California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

Hwy 39, Morris Fire, March 5, 2010

After getting confirmation from the forest service that I was, indeed, permitted to do this, I drove up Hwy 39 to the site of the Morris Fire which burned in late August of last year, 2009. I made two stops at turnouts on the east side (dam side) of road near mile markers 20.65 and 21.21.

This gallery is more to document what I saw coming up after the fire, than to show closeups of the pretty flowers. The plants are in all different stages and patterns of growth from seedling to seedpod, from crown sprouts to dead wood.

Click on the thumbnails to see higher-resolution images, 727 x 545 pixels.


Growing from seed

Annual rosettes

left: Non-native winter annuals in rosette form found in turnouts: center, Erodium cicutarium, filaree, upper right, Centaurea melitensis, Maltese star thistle, lower right Cotula australis, brass buttons
right: A group of youngsters, mostly natives, mostly rosettes, growing on a rocky cliff face: Chaenactis artemisiifolia, white pincushion, Phacelia minor, wild Canterbury Bells, Lupinus hirsutissimus, stinging lupine, and Camissonia californica, California suncups with the interloper, mustard


left: largest Lamarckia aurea, goldentop grass, I've ever seen, about 14 inches across, only one in area, compare to castor bean leaf
center: Pennisetum setaceum, purple fountain grass, the farthest north up Hwy 39 I've seen it yet
right: happy, healthy Bromus diandrus, ripgut tbrome, overlooking Morris Reservoir

Growing from underground roots

Upright perennials and subshrubs in soil

left: Salvia mellifera, black sage and Galium augustifolium,bedstraw
center: Malacothrix saxatilis, cliff aster
right: Hazardia squarrosa, sawtooth goldenbush

Stuff growing out of rocks

left: Pellaea mucronata, bird's foot fern
center: Brickellia nevinii, Nevin's brickellbush
right: this red stuff could be anything, old graffiti, Phoschek, lichen, moss, fungus

Growing from crown sprouts, trees and large shrubs

left: Juglans californica, California walnut
right: Malosma laurina, laurel sumac


stinging lupine, Lupinus hirsutissimus
wild cucumber, Marah macrocarpus
castor bean, Ricinus communis
collar lupine, Lupinus truncatus
wild Canterbury bells, Phacelia minor

Most prominent among the colorful fire followers are the big three bluish purple to reddish purple flowers of stinging lupine, collar lupine and wild Canterbury bells with stinging lupine winning the coverage race by far.

left: the big three on the east side with burnt coast live oak and Morris Reservoir in background
right: and on west side with more sun, the three different kinds of leaves clearly visible

left: tallest collar lupine I've ever seen along shiny new guard rail to show scale
center: wild things ... Canterbury bells, oats and mustard
right: stinging lupine in seed already

If you get the idea there is a lot of stinging lupine or purple flowers on the hills, you are right ... all that light purple blur is stinging lupine even on the highest hill

By far the most prevalent non-native is castor bean, more castor bean in one place than I've ever seen before in my whole life

left: castor bean with stinging lupine
center: castor bean following drainage
right: thick castor bean

Wild cucumber is climbing over everything; it's always there, but much more visible now

left: up the dead black wood
right: down the steep bare slope, all the white flowers are wild cucumber

The snowy range in the background tells us that it's early days yet, there's more to come!

Top of page


Images and text copyright © 2010 Jane Strong.