ISSN 1188-603X

No. 279 December 31, 2001 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


The joint meeting of Botany BC + Botany Washington will take place from June 16 to June 19, 2002 at the Selkirk College in Castlegar, British Columbia. Watch for further announcements.


From: Joy Mastrogiuseppe []

The Juniper Dunes Wilderness preserves the northernmost growth of western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis Hook. (Cupressaceae), some of which have been around for 150 years.

One of Washington's botanical delights is Juniper Dunes, a large system of sand dunes in southeastern Franklin County, Washington, 10 miles north of Levey. The dunes, up to 130 ft. tall, are surrounded by private lands developed for agriculture. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has custody of about 17,000 acres of the dunes, in a checkerboard pattern with privately-owned parcels. Much of the dunes area is stabilized, but roughly 10 square miles hold more active dunes. Most of these active areas are included in the ca. 7000 acres of the BLM Juniper Dunes Wilderness.

The junipers of Juniper Dunes are western juniper, Juniperus occidentalis, in its northernmost concentrated groves. Few, scattered individuals grow further north, e.g. at the "Delight Dunes" in Adams County, and a specimen of western juniper was collected during the early 1900's at Wawawai, along the Snake River in Whitman County. This tree, unfortunately, was growing below the current water level of the Lower Granite reservoir.

The Juniper Dunes apparently represent a portion of the shoreline of a huge ancient lake that occupied south-central Washington, dating back to the Spokane Floods of the Pleistocene. Ice dams across the Clarks Fork River in western Montana broke during warmer periods of the Pleistocene, releasing enormous volumes of water into eastern Washington-the Spokane Floods that formed the channeled scablands. The lake was formed by backwaters from Wallula Gap, which was too narrow to allow the enormous volumes of water to pass. Layers of the fine silt deposited can be seen in the sand, and these constitute a sufficient moisture reservoir to support the growth of junipers.

The general vegetation of the Juniper Dunes is typical of very sandy Columbia Basin habitats: a mixture of the big sagebrush-needle and thread habitat type (HT) (Artemisia tridentata-Stipa comata HT) and the bitterbrush-needle and thread HT (Purshia tridentata-Stipa comata HT) (Daubenmire 1970). There are strong components of rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) and green rabbitbrush (C. visicidiflorus). Stands of bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), and Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides subsp. hymenoides), are scattered. Forbs here that are typical of very sandy habitats are white sandverbena (Abronia mellifera), Franklin sandwort (Arenaria franklinii), sicklepod milkvetch (Astragalus sclerocarpus), turpentine cymopterus (Cymopterus terebinthinus), hymenopappus (Hymenopappus filifolius var. filifolius), prickly-largespine pear cactus (Opuntia erinacea), sand-dune penstemon (Penstemon acuminatus), lanceleaf breadroot (Psoralea lanceolata), and sand dock (Rumex venosus). Other forbs include Carey balsamroot (Balsamorhiza careyana), wild-hyacinth (Brodiaea douglasii), larkspur (Delphinium nuttallianum), wild flax (Linum perenne), snow buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum), desertparsley Indian-potato (Lomatium macrocarpum), and silverleaf phacelia (Phacelia hastata).

Access to the Juniper Dunes Wilderness is limited. Because the wilderness is surrounded by private lands, there is currently no strictly legal access. Private landowners often allow access through their lands, but potential visitors must contact the BLM Spokane office for permits (phone 509-456-2570).


Daubenmire, R.F. 1970.
Steppe Vegetation of Washington. Washington Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin 62. 131 p.


The ancient Greeks often put this palindrome on fountains. It translates as "Wash the sin as well as the face." A good suggestion for all of us, sinners and nonsinners, as we begin the palindromic year 2002. In this special year, I would like to wish you all good luck, lots of happiness and success in your life and work.

With passing of the old year, I would like to thank to all of you who contributed to BEN with your notes and articles and shared your experience with other BEN readers. BEN would not be possible without your help. To all of you who always wanted to submit something for BEN, I wish you the courage and fortitude to sit down and bang off a few paragraphs on the keyboard and send it to me. I would be delighted to have your contributions!

The Victoria Telecommunity Network has continued to be a reliable host of our mailing system, Scott Russell has been a faithful web master, and Jan Kirkby and others have kept untangling my English into a (more) readable form. Many thanks to all of you!

Enjoy this coming palindromic year--the next one will not come until 2112!

Adolf Ceska aka Aksec Floda

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