Friday, January 28, 2011

Trip Change of Dates

From all reports it looks as though the desert is blooming early this year! Our first trip of the season to the Ocotillo area will be moved from March 11-13th to February 25th-27th!

We also still have a couple spots open if you'd like to join us. RSVP to or by February 5th. A more detailed itinerary will be sent to confirmed participants.

This should still be an awesome trip and we are sure to find many things in bloom and hopefully some rare plants as well!

(Photos top to bottom: Indian Gorge; Cylindropuntia wolfii; and Looking east to Ocotillo. All these beautiful photos by Anna Bennett)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

First Trip of the Season

Reserve your spot now to join in a Rare Plant Treasure Hunt in the desert. Volunteers will search for rare wildflowers in the Southern Colorado (Sonoran) desert outside of Anza-Borrego State Park. We will be exploring the mountains and washes near Ocotillo, the Jacumba and Coyote Mountains, and the Yuha Buttes in Imperial County. Hopefully we will find Mountain bush lupine, Orcutt’s woody aster and Brown turbans, among others. This will be sure to be a beautiful trip with the possibility of seeing masses of amazing wildflowers. We will be camping Friday and Saturday night in the beautiful desert landscape and enjoying a potluck on Friday night.
Friday afternoon-Sunday afternoon, March 11-13th, 2011
RSVP by February 25th to or, the first 10 volunteers to RSVP will be able to attend. Please let us know if you have any special circumstances.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Grand Prize Winner

Duncan in his element, March 2010
Duncan Bell was our 2010 Grand Prize Individual Winner. Read below about his project and how he got involved in botany.

"It was Naomi Fraga and Sula Vanderplank of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden who first introduced me to floristics. As an intern they took me out to far away places and showed me plants that most people have never seen. I was immediately hooked. It wasn’t long after that I heard a discussion from botanists Steve Boyd and Lucinda McDade on the importance of floristics in California and how very large areas were still unexplored. Like many others, I assumed that all of California had been fully explored and that there was nowhere where botanists had not been. I was very wrong! With some research I found that there were many areas (vast areas!) that were under collected and unexplored. Partly for my need to be in nature, and partly for my want to learn how to identify and key out plants, and with a whole lot of curiosity I set out to a small unexplored mountain range in the desert in literally “the middle of nowhere“. I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I ended up finding a great deal. To date I have identified over 150 species of plants that have never been collected from that mountain range, many of which are rare and endemic to only California.

I urge anyone interested in floristics, rare plant hunting, and botany in general to look to California’s deserts, especially those areas belonging to the Bureau of Land Management. There are many large solar and wind projects that are going into effect right now that will soon disrupt thousands of acres of desert lands in the way of bulldozing to make way for solar mirrors and wind turbines. It is these areas that need immediate study and exploration before those plant communities are wiped out. There are so many areas out there that need study, and so many areas where no botanist has been.

Any plant collection within an unexplored area, weather common or not, is an important collection for science as it increases the knowledge of species distribution and habitat. There is great potential to find undescribed species as well as undiscovered populations of rare species within these vast areas. In an editorial commending field botanists for significant floristic discoveries, California botanist Scott White made a terrific statement by saying “Anyone with requisite curiosity and a plant press can make similar discoveries”.
Much thanks to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, the California Native Plant Society, and to all desert naturalists assisting in the conservation of California’s great deserts."