Plant Guide to Palm Springs Tramway Sidewalk, San Jacinto Mountains

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

The 11 Species On This Sidewalk
The Plant Guide


See An updated version of the flora for this area; the guide below does not yet have the latest additions.

This guide is to the plant species alongside the concrete sidewalk from the upper Palm Springs Tramway Station that leads down into Long Valley. It lists the first occurrence of each species encountered along the sidewalk, which makes it easy for a novice botanist to learn the plant species here.

This guide makes it easy to recognize the species here, since there are only 13 species total on the trail, each of which is very different from each other. You should be able to easily pick out the different species by following along the guide. It wouldn't hurt if, before your trip, you studied the linked picture of each species given in the table below.

Unlike the other plant trail guides, which are measured in units of 0.01 mile, this plant trail guide gives the number of steps between entries in the guide, which are either plant species or switchbacks in the sidewalk. This approach should work better for most people, due to the shortness of the sidewalk and the ease of counting steps between entries.

Also unlike other plant trail guides, we make no distinction between plants you can touch from the sidewalk and plants that you have to go off the sidewalk a bit to touch.

This guide was made from a single walk on 16 August 2007, which was a very dry year, augmented by two species added in many additional trips that may be seen only in wetter years. Of course, plants might change their appearance over time, and some may no longer be present because they die out, are eaten by deer or gophers, or removed by human activities. However, most plants stubbornly persist in the exact same location over long time periods.

The 13 Species On This Sidewalk

The pictures are all from Michael Charter's site. Note that Michael's closeup pictures sometimes make the flowers appear much more impressive than they do in the field! Eventually we will add pictures of the actual plants here.

#Common NameScientific NameCharacteristicsPix
1Jeffrey pinePinus jeffreyiTree, long needles in bundles of 3, large pine cones almost as wide as longneedles
2curl-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus ledifoliusSmall tree, shrub, with short narrow leaves, small white flowers followed by seeds with long feathery white tailsleaves and seeds
3San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrushChrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. bernardinusShrub with white stems and long narrow green leaves, bright yellow flowersflowers, plant, stems, leaves
4Grinnell's beardtonguePenstemon grinnellii var. grinnelliiPerennial with bright green opposite leaves and showy white / lavender / purple flowersflowers
5San Jacinto Mts. keckiellaKeckiella rothrockii var. jacintensisShrub with tiny leaves and very small yellow/red/brown flowersflowers, leaves
6white firAbies concolorTree, short solitary needlesneedles
7canyon live oakQuercus chrysolepisShrub, tree, with almost round leaves dark green above and whitish or goldish belowleaves and acorn
8wild tarragonArtemisia dracunculusSkinny tall stems with long narrow leavesflowers
9Fremont's goosefootChenopodium fremontiiSkinny tall stems with delta-shaped leaves, 1 to 1.5 times longer than wideleaves and flower buds
10goldenrodSolidago californicaPerennial with large alternate leaves and a mass of showy tiny yellow flowers bunched at the top of its stemsflowers, plant, leaves
11granite prickly phloxLeptodactylon pungensMatted perennial with prickly short leaves and white flowersflowers, leaves
12short-flowered monardellaMonardella nana ssp. tenuifloraShort stems with heads of white flowers with long narrow basesleaves and flowers
13Parish's bedstrawGalium parishiiMatted plant with very small leaves in whorls of four at each stem, with one pair of leaves usually somewhat larger than the other pair, and very tiny greenish-white flowersflowers

The Plant Guide

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (2 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (1 double-sided page). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

Here is an example of how to use the guide. You begin at the Jeffrey pine on your left, which is the only Jeffrey pine noted in the guide. There are lots of Jeffrey pines along this sidewalk; the estimate I put in the guide is 20 plants in at least 9 locations. After the Jeffrey pine, you have to walk 20 steps to the next species, the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany, which you'll find on your right. There are about 10 plants of this species in at least 4 locations. Also on the right, next to the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany, are the San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrush and the Grinnell's beardtongue. Immediately following those species the concrete sidewalk makes a sharp curve left, which is called a switchback.

An explanation of all the columns is at the end of the guide.

# StepsS# Common NameLatin Name#here#all
0l  Begin guide at top of concrete sidewalk next to Tram Elevator Entrance; elevation ~8500 feet (2591 m)
0l1 Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi20 / 992
20r2 curl-leaf mountain-mahogany Cercocarpus ledifolius10 / 419
0r3 San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. bernardinus30 / 966
0b4 Grinnell's beardtongue Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii20 / 546
0r5 San Jacinto Mts. keckiella Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis2 / 234
0   Switchback left
13r6 white fir Abies concolor5 / 594
16   Switchback right
28r7 canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis2 / 281
0   Switchback left
44l8 wild tarragon Artemisia dracunculus3 / 284
8   Switchback right
60   Switchback left
54   Switchback right
20r9 Fremont's goosefoot Chenopodium fremontii1 / 145
84l  closest canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis /  
19r10 goldenrod Solidago californica10 / 1106
0r11 granite prickly phlox Leptodactylon pungens2 / 242
 r12 short-flowered monardella Monardella nana ssp. tenuiflora4 / 144
46r13 Parish's bedstraw Galium parishii1 / 133
78l  Sign: "Trail information"; end guide

# Steps: The number of steps from the previous entry in the guide to the current entry. Your mileage (aka step size) may vary!

S: Side of trail on which the first occurrence is found: left, right, both, or center

#: Species are numbered in order of first occurrence on trail.

#here gives the minimum number of on-trail plants of this species on this trail, with the number of locations on this trail following the /, using maximum values of 99/9. 1/1 means a single plant in a single location; 10/9 means 10 plants occurring in at least 9 locations, etc.

#all gives the number of plant trail guides, from all over southern California, that contain this taxon.

I thank Paula Knoll for suggesting adding the link to pictures, which stimulated the addition of the entire section devoted to the characteristics of the 11 species.

Go to:

Copyright © 2007-2012 by Tom Chester and Dave Stith.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 12 August 2012.