|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 226 July 1, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
From 5-22 March 1982 Chris Brayshaw, Dekalb Russell, an apple grower and fervent naturalist from West Virginia, and I botanized in southern Chile, concentrating on Myrtaceae, conifers, and monogeneric families (the #-marked below) or monotypic, often endemic genera (the *-marked below). Some sought-after plants such as Gomortega keule* (Gomortegaceae#) we saw only in the splendid botanical garden at Valdivia. We camped several times but otherwise spent nights in low-cost shelters (refugios) and especially inexpensive hotels and motels.
We escaped Santiago the capitol as quickly as possible, heading south on the Pan-American highway to Valdivia 835 km south. Other than remnant espinal (Acacia caven woodland) there is little to see along the highway until around Collipulli, some 575 km south of Santiago because the roadside vegetation has been badly mangled.
The Lake Region south of Valdivia, especially Lago Llanquihue, is very pretty, but the vegetation has been greatly disturbed by farming, particularly dairying. However, the flanks of Volcan Osorno (2661 m) are nicely intact. Plants of interest here, many especially from an alien northern-hemisphere perspective, included: Coriaria ruscifolia (Coriariaceae#), Embothrium coccineum (Proteaceae), Empetrum rubrum (Empetraceae), Eucryphia cordifolia (Eucryphiaceae#), Euphrasia trifida (Scrophulariaceae), Gevuina avellana* (Proteaceae), Griselinia ruscifolia (Cornaceae), Misodendrum linearifolium (Misodendraceae#) parasitic on Nothofagus dombeyi (Fagaceae), Ugni molinae (Myrtaceae), the cushion Nassauvia revoluta (Compositae), Gunnera chilensis and G. magellanica (Gunneraceae#), Laurelia sp. (Monimiaceae), Pernettya myrtilloides (Ericaceae), Quinchamalium ericoides (Santalaceae), Chloraea piquichen (Orchidaceae), Cortaderia sp. (Gramineae), and Philesia magellanica (Philesiaceae).
I found the allerce forest of Fitzroya cupressoides* (Cupressaceae) east of Lenca, about 35 km southeast of Pto. Montt, the most impressive part of the trip. We got permission from the manager of a lumber mill to go onto their private logging road (I forget why there was no logging activity, even though it was the middle of the week). We were offered a jeep but took our cheap rental van, a Furgon Daihatsu, 6 km up the road until it pooped out, camped nearby, and the next morning walked up the steep road to its end at about 800 m el. The flora here was very rich and spectacular, particularly the Fitzroya trees, both the ones still standing and the ones slaughtered. One presumes the trees on the steep slopes of the ravines still survive. At this site there were many pteridophytes (especially Asplenium and Blechnum spp.), many Myrtaceae such as Luma apiculata, Myrceugenia spp., Myrteola nummularia, which is a delightfully delicate prostrate shrub, Tepualia stipularis,* which is the only capsular myrt (subfamily Leptospermoideae) native to the New World, as well as other interesting taxa such as Saxegothaea conspicua* (Podocarpaceae), Aextoxicon punctatum* (Aextoxicaceae#), Asteranthera ovata* (Gesneriaceae), Azara serrata (Flacourtiaceae), Campsidium valdivianum* (Bignoniaceae), Crinodendron hookerianum (Elaeocarpaceae), Desfontainia spinosa (Desfontainiaceae#), Griselinia sp. (Cornaceae), Hydrangea serratifolia (Hydrangeaceae), Mitraria coccinea* (Gesneriaceae), Tristerix (now Macrosolen) tetrandrus (Loranthaceae, parasitic on the Campsidium), and Chusquea (Gramineae). One could easily spend several days in a botanically rich place such as this.
Returning to Santiago and southeast of Collipulli we toured the easily accessible and very spectacular Araucaria araucana forest in Parque National Conguillio on the east flank of Volcan Llaima (3060 m). During out visit, we did not see a single person in the entire park. Here also was Austrocedrus chilensis* (Cupressaceae) and Misodendrum linearifolium (Misodendraceae#) parasitic on Nothofagus antarctica (Fagaceae).
The trip ended with a jaunt to the Farellones, a ski resort area in the Andes just northeast of Santiago. This was also the highest point (3000+ m) of the trip. The lower elevations are covered with mattoral, which is especially impressive with its numerous taxa of columnar cacti, such as Trichocereus sp. parasitized by Tristerix aphyllus (Loranthaceae), and many individuals of Kageneckia angustifolia and K. oblonga (Rosaceae). At our highest elevation around 3000 m prostrate and cushion plants of Calycera sp. (Calyceraceae) and especially the umbels Azorella spp. and Laretia acaulis* were striking. Also here were Ephedra chilensis (Ephedraceae#) and Oxalis geminata (Oxalidaceae).
It was also fascinating to see taxa familiar to us from cultivation but growing wild in Chile, for instance: Calceolaria spp. (Scrophulariaceae), Drimys winteri var. chilensis (Winteraceae), Fuchsia magellanica (Onagraceae), Alstroemeria spp. (Alstroemeriaceae), Lapageria rosea* (Philesiaceae), and so many others. In contrast, we were less enthralled to see familiar Californian taxa such as Eschscholzia californica (Papaveraceae) and especially plantations of Pinus radiata (Pinaceae). The latter have contributed so much to the impoverishment of the native vegetation, such as at the classic collecting site at Corral, down the river from Valdivia.
We never made it to the Juan Fernandez Islands or to Concepcion area. Otherwise these would have figured in the above narrative.
To Chris, the best of birthday wishes for your 80th (on 2 July) from me and all of your plant friends mentioned above.
Near treeline in the mountains of western North America, wherever snowpatches persist well into the summer, one or more of a closely inter-related group of species of Ranunculus is likely to be found (Fisher et al. 1972, Rowley et al. 1975). All seem to require an assured supply of meltwater from adjacent snowpatches. Most occur mainly in full sunlight although one, the well known mountain buttercup R. eschscholtzii, usually barely emerges from partial shade. Although both natural and artificial hybrids connecting the species are always sterile, they do show a closely shared common ancestry. Their chromosome numbers form a polyploid series from 2n=16 to 96, the high number sets probably having evolved step by step by combinations of lower number sets. The actual phylogeny should today be easily determined by DNA analysis.
The best known and most widely ranging of the snowpatch buttercups is R. eschscholtzii Schlecht. This hexaploid (2n=48) was first found near its northern limit on Unalaska Is. in the Aleutians near sealevel but at the southernmost end of its range in N.Mexico it reaches nearly 15000 ft, almost always in moist shady places on the edge of the treeline or not far from it. Measurements have shown that this species requires less light than the others but with running water alongside, it may venture well into the open.
Although Ranunculus eschscholtzii itself is often observed at altitudes as low as 4000 ft in southern British Columbia (BC), probably only one of its six other relatives, the circumpolar R. nivalis L.(2n=96), has been found regularly in BC and only in the far north. The other five diploid and tetraploid species have almost mutually exclusive geographic ranges in the western mountains of the US even though geographically they all overlap R. eschscholtzii; only R. suksdorfii and R. eximius in the south east corner of BC, appear to cross the Canadian border.
There are two western diploids, R. oxynotus Gray of the Sierra Nevada, and R. suksdorfii Gray. This last is well known in the Olympics and Cascades and as far south as the Siskiyou Mts of northern California. But this species also crosses into the Bitterroot Mts of Idaho (and has been reported even in the Flathead and Waterton Lakes region of Canada). Its range forms a big loop back southwards and again westwards into the drier mountains of Idaho and eastern Oregon, and reaches even eastern Nevada. This is a giant horseshoe with differences between its ends.
The eastern populations of R. suksdorfii have formed at least two new geographic races distinguishable as subspecies from the original Cascades version first collected from Mt Hood by Suksdorf. One of these subspecies was originally given full species status as the glaucous R. trisectus Eastwood from Oregon, but genetic studies suggest it to be much more closely related to typical R. suksdorfii further west and it has been accordingly designated as R. suksdorfii subsp. trisectus. A second outlying race of R. suksdorfii occurs in the high mountains of eastern Nevada near the famous Bristlecone Pine population on Mt Wheeler. This has been named R. suksdorfii subsp. caespitosus to reflect its compact bushy form and to distinguish it from the very similar R. adoneus (see below). The populations of R. suksdorfii in Idaho and Montana north of the famous Lewis and Clarke Trail along the Clearwater River probably warrants distinction as yet another subspecific race with its regularly taller habit and less sharply pointed leaf indentations.
The leaf subdivisions of R. suksdorfii subsp. caespitosus are very narrow, almost tubular, so that this glaucous diploid has often been misidentified as R. adoneus Gray which is the magnificent large flowered Rocky Mountain snow-buttercup (sometimes called "The Colorado Buttercup") also possessing very narrow leaf segments. Ranunculus adoneus is found only in the southern Rockies of Wyoming and Colorado and the higher parts of Utah and may even reach northern New Mexico. However R. adoneus is a tetraploid and hence totally separate from its look-alike, the diploid R. suksdorfii subsp. caespitosus from further west.
To almost complete the story there is another tetraploid in the Rockies, R. eximius Greene, which extends from beyond the northern range limit of R. adoneus at Togwotee Pass, from the Grand Tetons, through Yellowstone Park and Montana to the Canadian border (and possibly beyond like R. suksdorfii) and reaches eastwards to the Bighorn Mts of Wyoming. But R. eximius is quite unlike R. adoneus, its fellow tetraploid further south; for its leaves are elliptical and barely divided at all with three to five deep parallel lobes, often giving the appearance of little raised hands. Finally there is a third diploid, R. macauleyi Gray, south of R. adoneus in southern Colorado and New Mexico; this species has long elliptical leaves even narrower than those of R. eximius to the north. However the teeth across the leaf tips of R. macauleyi are very shallow, in some cases almost nonexistent.
In most places these diploids and tetraploids occur at higher altitudes than does the hexaploid R. eschscholtzii so they seldom meet that wide-ranging species because they occur at different levels on the same mountains. However, good evidence has been found to explain anomalous floral changes in R. eschscholtzii (Fisher et al. 1979), whereby apetalous variants have sometimes locally replaced the normally petalled form (apetaly is a regular mutation in R. eschscholtzii but usually at a low frequency). Favorably wet conditions sometimes occur that allow a few colonies of R. eschscholtzii to tolerate even full sunlight beside the normal habitat of the much more numerous diploids (e.g., R. suksdorfii on the Olympics and on Mt Adams) or tetraploids (e.g., R. adoneus at Teton Pass). These sometimes form sterile hybrids with R. eschscholtzii. It has been shown that the large alpine bee-flies (=hover-flies or Syrphidae) seem unable to distinguish one large shining buttercup from another, so that over the years their promiscuity has caused the selective replacement of the normally attractive petalled flowers in R. eschscholtzii by apetalous forms. Normal and viable seed set thus still occurs, even though the usual long range bee-flies avoid the tiny flowers, because short-range pollinators including ants successfully climb up and down adjacent stems. Futile sterile cross pollination of R. eschscholtzii to the diploids or tetraploids is thus avoided even though the keen-eyed Syrphids are busy only a few yards away.
Key to the leaves of Snow Buttercup species and subspecies
(The predominantly far-northern 12-ploid R. nivalis L. [incl.R. sulphureus Soland.ex Phipps] has very distinctive black hairs on the sepals. An outlying population occurs at Beartooth Pass, Wyoming.)
In September, 1991, T.C. Brayshaw collected a modest specimen of Trifolium wormskioldii on Dallas Road, at the west point south of Menzies Street ("along seashore; open, south-facing, eroding bank above beach, mainly grassy" V 151489). As he has been doing for many, many years, with this collection he was helping us, with his careful, meticulous work, to understand our flora better and to document the changes that have occurred to our local ecosystems. We owe him so much for his critical contributions. In the case of this collection, it is particularly significant because, as far as I can determine, it represented the last population of T. wormskioldii along the Victoria waterfront. Bob (Turner) and I went to this site a couple of weeks ago and found and enormous cement storm drain enclosure and no sign of this native clover, although there were plenty of introduced clovers and grasses and even some Camassia, Sanicula bipinnatifida and other characteristic native species in the vicinity.
Trifolium wormskioldii Lehm. was once common - even abundant - all along this stretch of Victoria's coastline. James Douglas, when he arrived here in 1842, commented on the clover, which Chris Brayshaw, Adam Szczawinski and others conclude must have been, at least in part, T. wormskioldii:
"Both Kinds [of soil], however, produce Abundance of Grass, and several varieties of Red Clover grow on the rich moist Bottoms.... In Two Places particularly, we saw several Acres of Clover growing with a Luxuriance and Compactness more resembling the close Sward of a well-managed Lea than the Produce of an uncultivated Waste." (Douglas's report, Fort Vancouver, HBC, July 12, 1842)
In fact, the point where Douglas first disembarked from the Beaver he himself named Clover Point, from the fact that "a large area of ground here was found covered with a species of red clover, growing most luxuriently" (Walbran 1971: 96). For Douglas, the clover and meadowlands he found were an indicator of the potential of the area for modification and management, for re-creating England and the English style of land use. "Being pretty well assured of the Capabilities of the Soil as respects the Purposes of Agriculture, the Climate being also mild and pleasant, we ought to be able to grow every Kind of Grain Raised in England..."
The clover was seen as a promising indication of the possibilities for improvements: "The growth of indigenous vegetation is more luxuriant, than in any other place, I have seen in America, indicating a rich productive soil. Though the survey I made was rather laborious, not being so light and active of foot as in my younger days, I was nevertheless delighted in ranging over fields knee deep in clover, tall grasses and ferns reaching above our heats, at these unequivocal proofs of fertility". (James Douglas in Hargrave 1938: 420-421, as cited by Akrigg and Akrigg 1975: 357.)
Unfortunately, the scale and scope of landscape change that has emanated from this concept has not been easily measured or acknowledged, and the cultural and biological impacts have not been fully assessed. For First Peoples, the loss of valued cultural resources caused profound grief and sadness, still felt today by Elders who remember some of the lands as they used to be. For most people, however, the loss of lands and resources, if recognized at all, is seen as the inevitable result of progress. Many people still do not grasp the importance of maintaining "wild" ecosystems or species, and, if they value greenspace, it makes little difference to them whether it is a green lawn, and agricultural field, or a natural wood or meadow. Many people still view any uncultivated area as "waste", just as James Douglas did over 150 years ago. The value in this land and its ecosystems, for them, is in their potential, not in themselves.
This is well reflected in the words of Berhold Seeman, a naturalist with the expedition which sailed in H.M.S. Herald, under Captain Henry Kellett, D.B., 1845-51, who wrote in June 27, 1846: "In walking from Ogden Point round to Fort Victoria, a distance of little more than a mile, we thought we had never seen a more beautiful country; it quite exceeded our expectation; and yet Vancouver's descriptions made us look for something beyond common scenery. It is a natural park; noble oaks and ferns are seen in the greatest luxuriance; thickets of the hazel [?] and the willow, shrubberies of the poplar and the alder, are dotted about. One could hardly believe that this was not the work of art; more particularly when finding signs of cultivation in every direction--enclosed pasture-land, fields of wheat, potatoes and turnips. Civilization had encroached upon the beautiful domain, and the savage could no longer exist in the filth and indolence of mere animal life.... The fort of Victoria was founded in 1843, and stands on the east shore of the harbour, or rather creek, about a mile from the entrance. The approach is pretty by nature, though somewhat rude by art. The first place we came to was the dairy, an establishment of great importance to the fort.... We were astonished at all we saw. About 160 acres are cultivated with oats, wheat, potatoes, turnips, carrots, and other vegetables, and every day more land is converted into fields. Barely three years had elapsed since the settlement was made, yet all the necessaries and most of the comforts of civilized life already existed in what was a wilderness..." (Scholefield, 1914)
Yet, unrecognized by the colonists, the lands they were changing were already under a degree of care and management by the local First Peoples, and the existing resources were already being used, just not in the ways that the newcomers could perceive. As a result, resources that were desired and once plentiful for First Peoples were intentionally and unintentionally diminished, at least in part because their value was not acknowledged. Of course, as these species dwindled in range and abundance, they became less salient to the First Peoples themselves, and as this occurred, the cultural memory about them diminished. Thus, in a spiraling downward cycle, species deteriorated and disappeared and only a few noticed or cared. Those who cared were not able to communicate their concerns to those who were causing the changes. In short, there was a terrible lack of communication that has continued to the present day.
As noted, Trifolium wormskioldii, because it is a perennial, and because when it grows luxuriantly it forms a very showy display, is likely the major species referred to by James Douglas and after which Clover Point off Dallas Road is named. Its rhizomes were also a valued food of First Nations and were undoubtedly used by the Lekwungen peoples who used the area around Ross Bay and Beacon Hill Park along with the rest of the Victoria area. Dr. Newcombe collected this species in June, 1917 off Dallas Road, Victoria, on "moist ground near the sea" (V: 42028, 42029; 8951), and specimens in the Royal B.C. Herbarium (V) show that it has grown in many sites around the city . It is characterized as "common" (J.R. Anderson, 1920) and growing in "open grass" (J.R. Anderson, 1920), "rich meadows" (J.R. Anderson, 1894), "rich open lands (J.R. Anderson, 1896), "damp ground" (M.C. Melburn, 1970), "moist meadow" (T.C. Brayshaw, 1981); or "dry open ground (V.E.I. Goddard, 1930). Yet, although other native clover species can still be readily found on rocky sites and refugia around the city, T. wormskioldii, cannot be called "common" around Victoria today by any stretch of the imagination. It is, in fact, virtually absent from the entire Victoria coastline. The work of Chris Brayshaw has helped us to piece together its passing, and, maybe it will help us to bring it back again.