Hi! My name is Mr. Medinger. Please join me in California's Mountains as I study the effects of climate change and development on plant distribution!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday on Cactus Springs trail

The clouds swirled through the sky as we drove home from cactus springs. It has been a great trip. I have learned alot about plants. I have learned more latin then I ever thought I would know. I learned how elevation, time of day, and all sorts of factors can influence a plant's blooming. I have made some good friends from all parts of the world, who I hope to stay in touch and continue our partnership to help our earth. We will mail our samples off to DC tomorrow and go back to our lives again. I would recommend this experience to anyone.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday in Apple Canyon

Here is an idea of what the desert floor looks like down the hill from Idylewild. We were out on Wednesday, looking to find Indian paintbrush, phacelia, and blue gillia. Though it is brief, the desert flora seems to explode. This particular place was a mix of the yellow and purple you can see here with highlights of bright red.

We have gathered and pressed over 60 species at this point. Our team has become a well oiled machine, I am the record keeper and get to scout out to find duplicates of particular species. Rebecca is our photographer, and Bill and Jan need to bag and then press them on site.

Thankfully, we havent found to many invasive species to this point, which may be a good sign. Rusty has told me that both the Palm Springs and the Idylewild communities have begun "native plant" promotions for there domestic and commercial landscaping. Hopefully these beautiful scapes will be spared from the crabgrass and fire starters that have invaded the mountains closer to LA

Our voyage into the desert

Our first expedition was up into Bear Creek Canyon, just outside Palm Desert, CA. Our mission was to find as many flowering species of plants as possible.
Our leader, Rusty Russel, leads a herbarium at the Smithosian and wants these species to compare to research that was done back in the nineteenth century. We are looking to see if any new species have invaded, and if any change in the climate has caused stress on certain species.
It was a hot dry day, and a mile into the climb, we were already exhausted. Then, at the top of the first ridge, magic happened. I came across a pair of endangered Big Horn Sheep, coming as close as 15 feet away. When they saw the rest of the group, they took off down the mountain in a thunderous flash. This picture was taken when they rested down behind some rocks below to check us out.
As we continued, we found many different flowering plants. Each one needs to be bagged, recorded and eventually pressed on the mountain. I was shocked to learn that these samples, once completely dry, can last forever.
I have started to learn the proper names of some of the plants that have been familiar to me on previous hikes. The small white flowers are called cryptantha. The Ocotillo, my favorite, were large tree like plants with enormous red flowers. The yucca are tall Dr. Suess like flowers with brilliant red cones. The floor of some parts of the chaperral were lined with yellow gillia. It was like walking on sunshine.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 1

Well our team began early this morning, with a trip to Chalk Hill, where we began our study of the wild flowers and shrubs. It was amazing to see how one side of the hill was covered in pine trees and lush undergrowth, while the other side was sandy and full of succulents. We were able to log and press over 12 species by noon. Then we drove down the hill to apple canyon, at the lower elevation we saw much more colors. The snow pack had melted into a river and we were able to log another 14 species, mostly of wild flowers. Right now we are back at the Reserve drying the plants and logging our data and pictures. Tomorrow we are going down the hill into the real desert, should be hot!