I went looking for C. longebarbatus var. longebarbatus in Modoc County (Northeast California) yesterday and didn’t have any luck. To start, I had a difficult time finding current information on this lily. All I came up with was a CalFlora entry dating to 2008 as well as online photographs of its habitat from 2010 (meadows surrounded by pine trees, vernal pools in the meadows). I was able to get to the exact location of the CalFlora photo but I ran into a few problems. One, the vernal pools were mostly dried up and the meadows were dry as well, and two, they were severely trampled by grazing cattle. Perhaps drought has accelerated the drier conditions, perhaps cattle were responsible, perhaps the pine trees drink up the ground water, perhaps this is a normal year, or none or all of the above.
Vernal pool with cattle footprints. It’s hard to tell, but some were 3-4″ deep. Every vernal pool I encountered looked like this. Here’s a 2010 photo of a vernal pool taken in the same area.
Click on this 2008 photo link to see the difference. I swear it’s the same meadow!
Third, I have been successful corresponding with government agencies to confirm flower locations and bloom times, and I blew it this time and didn’t reach out. I did snap some photos of the stunning Calochortus macrocarpus growing among the sagebrush nearby (hence its common name, the Sagebrush Mariposa lily!) and then stopped at Lava Beds National Monument on my way home to have a picnic.
Photos taken at Lava Beds National Monument and in Modoc County, 21 July 2016.
Agastache parvifolia (smelled delicious) on the left, Schonchin Butte at Lava Beds NM on the right. The best time to see C. macrocarpus at Lava Beds is in early to mid-July.
I am really hoping to see C. subalpinus near Mt. Hood in the coming days but I’m not sure I can make it there so this may have been my last Calochortus adventure of the season…