Journal archives for May 2022

May 15, 2022

My rare plant treasure hunt journey

If it weren't for COVID-19 and the lockdown of March 2020, this journey would never have happened. Being trapped inside all day on Zoom, I had never wanted to go hiking so much in my life. I began to visit the Tujunga Wash almost daily, just to get out of the house but also to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. I'd hiked in the Wash off and on over the years but never as consistently as during the pandemic. I began to be curious about the plant life I was seeing. My mother was a botany major, native plant enthusiast, and member of CNPS. She had taught me that it's important to visit the same sites over time to observe changes in the plant life. Because I wasn't sure what I was looking at, I investigated the local native plants online and discovered that the Tujunga Wash was home to an endangered species, the slender-horned spineflower (Dodecahema leptoceras). I gathered pictures of the plant online and kept an eye out on my hikes, certain one would pop up sooner or later.

Well, one year later, I still hadn't found a single slender-horned spineflower. I did find a lot of other spineflowers, however, and reached out to Amy Patten, Rare Plant Treasue Hunt Manager at CNPS, for help. She was kind enough to send me some information about past observations and also linked me to Jordan Collins, botanist extraordinaire, to help with field surveys in areas where the slender-horned spineflower had been observed. Jordan modeled great botancial persistence and showed me how to actually use iNaturalist, opening up a whole new world of botanical observations and information. Through connecting with botanists on iNaturalist, I was finally able to visit and observe the slender-horned spineflower in real life. What a treasure indeed.

Highly endangered, the slender-horned spineflower has been threatened by development, vandalism and invasive species. I plan to continue to visit the population I was lucky enough to see and to check on them to see how they are doing. I guess you could say I'm a citizen scientist but mainly I'm just someone who cares about nurturing our native plants in California. I am grateful to all the dedicated botanists who helped me to find Dodecahema leptoceras at last. And I pledge to continue to protect any and all endangered native plants that I find on my path.

Posted on May 15, 2022 02:24 AM by elizabeth_lockhart elizabeth_lockhart | 0 comments | Leave a comment

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