Operation Desert Fern* III (*& Selaginella, Arctostaphylos, Grimmia, et al.). Sheet 2 of 2.

Operation Desert Fern* III. Mazatzals and Pinals.

The second mountain range for the overheated but happy explorers (see Sheet 1 post) was the Mazatzals in Tonto National Forest. After camping at a very specific and special campsite along the West Fork Sycamore Creek (thank you Mike Windham!), we rambled up a dry, cactus- and Agave-laden wash. Here we finally encountered Arctostaphylos…

Arctostaphylos pringlei (Ericaceae). Look at those glandular hairs!

… and a host of other wonderful creatures. This canyon was visited years before by Mike Windham and Eric Schuettpelz, who found mixed cytotypes of Pentagramma maxonii. We found lots of P. maxonii, but only tetraploids… In addition to Pentagramma, we found Pellaea atropurpurea, P. truncata, Myriopteris yavapensis, M. rufa, and some lovely Agaves and cacti.

Keir’s favorite cactus of the trip and a stray Ailuropoda (“Panda”). Picture credit: Kayla Sweeten.


Dormant Pentagramma maxonii
Sonia—and Shirley, in background—rambling up the dry wash.

Next stop—poorly documented, as my camera ran out of batteries—was a bit further north in the Mazatzals for a hot afternoon walk up the Barnhardt Trail. This hike brought us to an amazing rock face with more Pentagramma (both diploid and tetraploid!!), Myriopteris lindheimeri, M. yavapensis, M. wootonii, M. fendleri, Pellaea truncata, and an outrageous Woodwardia fimbriata.

That night we camped in the Pinal Peak area, and were once again surrounded by gorgeous manzanitas.

Arctostaphylos pringleii. Heart emoji.
The intrepid ODF III crew: L to R: Carl, Sonia, Shirley, Kayla. Missing from photo: Keir and Panda.
Oh. There they are. With some Penstemon sp. and pinecones!

Our last day in the field comprised a morning rambling amongst poison oak and chaparral and ferns in the Pinals, in the drainage of Ferndale Spring (!); we found

Pellaea truncata in the Pinals.
Platanus and chaparral in the Pinals.
View to the southeast from a morning hike approaching Pinal Peak.
Arctostaphylos pringlei, sprawling beautifully in the Pinals.
Myriopteris sp. Look at those abaxial scales! Pinals, Tonto NF.
Aquilegia in “Ferndale Creek”, Pinals; Tonto NF.
Pellaea truncata. Pinals, Tonto NF.
Myriopteris sp. Pinals, Tonto NF.
Eggs and inverts on Arctostaphylos pringlei. Pinals, Tonto NF.
Cercocarpus (Rosaceae), looking so fine in the Pinals. Look at those plumed fruits!
Eriogonum (Polygonaceae) in the Pinals.