New Species for San Jacinto Mountain Found in Our Surveys

In the course of our surveys, we have discovered 12 species not previously known from the San Jacinto Mountains in floras or in vouchers at the Consortium of California Herbaria. Those 12 species are shown in Fig. 1, listed in Table 1, and discussed below.

In addition, we discovered another x species that at the time had no vouchers for them here. Subsequently, vouchers have come to light for them. They are discussed on a separate webpage.

Orobanche uniflora

Oxypolis occidentalis
Fig. 1. Pictures of the new species for San Jacinto Mountain found in our surveys. Click on the pictures for larger versions which may also show a different view of the species.

Table 1. New Plant Species Records for San Jacinto Mountain From Our Surveys

FamilyScientific NameCommon NameYear DiscoveredNotes
AspleniaceaeAsplenium septentrionale 2008New record for all of southern California; disjunct from Tulare County, California and northern Baja Mexico.
PteridaceaeAspidotis densa 2012Only other occurrence in southern California is Cuyamaca Mountain in San Diego County.
ApiaceaeOxypolis occidentalis 2008This is its southernmost locality.
AsteraceaeAgeratina occidentalis 2009Only other location in southern California is the San Gabriel Mountains, disjunct from the Sierra Nevada. SnJt is its southernmost locality.
BoraginaceaeCryptantha affinis 2010 
BrassicaceaeCardamine californica  Flowers are pink-purple, not the usual white.
OrobancheaeOrobanche uniflora 2011 
PlantaginaceaeCollinsia torreyi var. wrightii 2010This is its southernmost locality.
RanunculaceaeDelphinium cardinale   
SaxifragaceaeMicranthes nidifica
(Saxifraga nidifica)
 2011New record for southern California
AlliaceaeAllium monticola  This is its southernmost locality.
PoaceaeMelica stricta  This is its southernmost locality.
PoaceaeFestuca rubra  This is its southernmost locality.


Asplenium septentrionale (L.) Hoffm.
On July 23, 2008, Tom Chester, Dave Stith, James Dillane, and Eric Baecht were searching the exposed north facing granite ridge east of the saddle between Tahquitz Peak and Red Tahquitz Peak colloquially known as “The Hole in the Wall” for Potentilla rimicola when James remarkably spotted a clump of A. septentrionale growing at the base of the cliff. The Flora of North America states that, “Because of its close resemblance to a tuft of grass, it is easily overlooked.” James then ascended a diagonal fissure in the cliff and counted a total of eleven plants.

A. septentrionale occurs in Europe and Asia as well as North America. In North America it occurs primarily in the western states of the U.S. and northern Baja California on cliffs of various substrates. The nearest vouchered location is at Columbine Lake in Tulare County, California. This is not only a new record for the San Jacintos but also for all of Southern California.

Aspidotis densa (Brack.) Lellinger
On September 17, 2012, Tom Chester, Dave Stith, James Dillane, and Jim Roberts made the long hike from Idyllwild to the head of Andreas Canyon on the east side of the San Jacintos. On the north side of Andreas where the vertical cliffs begin to rise above the forest Dave spotted several plants peeking out from under the rocks on the forest floor that he first thought were Cryptogramma but were instead A. densa. Since he had not seen this species before he counted each one that he could find to a total of 96 plants.

A. densa has the whimsical name Indian’s dream. It occurs on slopes, crevices, and rocky outcrops from California to Southwestern Canada and the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, Canada. The only other occurrence in Southern California is Cuyamaca Mountain in San Diego County.


Oxypolis occidentalis J. M. Coult. & Rose
On July 11, 2008, James Dillane pointed out some obscure pinnate leaves in a bog at Wellmans Cienega to Tom Chester, Dave Stith, and Michael Charters, but without a flower none of them had a clue what it might be. James dubbed them the WUNK for Wellmans UNKnown. Tom and Dave subsequently found more in the vegetative state in a boggy area below Little Round Valley, and Dave found some in a drainage along the Seven Pines Trail below the Deer Springs Camp. We checked them again at Wellmans Cienega on September 3, 2010, and not a single plant had produced anything other than leaves coming from below ground. On September 14, 2010 Tom and Dave returned to the Seven Pines Trail location and finally found a small number of plants with blooms and fruit that solved the mystery two years and two months later.

O. occidentalis grows in bogs, wet meadows and stream sides in California Oregon and British Columbia. The nearest occurrences to San Jacinto are in the San Bernardino Mountains. This is its southernmost locality.

Ageratina occidentalis (Hook.) R. M. King & H. Rob
On August 17, 2009, Tom Chester, Mike Crouse, and Dave Stith found what they first thought were Brickellia growing along the south rocky wall just above Tahquitz Creek 0.24 miles below the confluence with Willow Creek in an area of exposed steep rocks and waterfalls. The small sample that Tom collected did not key out to Brickellia but instead to A. occidentalis which isn’t in southern California according to Munz and the Jepson Manual.

On August 25, 2009, Tom, Dave, RT Hawke, and Shaun Hawke went back specifically to survey more areas and to voucher an entire plant including the rhizome. They found a total of 41 plants in three very nearby locations. There were 28 plants in the area immediately next to the creek, 10 plants atop a steep-sloped boulder face perhaps 10 feet above the creek, and 3 plants growing along a mossy crack in a boulder face another 10 feet higher.

A. occidentalis is a disjunct from the Sierra Nevada and north to Washington, Idaho, and Utah. It grows in alpine rocky sites, montane chaparral, and conifer forests. There are currently 4 vouchers listed on the California Consortium of Herbaria from the Transverse Ranges in southern California, but this is the first record in the San Jacintos and the southernmost extension of its range.

Cryptantha affinis (A. Gray) Greene
On July 13, 2010, Tom Chester along with Dave Stith, James Dillane, and Pam Pallette spotted C. affinis in a dry area next to a very wet drainage on the Seven Pines Trail.

It grows in open areas of conifer forests and chaparral. It is vouchered in the San Bernardinos to the north and Cuyamaca to the south.

Cardamine californica (Nutt.) Greene
On (date) Tom Chester along with Dave Stith and (who) identified C. californica on the Spitler Peak Trail simply from its leaves. Tom and Dave returned on (when) to see it in bloom.

The flowers are most often white elsewhere, and these are pink/purple. The Jepson Manual says white to pale rose, so that still fits. It is found throughout California up to an elevation of 8200 feet, so it is not surprising to see it in the San Jacintos. It is often photographed as Dave has been shown photos of these very plants on more than one occasion and asked about their determination. However, there are no vouchers from the area, so it is presented here for the record.

Orobanche uniflora L.
On June 8, 2011, Tom Chester and Dave Stith descended into the treacherous Strawberry Creek Grotto south of Idyllwild looking for Sedum spathulifolium and as a bonus found its parasite O. uniflora growing among them.

Also known as one-flowered broomrape, it occurs in color phases from white to purple with 1-3 flower stalks. These were of the purple variety with mostly 2 flower stalks.

It occurs in moist places on herbs especially Sedum, Saxifragaceae, and Asteraceae from California to the Yukon Territory and eastern North America. The nearest vouchers are in the San Bernardino Mountains to the north and the Cuyamaca Mountains to the south.

Collinsia torreyi A. Gray var. wrightii (S. Watson) I. M. Johnston
On July 13, 2010, Tom Chester, Dave Stith, James Dillane, and Pam Pallette found a field of Wright’s collinsia on the Seven Pines Trail just before the second crossing of the North Fork of the San Jacinto River.

C. torreyi var. wrightii is found in coniferous forests often in sandy, granitic soils in the Klamath Ranges, High North Coast Ranges, High Cascade Range, High Sierra Nevada, Transverse Ranges, and Modoc Plateau. The nearest vouchers to the San Jacintos are in the San Bernardino Mountains. This is a southernmost extension of its range.

Delphinium cardinale Hook.
These (how many?) were spotted on the Spitler Peak Trail(?or where?) by Tom Chester and Dave Stith (and who?) on (when). While working as a botanist for the US Forest Service Jordan Zylstra knew of these plants prior to the authors, but as of this writing there is no record online of Scarlet larkspur in the San Jacintos.

D. cardinale is most often seen on talus slopes of the chaparral in the Cismontane Region of Southern California and in Baja California, Mexico. The Baja populations may represent a distinct entity requiring further study.

Micranthes nidifica (Greene) Small
On June 8, 2011, while Tom Chester and Dave Stith were documenting Sedum spathulatum and its parasite Orobanche uniflora in the Strawberry Creek Grotto, Tom spotted Micranthes nidifica formerly named Saxifraga nidifica which is another plant that is parasitized by O. uniflora. Neither Tom nor Dave had ever seen S. nidifica which according to the Jepson Manual does not occur in Southern California or even Saxifraga californica which does, so it was not abundantly clear of the correct determination simply from Tom’s photographs.

On July 15, 2011, Tom, Dave, and James Dillane returned to this most unusual habitat for the San Jacintos with the main purpose of measuring the style length in fruit to confirm the determination of S. nidifica. James who actually has seen S. californica said that this plant didn’t look anything like the S. californica he’d seen in Southern California.

Tom and Adrienne Ballwey saw the real Peak saxifrage M. nidifica in the Sierra Nevadas on May 19, 2013, so on May 28, 2013, Tom and Adrienne along with Dave returned once more to collect a physical voucher.

M. nidifica occurs in wet meadows and slopes. This is a very disjunct location from the rest of the population. The closest vouchered plant is from Mineral King in King’s Canyon National Park in Sierra Nevada 210 miles to the north.


Allium monticola Davidson
Tom Chester and James Dillane first found these on the Pacific Crest Trail between the Zen Center Trail and the Spitler Peak Trail. Tom, Dave Stith, and others have subsequently seen them farther south on the trail along on the Desert Divide.

A. monticola is classified as uncommon and only known on rocky ridges and talus slopes in southern California from the Transverse Ranges and the northwest Peninsular Range in Orange County. The nearest vouchers are in the Santa Ana Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains. This is a southernmost extension of their range.

Melica stricta Bol.
This is its southernmost location.

Festuca rubra
Tarja Sagar and Tom Chester found two plants of this species on a north-facing vertical cliff of Yale Peak.

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Updated 6 August 2016.