Local Plants and Where to Find Them

The Bristlecone Chapter area is home to an impressive diversity of native plants. Of the approximately 6,500 plant taxa native to California, over 2500 taxa are found in Inyo and Mono counties. With such a rich diversity of native plants in our area, our chapter is dedicated to furthering the preservation and conservation of the native flora and plant communities of California’s Eastern Sierra, Great Basin and Northern Mojave Desert areas.

Find out more below, with local area plant lists, plants of special interest, a local wildflower hotspots book (free pdf – 48 pages), a bit of history, demonstration gardens, where to buy native plants for your own garden, and more resources.

Wildflower Hot Spots of the Eastern Sierra  (pdf)Highlights of the unique ecology, geology, and unparalleled flora along 150 miles of the Eastern Sierra corridor, from the Alabama Hills to the Bodie Hills. Click here to access this 48-page color booklet (pdf)

150 Years of Inyo County Botany  (pdf)For Inyo County’s 150th anniversary, the Bristlecone Chapter celebrated 150 years of botanical explorations with a poster (pdf) and a program given by Dr. Bruce Baldwin, curator of the Jepson Herbarium.

DeDecker Native Plant Demonstration GardenDeDecker Garden blooming in the spring of 2003Visit the DeDecker Garden in Independence or the Native Plant Garden at the back of the Bishop City Park to see some demonstration gardens. Also look for Garden tours on our Events page!

Native Gardening and Plant Sales
See our Native Gardening and Plant Sales page for more information and tips on gardening in the Bristlecone Chapter area with local native plants, as well as dates for our next native plant sales.

Local Plant Checklists

Bristlecone Chapter members and others have created plant lists for over 40 local natural areas, ranging from popular field trip sites to the Inyo Mountains. It may be helpful to bring a plant list when visiting these areas because they can help you locate plants and confirm identifications. If you have a list to share, send it to us at webmaster@bristleconecnps.org.  If you have additions, corrections, or more complete or more official lists, for these or other locations, please let us know.

The PDF checklists below span the area from Short Canyon to the Sweetwater Mountains. (Click to expand)

Plant Checklists

Local Plants of Interest

The Bristlecone Chapter area encompasses the entire elevation range of the continental U.S. From 14,505 feet atop Mt. Whitney to 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park’s Badwater Basin, there are a broad range of plant habitats. (There are no plants, however, in Badwater Basin!) Some of these habitats that are important for endemic plants include alkali flats and meadows in Owens Valley, Eureka Dunes, carbonate canyons and slopes of the White-Inyo Range, pumice flats of the Mono Basin, and montane meadows in the southern Sierra, among others.

The plants listed below are locally found plants with special status or rarity rankings on the CNPS California Rare Plant Ranking System. You may look up more information in the included CNPS Rare and Endangered Plant Inventory  and CalFlora links.

Ramshaw Meadows abronia, Abronia alpina.
Ramshaw Meadows abronia, Abronia alpina. © Peri Lee Pipkin

Abronia alpina

Nyctaginaceae

Ramshaw Meadows abronia

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.1 Alpine abronia is known only from Ramshaw Meadows and Templeton Meadows. Possibly threatened by trampling and potentially threatened by meadow succession. Previously a candidate for federal listing.

Fish Slough milk-vetch, Astragalus lentiginosus var. piscinensis, Fish Slough
Fish Slough milk-vetch, Astragalus lentiginosus var. piscinensis, © Steve Matson

Astragalus lentiginosus var. piscinensis

Fabaceae

Fish Slough milk-vetch

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.1, Federal Threatened
Endemic to Fish Slough, northern Owens Valley
Endangered throughout its range

Inyo County star tulip, Calochortus excavatus, Mono County.
Inyo County star tulip, Calochortus excavatus, Mono County. © Stephen Ingram

Calochortus excavatus

Liliaceae

Inyo County star tulip

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.1
Federal Species of Concern
Inyo County star tulip is endangered throughout its range. It occurs in alkali meadows from Owens Valley area and southern Mono County, from Lubken Creek to near Bridgeport.

July Gold in bloom, Dedeckera eurekensis, Shelf Canyon, W foothills of White Mountains, CA
July Gold in bloom, Dedeckera eurekensis, W foothills of White Mountains. © Stephen Ingram

Dedeckera eurekensis

Polygonaceae

July gold

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.3,
Federal Species of concern
State-listed as Rare
July Gold, discovered by Mary and Paul DeDecker on July 4, 1974, is known only from the Inyo Mountains, southern White Mountains, and Last Chance Range. Possibly threatened by vehicles and non-native plants.

Death Valley monkey flower, Diplacus rupicola, on limestone canyon wall, Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley monkey flower, Diplacus rupicola, on limestone canyon wall, Death Valley National Park. © Stephen Ingram

Diplacus rupicola

Phrymaceae

Death Valley monkeyflower

CA Rare Plant Rank List 4.3 (Plant of limited distribution). Endemic to California. Fairly common in its habitat of limestone cliffs and outcrops, but endemic to Death Valley National Park.

Panamint daisy in bloom, Enceliopsis covillei.
Panamint daisy in bloom, Enceliopsis covillei, Death Valley National Park. © Stephen Ingram

Enceliopsis covillei

Asteraceae

Panamint daisy

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2
Endemic to Inyo County, California.
Panamint daisy grows only on rocky slopes and canyon walls of the western slope and adjacent desert of the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley National Park. This official symbol of CNPS is threatened by horticultural collecting, mining, and grazing.

Limestone monkeyflower, Erythranthe calcicola.
Limestone monkeyflower, Erythranthe calcicola. © Steve Matson

Erythranthe calcicola

Phrymaceae

Limestone monkeyflower

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.3
Rare in California and elsewhere.
Limestone monkeyflower, described in 2012, is known from the northern Mojave Desert of eastern California and southwestern Nevada. It occurs nearly exclusively on carbonate substrate. Limestone monkey-flower is currently known only from the Last Chance Range, White-Inyo Range, Funeral and Panamint Mountains.

Inyo Rock Daisy, Lamphonia (Perityle) inyoensis, Conglomerate Mesa.
Inyo Rock Daisy, Lamphonia (Perityle) inyoensis, Conglomerate Mesa. © Maria Jesus

Laphamia inyoensis

Asteraceae

Inyo rock daisy

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2 State-listed as Threatened
Endemic to Inyo County, California.
Inyo rock daisy is endemic to the southern Inyo Mountains, where it grows on calcareous rock outcrops and cliffs. It is threatened by mining activities.

Mono Lake lupine, Lupinus duranii, with Mono Lake in background, Mono Basin Scenic Area, Eastern Sierra, CA
Mono Lake lupine, Lupinus duranii, with Mono Lake in background, Mono Basin Scenic Area. © Stephen Ingram

Lupinus duranii

Fabaceae

Mono Lake lupine

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2
Endemic to Mono County, California.
Mono Lake lupine is fairly common in its habitat of gravelly, pumice-rich soils of volcanic origin in the Eastern Sierra near Mammoth Mountain and the Mono Basin.

Father Crowley's lupine, Lupinus padrecrowleyi.
Father Crowley’s lupine, Lupinus padrecrowleyi. © Steve Matson

Lupinus padrecrowleyi

Fabaceae

Father Crowley’s lupine

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2, State-listed as Rare,
Endemic to California.
Father Crowley’s lupine is found only in western Inyo and eastern Tulare Counties. It is most common around the Big Pine Canyon, Coyote Flat and Bishop Creek Canyon areas of the Eastern Sierra.

Badger Flat threadplant, Nemacladus inyoensis, just south of Badger Flat, Inyo Mountains.
Badger Flat threadplant, Nemacladus inyoensis, just south of Badger Flat, Inyo Mountains. © Steve Matson

Nemacladus inyoensis

Campanulaceae

Badger Flat threadplant

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2.
Endemic to California.
Badger Flat threadplant was discovered by Steve Matson in 2010 and described as a new species in 2020. It is known from Chalfant Valley, Owens Valley, and the White-Inyo Range.

Eureka Dunes evening-primrose, Oeonothera californica eurekensis, with apricot globe mallow, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park,
Eureka Dunes evening-primrose, Oeonothera avita eurekensis, with apricot globe mallow, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park. © Stephen Ingram

Oenothera avita ssp. eurekensis

Onagraceae

Eureka Dunes evening-primrose

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2, State-listed as Rare. Endemic to Inyo County. Eureka Dunes evening-primrose grows only near the base of sand dunes in Eureka Valley, Death Valley National Park. It was federally listed as Endangered in 1978, closed to OHV use, and Delisted due to Recovery in 2018. Habitat previously degraded by vehicle traffic, but still threatened by illegal OHV use, foot traffic, and invasive Russian thistle.

Great Basin bristlecone pine, Pinus longaeva, Patriarch Grove, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, CA
Great Basin bristlecone pine, Pinus longaeva, Patriarch Grove, White Mountains. © Stephen Ingram

Pinus longaeva

Pinaceae

Great Basin bristlecone pine

CA Rare Plant Rank List 4.3 (Plant of limited distribution). Bristlecone pines occur in the White-Inyo Range, and the Panamint Range within California, but range eastward through the highest mountains of Nevada and western Utah. Our CNPS chapter’s namesake species is protected within the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, managed by the Inyo National Forest in the White Mountains.

Death Valley sage, Salvia funerea, Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley sage, Salvia funerea, Funeral Mountains, Death Valley National Park. © Stephen Ingram

Salvia funerea

Lamiaceae

Death Valley sage

CA Rare Plant Rank List 4.3, (Plant of limited distribution). Death Valley sage is often found on lower canyon walls within Death Valley National Park and adjacent habitats in Nevada.

Owens Valley checkerbloom, Sidalcea covillei, Baker Creek Meadows, Big Pine.
Owens Valley checkerbloom, Sidalcea covillei, Baker Creek Meadows, Big Pine. © Steve Matson

Sidalcea covillei

Malvaceae

Owens Valley checkerbloom

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.1, State-listed as Endangered. Endemic to Inyo County. Owens Valley checkerbloom grows in meadows and seep habitats from near Coso Junction north to Fish Slough. It is threatened by development, groundwater pumping, non-native plants, grazing, and meadow succession.

Eureka Valley dune grass, Swallenia alexandrae, Eureka Dunes in late fall.
Eureka Valley dune grass, Swallenia alexandrae, Eureka Dunes in late fall. © Aaron Schusteff

Swallenia alexandrae

Poaceae

Eureka Valley dune grass

CA Rare Plant Rank List 1B.2, Federally Threatened, State-listed as Endangered. Endemic to Inyo County, California. Eureka Valley dune grass is known only from Eureka Valley, Death Valley National Park. Its dune habitat was previously degraded by vehicle traffic. Populations are recovering well, but still threatened by illegal OHV use.

Additional Resources

In addition to resources from the Bristlecone Chapter, there are a number of online botanical databases and other websites that provide extensive information about California plants. Some of the main ones include:

  • Calflora database of native plants with many different ways to search, including “What grows here?”, planting guide, places to view native plants, search for plants and search for observations
  • CalPhotos a searchable collection of 808,150 photos of plants, animals, fossils, people, and landscapes from around the world. UC Berkeley.
  • CNPS Inventory of Rare Plants a widely-recognized resource that directly guides rare plant education, protection, conservation planning, and land acquisition and management in California. The heart of the CNPS Inventory is our assessment of the current conservation status of our state’s rare, threatened, and endangered plants
  • CNPS Manual of California Vegetation California’s standard vegetation classification for biological consulting firms, planners, and state and federal agencies. Because of its breadth, it also offers a significant source of California natural history and biogeographic information for plant lovers.
  • California Invasive Plant Council, Invasive Plant Inventory The Inventory categorizes plants that threaten California’s natural areas. The Inventory includes plants that currently cause damage in California (invasive plants) as well as “Watch” plants that are a high risk of becoming invasive in the future.
  • Jepson eFlora UC Berkeley. The Jepson eFlora is the foremost authority on the native and naturalized vascular plants of California. For plants occurring in wildlands or otherwise outside of cultivation, the Jepson eFlora contains taxonomic treatments, distribution maps, illustrations, photographs, and identification keys.
  • Jepson Online Interchange The primary intention or the interchange is to account for names people are likely to encounter, from whatever source, and to summarize the status of such names with respect to the first printing of The Jepson Manual
  • NatureServe Explorer NatureServe is the definitive source for information on rare and endangered species and ecosystems in the Americas. This online guide provides information on the 100,000 species and ecosystems that we track.