Salvia pachyphylla in California

ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)July 24, 2008

Today (23 Jul 2008) we found a spectactular display of Salvia pachyphylla in the Santa Rosa Mtns., Riverside Co., Calif. The photos don't do them justice, since the photos don't show the deep, luminous purple of the flowers. We found this plant to be abundant in the high elevations of this range. The highest peaks of the Santa Rosa Mtns. are Toro Pk., 8716 ft., and Santa Rosa Pk., 8070 ft. A special pleasure was the numerous Selasphorus hummingbirds (most of them probably Rufous, though a few Allen's are possible) that were zipping and squealing as they contested possession of the flowers.

This photo at 33.53393 N, 116.47828 W, 7098 ft. elev. +- 49 ft.

Same location as preceding:

The following two photos are at 33.53601 N, 116.47414 W, 7187 ft. elev. +- 23 ft.

This photo taken along Hwy 38, between South Fork and Heart Bar campgrounds, San Bernardino Mtns., San Bernardino Co., Calif. 24 May 2008. 34.18582 N, 116.75532 W, 8284 ft. elev. +- 36 ft. The plants at this location were not in flower then, but they probably are now.

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Pure stands of sage in the wild are quite remarkable when you come upon them. One of these days I'll get some rose sage growing in my yard.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 7:08PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

I tried twice and failed to grow cuttings from the San Bernardino Mtns. populations.

I have to make a correction: location of the photo of the leaves is near Onyx Summit, San Bernardino Mtns. GPS coordinates are 34.18582 N, 116.71532 W. I took photos of S. pachyphylla more than one place that day and got confused over which plant was in the photo.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 9:04PM
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I have a single plant in its second year in a xeric spot here in New Jersey. It is great see what they can do in a proper climate because I suspect mine will never bloom.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 8:06AM
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I enjoyed your photos. Thank you for sharing them.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:38AM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

wardda: I'd think humidity and hot summer nights would be your main hazard. At 7000 ft and above in the Santa Rosa Mtns., these plants see significant, though occasional, winter snow and days that remain below freezing. Precip is mostly in the winter and spring, with occasional summer thunderstorms. There are no nearby weather stations, but I suspect that annual precip averages below 25", probably less than 20". When it's not raining, this place is very dry. Summer nights should drop into the 40s and below, with large daily variation. These plants get lots and lots of sun in all seasons. It was in the 70s and absolutely perfect when I took those photos. North, east and south of the Santa Rosa Mtns. is desert.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 10:49AM
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That is what Richard said in another discussion of the sage. The photo clearly indicates the plants are situated at the lower edge of the conifer zone.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 11:49AM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Good observations, wardda. The first and second photos are less than 1 mile apart, and the change of elevation is small, but the first photo is in the upper reaches of chaparral (with a few pines mixed in) on a south and westerly exposure, and the other is in coniferous forest on a north-facing slope, which automatically tends to cooler-type vegetation. The pines are Jeffrey pine, Pinus jeffreyi, which is common in mountains from southern Oregon into Baja California. The prominent tree in the left-middle foreground is incense-cedar, Libocedrus decurrens, another Oregon to Baja Calif. tree. I've been told by a botanist that there are a few limber pines, Pinus flexilis, on the summit of Toro Pk. Further east along the road from the photo locations, S. pachyphylla is common in clearings in the forest.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:09PM
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