Plant Guide to Palm Springs Tramway Sidewalk, San Jacinto Mountains

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

The 14 Species On This Sidewalk
The Plant Guide


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. We do still list plants as being off-trail if they are not easily reached from the sidewalk.

This guide was made from 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, and another walk on 3 August 2012. 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 plant trail guide was updated from 3 August 2012 walk, but the rest of this guide was not.

This version has been converted to the 2012 Jepson Manual Second Edition plant species names.

The 14 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 rabbitbrushEricameria nauseosa var. bernardina Shrub 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
9sugar pinePinus lambertianaTall tree often with very long pine cones at the drooping tips of its brancheshabit with cones
10Fremont's goosefootChenopodium fremontiiSkinny tall stems with delta-shaped leaves, 1 to 1.5 times longer than wideleaves and flower buds
11goldenrodSolidago velutina ssp. californicaPerennial with large alternate leaves and a mass of showy tiny yellow flowers bunched at the top of its stemsflowers, plant, leaves
12granite prickly phloxLinanthus pungensMatted perennial with prickly short leaves and white flowersflowers, leaves
13short-flowered monardellaMonardella nanaShort stems with heads of white flowers with long narrow basesleaves and flowers
14Parish'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

See a family order version of the flora for this area, and a print version that has the tram plant trail guide, the long valley nature trail, and this desert view 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 many Jeffrey pines along this sidewalk; the estimate we put in the guide is 20 plants in at least 9 locations. At about 3 steps after the Jeffrey pine, there are two species visible in the distance to your right, sugar pine and green-leaf manzanita. You then have to walk 15 steps to the next species, the Grinnell's beardtongue. After two more steps you'll find the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany on your right. There are at least 20 plants of this species in at least 4 locations. Also on the right, next to the curl-leaf mountain-mahogany, is the San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrush. 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#id?Common NameLatin Name#here
0lBegin guide at top of concrete sidewalk next to Tram Elevator Entrance; elevation ~8500 feet (2591 m)
0l1Jeffrey pinePinus jeffreyi20 / 9
3r(sugar pine, Pinus lambertiana at top of ridge; green-leaf manzanita, Arctostaphylos patula 20 feet uphill on closed access road)
15b2Grinnell's beardtonguePenstemon grinnellii var. grinnellii99 / 5
2Switchback left
0r3curl-leaf mountain-mahoganyCercocarpus ledifolius20 / 4
0r4San Bernardino rubber rabbitbrushEricameria nauseosa var. bernardina99 / 9
13r6white firAbies concolor8 / 5
16Switchback right
20r5San Jacinto Mts. keckiellaKeckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis20 / 2
8r7canyon live oakQuercus chrysolepis5 / 2
0Switchback left
44l8wild tarragonArtemisia dracunculus3 / 2
7l9sugar pinePinus lambertiana3 / 1
1Switchback right
60Switchback left
30l10Fremont's goosefootChenopodium fremontii3 / 1
24Switchback right
86r(Parish's campion, Silene parishii)
0r(Parish's bedstraw, Galium parishii)
17r11goldenrodSolidago velutina ssp. californica30 / 1
13r12granite prickly phloxLinanthus pungens10 / 2
0r13short-flowered monardellaMonardella nana12 / 1
l(Parish's snowberry, Symphoricarpos rotundifolius var. parishii)
42r14Parish's bedstrawGalium parishii15 / 1
18l(woodland spurge, Euphorbia lurida; wax currant, Ribes cereum var. cereum)
20r(mountain California-fuchsia, Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)
2r(California coffeeberry, Frangula californica)
21lSign: "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.

We 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. We thank Bill Bulger for finding the Epilobium canum off-trail.

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Copyright © 2007-2017 by Tom Chester, Dave Stith, James Dillane and Keir Morse.
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 1 July 2017.