gabriel Mountains is an isolated one, with other locations being much farther north.
One of the mysteries in Wayne Sawyer's 1981 survey is Mimulus rubellus, which we could not find. We even wondered if he had confused it with Mimulus breweril, which we did find in a limited area near Lily Spring. We became accustomed to the absence of M. rubellus. Then in June 2012 Walt Fidler discovered it in a remote location at the eastern end of the study area. So far we have found only a handful of these uncommon plants.
A major concentration this year is on collecting specimens for vouchers. Last year's tally was 17 vouchers, and this year should see many more.