Mojave Chapter Newsletter

Mojave Monkeyflower, Mimulus mohavensis  
Photograph by Tim Thomas




Mojave Chapter Home


Most recent newsletter

Archived newsletters

Chapter board members

Useful links


Bigelow's Monkeyflower Mimulus bigelovii

Ghost Flower
Mohavea confertiflora

Climbing Milkweed  Sarcostemma cyanchoides ssp. hartwegii

Yellow Evening Primrose     Oenothera primaveris

Scarlet locoweed
Astragalus coccineus

Desert Dandelion
Malacothrix glabrata

Desert Five-Spot
Eremalche rotundifolia

Sand Blazing Star Mentzelia involucrata

Yellow Heads Trichoptilium incisum

Desert Canterbury Bell 
Phacelia campanulariae

Above and belowMimulus bicolor  Photos by Tim Thomas







Images of Mojave Desert plants in winter - Johnson Valley 1/31/06

President's Message 

The California Native Plant Society's primary goal is to provide protection for our native plants and the habitats on which they depend.  This is accomplished through the dedication of the member volunteers who provide technical comments to land use regulators, educate the public and elected officials about the uniqueness of California's native plants, and promote the use of native plants in landscaping for water conservation and low maintenance gardens.  Our chapter has very few active members filling these roles, and we would like to see more participation this year. One approach will be to try and increase our membership numbers (we are one of the smallest chapters in the state with one of the largest territories).  This season we will be sponsoring plant identification workshops that will be free to individuals with current membership in CNPS as one method to increase our chapter membership.  We will also be seeking to groom new leadership in the chapter.  I do recognize and want to thank the few individuals that continue to represent CNPS on a variety of fronts and encourage them to continue their good work.

Important Note 
to Members:

We need to update our files with your current information. Please send an email to right away. Give your name, current mailing address, phone number, and email address, so we can keep you informed about the latest CNPS news, field trip updates, wildflower information and events. Thank you!

General Meetings

February 9, 7pm, Lewis Center - Please attend this informative joint meeting of the conservation groups of the Victor Valley, including CNPS, the Mojave Desert Bird Club, the Sierra Club, the friends of Juniper Flats, and other groups. Adriene Cole of San Bernardino County Parks will give a presentation on the proposed nature center at Mojave Narrows Regional Park. The architects designed this as an environmentally friendly building, and the county is welcoming us to use it for presentations, meetings, and environmental education activities. This is also a terrific opportunity to see what others are doing in the way of conservation efforts for the Mojave Desert. BOARD MEMBERS: Be sure to attend the board meeting/potluck at the MacKay/Thomas residence prior to the meeting (5:30 pm). Contact Tim Thomas at See directions to the Lewis Center below.

February 23, 7pm, Black Rock Nature Center - Sarah deGroot will present "Quantitative Morphology and Biogeography of Eriastrum". The Riverside/San Bernardino and Mojave Chapters will have a joint meeting at 6pm, prior to the talk. Call Tasha La Doux with questions, 909 964 7304. See directions below to the Black Rock Nature Center.

March 9, 7pm, Black Rock Nature Center - Naomi Fraga will present "A Vascular Flora of the Owens Peak Eastern Watershed, southern Sierra Nevada, California". The Riverside/San Bernardino and Mojave Chapters will have a joint meeting at 6pm, prior to the talk. Call Tasha La Doux with questions, 909 964 7304. See directions below to the Black Rock Nature Center.

March 23, 5:30-9:30pm, Victor Valley College Science Building, room 11 - Pam MacKay, Tim Thomas, and Jim Andre will present the first in a series of plant identification workshops designed to teach you how to identify plants using a botanical key. This workshop is free if you are already a registered CNPS member, or $15 for non-members (the fee purchases your membership).

Directions to 
Meeting Locations

Directions to the Lewis Center: From Bear Valley Road, go north on Apple Valley Road (or from Highway 18 go south on Apple Valley Road), then turn west on Tuscola, right on Mana, and proceed straight into the Lewis Center parking lot.

Directions to Black Rock Nature Center: From Highway 18 in Lucerne Valley, take Highway 247 south. Stay on past Highway 62, and it becomes Joshua Lane. Stay on Joshua Lane until you come to a ‘T’ in the road. Go right and go left again, and you will still be on Joshua Lane. Continue south until you see the Black Rock Nature center on the left. From Twentynine Palms, Take Highway 62 west until you reach Joshua Lane. Take a Left on Joshua Lane and stay on it until you come to a ‘T’ in the road. Go right and go left again, and you will still be on Joshua Lane. Continue south until you see the Black Rock Nature center on the left. Go to: , then click on Park map

Directions to Victor Valley College, Science 11: Go east on Bear Valley Rd. from I-15, turn left (N) on Jacaranda, and make an immediate left on the campus circle drive. Proceed to parking lot 4 on your right. Stop at the red box to get a parking sticker for six quarters. Room 11 is near the greenhouse and planetarium.

Rare Plants Update:  
Noteworthy Discoveries in the East Mojave, 
by Jim Andre

2005 was a botanical year to remember. Copious winter and summer precipitation throughout the Mojave Desert brought preposterous blooms in spring, summer AND fall. It was a year full of great discoveries. And after botanizing ourselves silly, exhausted and happy, most of us had to finally retreat to our other lives come November. But alas, the plants do not seem to rest out in the East Mojave. A dry and sunny winter has kept many species flowering well into December and even this January. This is a report on some interesting rare plant discoveries made during early winter wanderings in the East Mojave, along with some other rare plant news.

On one outing in November with Glenn Clifton and Tasha La Doux, we discovered numerous new records for rare plants in the East Mojave including several for Muhlenbergia appressa, Lotus argyreus multicaulis, Circium nidulum, and Pellaea truncata. Many of our discoveries occurred within the 70,000 acres that were burned during the Hackberry Fire (June 2005) in the Mojave National Preserve. The fire extended from Hole-in-the-Wall to the New York Mountains. Then, in July and August a total of 10-20 inches of precipitation fell throughout the footprint of the fire, kicking off a very unusual post-fire fall bloom. By far the most significant find of our trip was a new species for California, Digitaria californica, a native bunchgrass confined to a granitic knoll in Pinto Valley. Digitaria californica is well documented from Arizona to Texas and into Baja California, but until now it had not been collected in California. Results of this discovery will be published in a forthcoming volume of Madrono. It will also be submitted to CNPS for List 2 status in California.

Later in November, Glenn Clifton and I ventured into Fourth of July Canyon of the New York Mountains to check in on the condition of Thorne’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum thornei), one of the Mojave’s “poster child” rare plants. Much to my surprise, the Hackberry fire actually burned directly through the population, which occupies a total area of about hectare (this is its global distribution!). Miraculously, the fire spared some of the population, burning about 30-40% of the plants. Given that plants do not survive burning, this event easily could have resulted in an extinction scenario. The story of the fire and Thorne’s buckwheat will be presented in an upcoming Crossosoma article.

While inspecting the impacts of the fire event near Thorne’s Buckwheat, I discovered a perennial Lotus sp. that does not resemble any I have seen in California. Initial surveys of the UCR and RSA collections indicate that this is likely a new species to California, and possibly a new species to science. I am additionally looking at material from Arizona and New Mexico, but so far have not found anything related to it there. So stay tuned!

Later in the month of November, Glenn Clifton found a perennial sub-shrub Chamaesyce sp. growing in the southern Bristol Mountains. He sent photos of the plant to me, and it was unlike any Chamaesyce I have seen in the Mojave Desert. Tasha and I then visited the population of about 200 plants, which is located atop a deep north-facing canyon, and collected several vouchers. I recalled a conversation with Victor Steinmann at RSA, an expert in the Euphorbiaceae, who mentioned a “woody” Chamaesyce that he was describing from the Orocopias Mtns in the Colorado Desert of Riverside County. I sent photos of our plant to Victor and he believes it to be a northern isolated disjunct population of the same taxon he is describing from the Orocopias, or possibly a new taxon altogether. Again, stay tuned!

Finally, there is one other bit of news on the rare plant front. The Nevada Natural Heritage Program has completed its review of Penstemon bicolor, and may recommend it for federal listing. Penstemon bicolor is known in California from only one occurrence (several small sup-populations) in the Castle Mountains, which we documented this spring and subsequently visited during one of our Chapter field trips. It is also equally rare and threatened by development in Nevada and Arizona. In conjunction with NNHP, I am interested in writing the petition for potential federal listing. I would welcome anyone who is interested in assisting me with the writing of the petition.

That’s some of the news from the East Mojave. Spring lies just ahead and we might all want to start doing a rain dance so we have a spring bloom. But then again, there’s always November. ~ Jim Andre

Upcoming Field Trips 
and Events: 

Note: If you would like updates on spur-of-the moment trips and conservation updates that do not make it into the newsletter, please email .

Note: Although CNPS encourages sharing rides, we cannot arrange carpools. On any trip, be prepared! Bring plenty of water, food, hat, sunscreen, and emergency supplies, and be sure to dress for any type of unpredictable Mojave Desert weather. Contact trip leaders for more information.

May 19-21 - San Bernardino Mountains Wildflower Weekend: Blue Sky Meadow Science Camp at Cienega Seca, high in the San Bernardino Mountains above Big Bear, will be the setting for the first wildflower weekend workshop sponsored by the Mojave Desert Chapter of CNPS and the Blue Sky Meadow Science Institute. The San Bernardinos are renowned for their plant diversity in that they have the highest mainland rare plant concentration in the United States. Field trips will be held on Friday evening, all day Saturday and half day on Sunday. The $80 fee includes two nights in dorm style cabins (similar to the Bristlecone sojourn). Food is not included, but could be arranged depending on the number of participants. Make checks out to L.A. County Education Foundation/Blue Sky Meadow, Box 2860 Big Bear City, CA 92314. Please email your reservations to

Botanical Illustration Courses: Two opportunities are coming up during the height of the 2006 blooming season in the Mojave Desert to study alongside other biologists, writers, and artists, while helping increase the native flora visual data base. Help promote native plant conservation through the arts while having fun in the great outdoors. College credit is optional. The instructor is Donald Davidson, Artist-in-the-Park at the Mojave National Preserve, , . An exhibition of Davidson's watercolor illustrations of wildflowers native to the East Mojave Desert will be on exhibit starting February 1 at Death Valley National Park Visitor Center.

BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION OF DESERT FLORA, MARCH 17-19, BIG MORONGO CANYON PRESERVE, ART X454.5, University of California-Riverside,, , (951) 827-5804.

BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION OF NATIVE DESERT FLORA, APRIL 7-9, DESERT STUDIES CENTER, MOJAVE NATIONAL PRESERVE, ART 1509, California State University-San Bernardino, cel@csusb, , (909)537-5975.

Victor Valley College trip to Peru: Once again, VVC is offering an international natural history course (Biology 98 for non-credit, Biology 250 for biology transfer credit), this time to Peru. Accompany professional botanists, ornithologists, and zoologists in exploring the upper Amazon Basin by boat in search of plants, primates, birds, and other wildlife, then travel on to Macchu Picchu to marvel at the Incan Ruins. After that, journey through the northern Atacama Desert to board boats for an island where penguins dwell. The cost of the trip is approximately $3100, which includes airfare, lodging, food, and on-the-ground transportation. There are four Tuesday evening pre-trip lectures (non-mandatory if you take the non-credit option), and the trip is slated for June 17-27. Contact Pam MacKay for a complete itinerary and to register: or Your $200 deposit will hold your place and must be received in February. The balance is due by the end of March.

Grant Opportunity

The Community Foundation Serving Riverside and San Bernardino Counties is accepting applications for the California Desert Research Fund (CDRF) for $1,000 - $4000 per award to support graduate student scientific research that contributes to the awareness and conservation of desert parks, wilderness, and other natural open spaces in the California desert. The Fund will support scientific research projects and collaborations in San Bernardino, Riverside, Inyo, and Imperial Counties within federally designated wilderness areas and wilderness study areas in the California Desert. Students must be enrolled in a university while conducting their scientific research. Applications must be submitted to The Community Foundation by February 28, 2006.  Final awards will be made by April 3, 2006. To download a copy of the CDRF guidelines and application form, please visit our website at . For more information, contact Celia Cudiamat, Director of Grant Programs, at 951 684-4194 or send an e-mail at

Desert Symposium at Zzyzx, April 21-24, 2006: The symposium will feature current research on archaeology, anthropology, paleontology, geology, ecology, biological sciences, and environmental issues. Abstracts of the proceedings and a field trip guide will be published. The fee includes registration, meals, and overnight accommodation at DSC. Option I: Thursday night through Saturday lunch: $95. Option II: Friday through Saturday lunch: $85. Option III: Thursday night through Sunday lunch: $140. Option IV: Friday through Sunday lunch: $130. Registration must be received by Friday, April 5, 2006. For more information contact Dr. William Presch, Director Desert Studies, Department Biological Sciences, California State University, Fullerton, California 92834, 714-278 2215,