Saturday, September 29, 2012

elegant piperia ~ 09/29/12 ~ Rocky Creek

It's funny how once you notice something, you start seeing it all over the place.  We weren't expecting to see any orchids this late in the year, then I found a small cluster of five of these elegant rein orchids.  On our return hike back down a 3.4 mile road, we ended up seeing them in numerous places, all on north-facing slopes.  The one dated record I could quickly find for the region, linked from Jepson eFlora, was made by Ivar Tidestrom on October 11, 1893 at Point Lobos. 1893!?!  Very cool.  I love how records are increasingly available online.

ps 10/02/12 - I stopped by Skyline Forest Drive this evening to see if any elegants were blooming. When we were on a Yadon's piperia hunt back in the summer of 2010, I checked the progress of a small area of elegants here on July 25, August 4, August 9, and August 27.  Today there was nothing, zip, nada.  The only herbaceous greenery I found were one bunch of sedges near a storm drain and pockets of heavily browsed and browning Asteraceae.  I couldn't even find evidence of any seed pods for elegant or Yadon's.  I wonder if the extremely dry year kept them from coming up.

pss 10/06/12 - I'm always amazed at the e-mail conversations I get into when I start searching for information. While looking for links to other pictures for this post, I came across an outlier on CalPhotos.  I e-mailed the photographer to query him about the accuracy of his ID.  Come to find out he's a retired ranger for Henry Coe State Park.  In his 30 years of experience there and knowing other botanists who ID'd piperias at Coe Park spanning the same amount of time, he agreed with me that the reported and photographed elegant piperia is actually Piperia elongata. I don't consider myself a botanist in any regard, so I take a breath before questioning 30 years of reported information. I do think access to online records makes double-checking IDs that much easier.

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