Friday, May 11, 2012

Quest for the Panamint Daisy

Exactly 121 years plus one day since Coville's 1891 hike into the Panamint Mountains and described the huge, rugged Panamint daisy, the Southern California Rare Plant Treasure Hunters made a second attempt to verify the occurence of the iconic rarity.

A very dry year was exacerbated by 95-degree early morning heat, as the Enceliopsis seekers marched across the 2-mile stretch of valley floor to the canyon's mouth, and were greeted with a sweet sliver of swiftly moving snow melt flowing through the aluvium.

Once soaked in H20 salvation, the seekers continued another mile, until the canyon gave way to nearly impassable combinations of boulders, slots and shale walls. They stopped to rest and assess, and finally determined this year's conditions were too extreme for both the daisy and its would-be finders.

Hoisting their packs and turning shoulders against disappointment, a distant flash of golden radiance caught a botanist's eye. Cameras whiplashed, counters counted, rulers ruled and rejoicers beamed. Though scavenged by desperate insects, partial petals of happiness fluttered in the the noon-day sun, and for this 121-year nano second of botanical history, the Panamint daisy lives on.

(by Kim Clark)

It should be noted that most populations of the extremely rare Panamint daisy are located and protected inside Death Valley National Park, where collecting reduces genetic diversity, seed production and future populations, and carries a $5,000 fine. The collection noted above did not include a whole plant, was one in 121 years, outside the park boundaries, under legal permit by a qualified botanist as an herbarium specimen to forward conservation and preservation. If you ever have the pleasure of gazing upon this beautiful creature, please take only pictures. A permit is always required to collect plants on public lands, and permission should be sought and granted on private lands. Happy Botanizing!


  1. Congradulations! The article seems to imply the species was not seen in the last 121 years. Wow, is that really true?

  2. Way to go on your trek! I congratulate you all on your work well done.