California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Lily Spring Area Survey

About the Lily Spring Area Survey

The goal of the Lily Spring Area Survey (LSAS) was to monitor the population of high-elevation native plant species within the San Gabriel Mountains, and make scientifically useful comparisons with observations made 30 years ago. This was done by repeating a survey carried out in 1981 by Wayne E. Sawyer in an area around Lily and Little Jimmy Springs, and published in Crossosoma in 1987. Click here for further background information about our project.

Blooms in the Lily Spring study area. Click a thumbnail to see a larger image. Reload page for a different selection. Or Click here to see all images in a single panel of thumbnails.

Our field observing began in the spring of 2010, largely on the basis of learning about the survey area. The main part of our survey extended throughout the blooming season of spring-summer-autumn 2011. Some parts of the survey extended into 2012, and this was especially significant for the collection of specimens in support of the survey.

We received the Grand Chapter Prize for the CNPS Rare Plant Treasure Hunt in 2010 and 2011.


The major ourcome of the survey was publication of two papers, in Fremontia (Journal of the California Native Plant Society) and Crossosoma (Journal of the Southern California Botanists):

1. Jane Tirrell, Walter Fidler, Jane Strong, and Graham Bothwell, “A historical comparison of habitat and plant populations in the mid-range San Gabriel Mountains,” Fremontia, Vol. 41, No. 2, May 2013

2. Jane Tirrell, Walter Fidler, Jane Strong, and Graham Bothwell, “Phenology of high elevation plants of the San Gabriel Mountains: a 1891-2011 comparison,” Crossosoma, Vol. 38, No. 1, Spring-Summer 2012

A presentation was also given by Jane Tirrell at the CNPS 2012 Conservation Conference in San Diego, in the “California plants and climate change” session.

Summary of survey results

We set out to see what had changed over 30 years, and discovered that indeed the plants observed by Sawyer are doing well, — of the 100 species in Saywer's study, we observed all but 2. We also found 34 floweirng species not reported by Sawyer. While the two studies were influenced by obviously differing factors such as methodology, temperature, and rainfall, the greatest impact on the study area since Sawyer's day was the Curve Fire of 2002, which burned all but a small section of the area. Much of what was forest 30 years ago is now open country. This produced a changed pattern of flowering, and also resulted in a number of fire followers that were absent for Sawyer. While the flowering onset in 2011 was not significantly different from that seen in 1981, early season taxa flowered earlier and late season taxa flowered later. There was also a substantial increase in average flowering duration. Future studies will hopefully reveal longer term changes in the flowering pattern of this area.

Some details of the project work

Field observations during the survey were entered into a data base on this web site, and can be found on the field data page, including individual field reports, lists of vouchers collected as part of the project, and charts of yearly observations that compare project observations with Sawyer's 1981 observations.

A set of on-line photo albums called Gallery 2 contains some of the photographs from the LSAS work, including partial month-by-month collections, and a series of chronological images for individual species.

The following are links to pages describing our activities for individual years:

LSAS activities during 2010

LSAS activities during 2011

LSAS activities during 2012

A useful reference that was provided for team members: A Field Guide to the Rare Plants of the Angeles National Forest (PDF, a very large file, 16.6 MB)

Top of page

Data entry pages (team only)


A permanently wet drainage gully extending upward from 7,400 feet above the highway


yellow violet


Sawyer's publication

Field data

2010 summary

2011 summary

2012 summary

Project gallery

Slide shows


Miscellanea & trivia