California botanizing part 1

Continuing on with the botanizing trip with Leonard and Fred back in May 2022, the next morning (5/25/2022) found us at Kangaroo Lake in the Klamath National Forest of northern California. We were initially a little lost and wandered around the campground trying to find the Fen Trail…

Kangaroo Lake in the Klamath National Forest
Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest

But eventually, we found our way. The first plant we encountered was the Scott Mountain phacelia (Howellanthus dalesianus), a species that only occurs around Kangaroo Lake and other nearby locations in the Scott Mountains of northern California. The flowers were about the size of a dime. A nearby sign indicated that it normally blooms in late June or July, but I guess things were pushing along a little early, since this one was blooming in late May.

Small white flowers and fuzzy green leaves of the Scott Mountain phacelia
Howellanthus dalesianus

Just a little bit further up the trail were lots of western spring beauty (Claytonia obovata), with its tiny pinkish-white flowers, pink pollen, and leaves with three parallel ,sunken, reddish veins. These were everywhere I had to pull myself away and stop photographing these enigmatic little beauties.

Tiny pink flowers, pink pollen, and leaves with three red veins of a western spring beauty at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Claytonia obovata
Tiny pink flowers, pink pollen, and leaves with three red veins of a western spring beauty at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Claytonia obovata

Soon after, we found our first patch of California pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica). I gotta confess that I thought this plant was sort of ugly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cool plant, but I just don’t find it super attractive without someone doing a little bit of cleanup on all of the dead foliage. Maybe it looks better later in the year once all of the new growth covers all the old, cruddy stuff up?

The snake-like cobra heads of a California pitcher plant at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Darlingtonia californica

In the same area was a plant I liked much better, the white marsh-marigold (Caltha leptosepala).

White and yellow flowers of the white marsh marigold at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Caltha leptosepala

Heading up the trail towards the rocky ridge above the southern edge of the lake was this architectural, dead tree.

Architectural, dead tree at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Branch architecture

This area had lots of ferns (Cheilanthes gracillima) and sedum (Sedum obtusatum ssp. obtusatum) tucked in here and there.

Fern and sedum at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Sedum obtusatum ssp. obtusatum and Cheilanthes gracillima

This goosefoot violet peeking out from the rocks has an annoyingly oxymoronic scientific name, Viola purpurea ssp. quercetorum. Purpurea means purple, yet the flowers are clearly yellow… The leaves were maybe tinted a little bit purple and the yellow flowers are perhaps streaked with purple (or black), but that hardly seems a sufficient reason to name it V. purpurea. There must be a story behind this somewhere. Prepare for a brief diversion in 3, 2, 1…

A yellow goosefoot violet peeking out from the rocks at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Viola purpurea ssp. quercetorum

I assumed that V. purpurea was named by Albert Kellogg, an early botanist in California (~1849-1887), because his last name was listed after the plant’s name in the scientific literature. Looking into it further (Daniel 2017), I found out that he was one of the seven founders of the California Academy of Sciences in 1853. Kellogg was an avid botanist who described hundreds of plant species. He never married (hmm) and it was because of him that the Academy may have been the first scientific institution in the world to recognize and encourage women to participate in the sciences (double hmm). Pure conjecture here, because there is no way of knowing for certain, but some of Kellogg’s life history and the way he is described by his colleagues at the time make me wonder if he might have been gay.

Kellogg was also an avid illustrator who used pencil and watercolor to portray hundreds of beloved Californian native plants. Unfortunately, most of them were apparently destroyed during the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Only five of his illustrations are known to remain at the Academy. Fortunately, one of them was the confusingly named Viola purpurea. If we take a look at that illustration (below), we see a strong clue about why he gave this species the specific epithet, purpurea. The stems, the flower buds, and the backside of the leaves and flowers of the specimen that he painted are distinctly purple! Aha!

Albert Kellogg, bearded botanist and feminist
Photo of Albert Kellogg (Daniel 2017).
Albert Kellogg's drawing/painting of Viola purpurea showing purple coloration on the backs of the leaves and flowers
Kellogg's drawing of Viola purpurea (Daniel 2017)

Ok, now back to the flowers at Kangaroo Lake. I loved the contrast between the fuzzy grey-green leaves of a Phacelia species and the thick, succulent, red leaves of another sedum tumbling down some rocks. Great inspiration for the rock garden back home.

Fuzzy grey-green leaves of a Phacelia sp and reddish succulent leaves of sedum tumbling down rocks at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Phacelia sp. and Sedum obtusatum ssp. obtusatum

The flowers of the scytheleaf onions weren’t open at Kangaroo Lake yet, but the buds were a nice deep, dark purple nonetheless.

Angular, purple flower buds of the scytheleaf onion at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Allium falcifolium

A view of Kangaroo Lake from up on the southern ridge. Weird name, huh? Supposedly, it’s an English-language interpretation of the original Native American name for the lake.

Kangaroo Lake from the ridge above, Klamath National Forest
Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest

The spreading phlox on the ridge was in bloom (left, Phlox diffusa), but not the quill leaf lewisia (right, Lewisia leeana).

Pinkish white flowers of spreading phlox at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Phlox diffusa
Thin, succulent leaves of the quill-leaf lewisia at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Lewisia leeana

Drummond’s anemone was everywhere on the rocky ridge, from the cute little pearly buds to the fully opened flowers. Several of the flowers were pale lavender underneath. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a really clear picture of this as the lighting was harsh, but you can sort of see one in the upper left of the photograph of the last picture in this grouping.

A clump of white Drummond's anemone at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Anemone drummondii

A bonsai-like specimen of pinemat manzanita (Arctostaphylos nevadensis) with lots of deadwood.

Bonsai inspiration from pinemat manzanita with abundant deadwood
Arctostaphylos nevadensis

Another architectural, dead tree overlooking the mountains from the ridge. This one was silvery because all the bark had fallen off.

A silvery, beautiful, dead tree at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Silvery, dead tree overlooking the ridge above Kangaroo Lake

The few-flowered bleeding heart. The flowers have a really interesting structure and are intricately patterned with veins and spots.

The pink flowers and blue-green leaves of a few-flowered bleeding heart peeking out from the rocks at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
Dicentra pauciflora
Close-up detail of the pink few-flowered bleeding heart, showing its intricate structure, veining, and speckling
Close-up flower detail

Evidence of gopher activity was everywhere in this area. These are eskers, which are long, meandering tunnels formed by gophers as they burrow along the surface of the soil underneath the snow in winter. As the snow melts, the eskers become visible as seen here.

Gopher eskers at Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
An esker formed by gophers

I’ll leave you with a view of the mountains stretching out beyond Kangaroo Lake in the Klamath National Forest.

View of the mountains around Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest
The view from the ridge above Kangaroo Lake, Klamath National Forest

Next time, a much shorter post with pictures from the second half of the day.

 

Resources used in this posting:

Calfora website – information on wild California plants. www.calflora.org

Daniel, T.F. 2008. One hundred and fifty years of botany at the California Academy of Sciences (1853-2003). Proc. California Academy of Sciences 59 (7): 215-305.

DeCamp, Kierstead Nelson, and Knorr. 2017. Wildflowers of the Trinity Alps. Backcountry Press. California, USA.

Smith, J.P. Jr. 2017. Checklist of the vascular plants of the Kangaroo Lake area Siskiyou County, California. Botanical Studies 56. Humboldt State University.

Zika, P.F., Wilson, B.L., Brainerd, R.E., Otting, N., Darington, S., Knaus, B.J., and Kierstead Nelson, J. 2018. A review of Sedum section Gormonia (Crassulaceae) in western North America. Phytotaxa 368 (1): 1-61.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. danger garden

    Thanks for saying what I thought when I first saw Darlingtonia californica in “the wild”. I wanted to get in there and clean it up so it looked better!

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Yes, surprisingly messy and hard to get a good photo that didn’t show a lot of dead brown leaves. It’s got to look better later in summer.

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