Water-loving Sierra Natives

We've seen in my first post about High Sierra natives that many of these beautiful plants cope with dry conditions and exposed areas. And yet, while summers can be dry, the High Sierra is also the water reservoir for San Francisco (Hetch Hetchy) and Los Angeles.

Winter storms bring snow to the High Sierra, and in spring the snow melt fills the many rivers, lakes and reservoirs.

In summer, thunderstorms form, and sometimes the heat in the central valley results in cloud formation and rain - as we experienced on our fourth day of hiking (this was a rather cold and wet lunch).

As summer ripens, the smaller rivers dry out and become rivers of flowers, a magical sight.

Above, a DYC (damned yellow composite). I think it might be an Arnica, here a close-up.

Sometimes, willows are in the streambed, which is edged with perennials such as Arnica, Lupine, and Spenosciadium capitellatum (ranger's button).

Ranger's button and lupine
Ranger's button was quite common in some of the areas, even in slightly dryer areas, probably eastern and northern exposure.

Ranger's button (?)
I'm actually not completely sure whether some of these plants aren't Angelica breweri (Brewer's angelica), but one of the gentlemen in our group was quite insistent it was ranger's button, and it certainly could have been.

Ranger's button
I found it quite fascinating that the water-loving plants were often very tiny, and often very tall (and not so often medium-sized). Here is a tiny monkey flower (Mimulus) - not completely sure which Mimulus this is, but the flowers were not even 1/4 inch. 

Tiny Mimulu
And here is the tiny but stunningly bright pink Epilobium obcordatum (rock fringe).

Epilobium obcordatum
I was struck by the bright colors of many of the plants in the High Sierra - with the short time to attract pollinators and set seed, none seemed to bother with pastels (yes they really were that pink).

Epilobium obcordatum

Before the post gets too long, two of the tall flowers we saw near the small streams and lakes. First a lupine, most likely Lupinus polyphyllus (large-leaved lupine).

Lupinus polyphyllus (large-leaved lupine)

And here the most stunning of larkspurs (most likely Delphinium glaucum (giant mountain larkspur), which was easily 5 1/2 feet tall.

Delphinium glaucum (giant mountain larkspur)
I hope you're enjoying the tour of the Sierra flowers - I promised my fellow hikers to post the plants and have at least one more post. In early August, we'll get back to the garden and investigate some mysteries - How many of the plants died in this dry, hot summer? Did pinching the Epilobium keep it short? And how is the Delta sunflower doing?

Until then, enjoy our guests from the higher elevations....


Country Mouse said…
How could this post of amazing photos possibly be too long!
Mani said…
Thanks for the lovely photographs.

We saw ranger buttons and a more prolific white flower without the tight petals that make the "buttons", didn't we?
ryan said…
I was just up in Yosemite, seeing the dry and wet wildflowers too. It seemed like the wet areas were at peak. I saw maybe the second best patch of wildflowers that I've ever seen up there. I like the DYC label; it makes perfect sense. I already knew about little brown birds ad little gray birds, but little yellow flowers do the same thing to me.
Brewer's angelica!! I just spent a weekend at Lake Alpine in Stanislaus, and had plenty of books to identify the bees all over it, but did not know it's name. I also saw that monkeyflower all over in the shade of rocks, and if you find out the actual name, I hope you'll post about it.