Wednesday, August 22, 2018

2018 Wildflowers in Mono County's Conway Summit

A profusion of blooms in a short stretch of the road!

A return visit to Conway Summit a few weeks later in July found even more wildflowers in bloom.  So many different species were thriving at an elevation around 8,143 feet (2,482 m) in a short stretch of the road to Virginia Lake, just off U.S. 395 in Mono County, California.  

Wildflowers in the Conway Summit, California

The first to catch my eyes were the blues, lavenders, and yellows.  

Sulpher Buckwheat, Silvery Lupine, Showy Milkweed

The yellow was Sulfur Buckwheat, Eriogonum umbellatum, a species of wild buckwheat. This  plant was used by Native Americans for a number of medical purposes.  

The blue flowers were the Silvery Lupine, Lupinus argenteus, which is in the legume family.

Silvery Lupine, Lupinus argenteus

The lavender-purple was the California Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, which is a great pollinator for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.  The fibers from this plant were used by Native Americans to make ropes, nets and other items.

California Showy Milkweed, Asclepias speciosa

Across the road there was a thick cluster of showy red flowers, the Desert Paintbrush, Castilleja chromosa.

Desert Paintbrush, Castilleja chromosa

Desert Paintbrush flowers are edible in small amounts and contain selenium.

Desert Paintbrush, Castilleja chromosa

Small yellow flowers of the Five Finger Cinquefoil, Potentilla erecta, stood out from green, five-parted leaves.  For such a tiny plant, this Cinquefoil has a number of interesting uses.  It offers an important food source to pollinators, rabbits and other wild critters.  Furthermore, its young shoots are eaten with salads and it is even used in magic spells to ward off evil. 

Five Finger Cinquefoil, Potentilla erecta

A nice grouping of Skyrocket or Scarlet gilia, Ipomopis aggregate flowered against the rocky bank of the road.   

Skyrocket or Scarlet gilia, Ipomopis aggregate

The Nude Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum, named for its naked stem was growing in numerous places.  At least one butterfly subspecies (Apodemia mormo langei) uses naked buckwheat as its primary food source. 

Nude Buckwheat, Eriogonum nudum

Further along the road, I noticed a flowering plant that almost looked like a small bush.  Spreading dogbane, or the fly-trap dogbane, Apocynum androsaemifolium, is a flowering plant in the Gentianales order. All parts of the plant are poisonous, however it was used by Native Americans for a number of ailments.   

Spreading dogbane, Apocynum androsaemifolium

Just as I was about to run out of wildflowers, I saw tall stalks of white flowers growing profusely along the slopes of the roadside.

Bonnie Rannald photographing Sierra Angelica on Conway Summit

The Sierra Angelica, Angelica lineariloba, is native to the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada at 6000 to 10,600’ elevations.   

Sierra Angelica, Angelica lineariloba

The afternoon was growing long with more smoke and haze drifting in from the California wildfires.  It was time to call a wrap to this awesome photo-adventure.  I took a chance on a return visit to this area of wildflowers and sure was not disappointed with the results.  If this warming trend continues, I might just return again to see what else might be flowering as the Indian Summer approaches.   

Wildflowers, Conway Summit, California

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