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 Name Scientific Name Characteristics Pix 1 Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi Tree, long needles in bundles of 3, large pine cones almost as wide as long needles 2 curl-leaf mountain-mahogany Cercocarpus ledifolius Small tree, shrub, with short narrow leaves, small white flowers followed by seeds with long feathery white tails leaves and seeds 3 San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. bernardinus Shrub with white stems and long narrow green leaves, bright yellow flowers flowers, plant, stems, leaves 4 Grinnell's beardtongue Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii Perennial with bright green opposite leaves and showy white / lavender / purple flowers flowers 5 San Jacinto Mts. keckiella Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis Shrub with tiny leaves and very small yellow/red/brown flowers flowers, leaves 6 white fir Abies concolor Tree, short solitary needles needles 7 canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis Shrub, tree, with almost round leaves dark green above and whitish or goldish below leaves and acorn 8 wild tarragon Artemisia dracunculus Skinny tall stems with long narrow leaves flowers 9 Fremont's goosefoot Chenopodium fremontii Skinny tall stems with delta-shaped leaves, 1 to 1.5 times longer than wide leaves and flower buds 10 goldenrod Solidago californica Perennial with large alternate leaves and a mass of showy tiny yellow flowers bunched at the top of its stems flowers, plant, leaves 11 granite prickly phlox Leptodactylon pungens Matted perennial with prickly short leaves and white flowers flowers, leaves 12 short-flowered monardella Monardella nana ssp. tenuiflora Short stems with heads of white flowers with long narrow bases leaves and flowers 13 Parish's bedstraw Galium parishii Matted 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 flowers flowers
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.
# Steps S # Common Name Latin Name #here #all 0 l Begin guide at top of concrete sidewalk next to Tram Elevator Entrance; elevation ~8500 feet (2591 m) 0 l 1 Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi 20 / 9 92 20 r 2 curl-leaf mountain-mahogany Cercocarpus ledifolius 10 / 4 19 0 r 3 San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. bernardinus 30 / 9 66 0 b 4 Grinnell's beardtongue Penstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii 20 / 5 46 0 r 5 San Jacinto Mts. keckiella Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis 2 / 2 34 0 Switchback left 13 r 6 white fir Abies concolor 5 / 5 94 16 Switchback right 28 r 7 canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis 2 / 2 81 0 Switchback left 44 l 8 wild tarragon Artemisia dracunculus 3 / 2 84 8 Switchback right 60 Switchback left 54 Switchback right 20 r 9 Fremont's goosefoot Chenopodium fremontii 1 / 1 45 84 l closest canyon live oak Quercus chrysolepis / 19 r 10 goldenrod Solidago californica 10 / 1 106 0 r 11 granite prickly phlox Leptodactylon pungens 2 / 2 42 r 12 short-flowered monardella Monardella nana ssp. tenuiflora 4 / 1 44 46 r 13 Parish's bedstraw Galium parishii 1 / 1 33 78 l 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.
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.