The San Gabriel Mountains are the middle of three sets of transverse ranges–the only mountains in California that run East to West instead of North to South. They sit due north of Los Angeles and due south of Lancaster and the Western Mojave. Further to the east are the taller and more isolated San Bernardinos, a botanical hot spot that I explored extensively last year. But the San Garbiels are unique and beautiful in their own right, and it was high time I spent some time there. So I went on a three day backpack trip into the Pleasant View Ridge wilderness, and wow, it did not disappoint. The “pleasant view” to the South was somewhat blocked by clouds. That’s okay, I didn’t need to see LA anyway.
But the pleasant view into the desert was clear. This picuture doesn’t fully capture it, but I could see the whole way across the Mojave up to the Southern Sierras.
Okay, onto the flowers. First, three relatively common flowers that were photogenic enough to include: Penstemon grinnellii (Grinnell’s Beardtongue, Plataginaceae)
Calochortus kennedyi (Desert Mariposa Lily, Liliaceae)
Dudleya cymosa pumila (Low Canyon Liveforever, Crassulaceae)
Okay, all the rest of these plants are rare (or at least relatively range restricted). I found all of them on steep granitic scree slopes. Scree is a mass of loose rocks unstable enough that trees and shrubs have difficulty growing. This open environment allows small plants greater access to water and sunlight. First, a couple plants that I’ve met and photographed once before. They are both amazing enought to deserve a second helping. Fritillaria pinetorium (Pine Woods Fritillary, Liliaceae)
Mimulus johnstonii (Johnston’s Monkeyflower, Phrymaceae)
Okay, now to my new discoveries. Allium monticola (San Bernadino Mountain Onion, Alliaceae). I’m not too sure who came up with this common name, because there are far more populations of this species in the San Gabriels than the San Bernadinos.
Caulanthus amplexicaulus (Clasping-leaved Jewelflower, Brassicaceae). I’m going to keep trying (and mostly failing) to photograph jewelflowers. Their small, weird flowers are some of my favorites, and this species has really cool, veiny leaves too.
Chaenactis santolinoides (Santolina Pincushion, Asteraceae)
Phacelia austromontana (Southern Mountains Phacelia, Boraginaceae). This picture is a bit confusing because there is another species of Phacelia (Phacelia longipes) in bud just to the left of the open flowers.
Oreonana vestita (Wooly Mountainparsley, Apiaceae). This is a new genus for me (there are only two other species in it, both with narrow ranges in southern California Mountains). Each gray-green leaf is folded in on itself like a head of broccoli, and the fruits are hidden in between sterile flowers.
Hulsea vestita gabrielensis (San Gabriel Mountains Alpinegold, Asteraceae). An absolutely adorable plant with super fuzzy leaves!
And finally, my favorite from the hike, Linanthus concinnus (San Gabriel Linanthus, Polemoniaceae).