California Native Plant Society
San Gabriel Mountains Chapter

The Paintbrush Quest

Part 2: Santa Clara Divide Road (3N17) East
Three Points to Sulphur Springs including Horse Flats

Section 1: The Search

One Anisocoma acaulis, scalebud, at the Sulphur Springs turnaround, two Hulsea vestita subsp. gabrielensis, pumice alpinegold, one Camissonia, sun cup, three filaree plants and various forms of manzanita beginning to show blossoms — that's all, folks! — all the flowers in bloom along the road around 6,000 feet elevation on April 4, 2012.

Jane Strong's report: However, our goal was to find Mt. Gleason paintbrush to match the CNDDB records and to confirm in our own minds what it looked like. We succeeded in the first part, but the second was a bit more difficult. I hadn't been up here this early in the season before and hadn't known that paintbrush was deciduous. We, Walt, Graham, Jane Tirrell and I, had therefore to look for last season's inflorescences.

The map shows the road we travelled, with blue dots indicating the three locations of Castilleja gleasoni in the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB.) To see the GPS track of the day, click here.

Walt found the first plants, a previously known patch of C. applegatei subsp. martinii, Martin's or wavy-leaved paintbrush, the most common form here. The leaves were about an inch long, reddish, hairy, hidden under winter's debris, but undoubtedly paintbrush.

Horse Flats Campground gate was closed so we went on to Rosenita Saddle, the Mt. Hillyer Trailhead. We then decided to continue on to 5N04, Sulphur Springs Road, and pickup this area on the way back.

We found Mt. Gleason paintbrush on Sulphur Springs Road right where the voucher said it was: c. 0.3 mile below Alder Saddle along a dry branch of the S Fork of Little Rock Creek; elev. c. 5,300 ft., Yellow Pine Forest; on sandy bottom and margins of dry stream bed. This population hadn't been visited since 1987!

Graham's report: Jane T and I walked along the road near where the report mentioned, and found multiple examples of paintbrush. Also walked in along the Horse Flats Road as far as where the loop road parts, where we found C. gleasoni last year. Saw plenty, all little. Have ample photos, hopefully good.

Castilleja applegatei subsp. martinii

Casttilleja gleasoni

Comparison: Castilleja gleasoni (left) and Castilleja applegatei subsp. martinii (right)

Graham's comments on photos: In general the branching of hairs on gleasoni seems to be from the base, like a “V” of two hairs coming from the same root. In some instances I also see branching in the middle, like a “Y”, but I don't know if that is truly a diagnostic feature. I say that because, while I agree with your identifications, at least three of the non-gleasoni appear to have at least a few Y-hairs (images 20, 46, and 51.) That might not disqualify them from being non-gleasoni in the sense that I see two broad patterns emerging here:

1) The gleasoni has finer hairs and more of them because of the branching, and not so straight, which tends to look like a furry mat when compared with the non-gleasoni.
2) The non-gleasoni has very straight hairs that appear to be stouter hairs that stand up more noticeably. In some instances I see a few isolated Y-hairs.

Jane Strong's summary of the day: Thus, we confirmed that all three populations of Castilleja gleasoni, Mt. Gleason paintbrush, along Santa Clara Divide Road East are extant, all in all a very successful day.

Section 2: Mixed up manzanitas

Four subspecies (cushingiana, glandulosa, gabrielensis and mollis) of Arctostaphylos glandulosa, Eastwoood's manzanita, are found in area, but which is which?

Manzanitas that we saw, clockwise from top left: Stop 1, Stop 2, Stop 3, Stop 9, Stop 11, Stop 12

Next trip to this location in May. Email if you would like to go.


Text: Jane Strong
Images: Graham Bothwell
Map: U.S. Forest Service

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