|The entire crest, from the usual west side. February 2012|
|Into the heart of the Chiricahuas, the view from the crest southeast.|
|What I went looking for, Limosella pubiflora. 14x|
But I was in Turkey Creek, which is on the west side of the mountain. The plot thickened. I was also at the foot of a creek that had seen twenty years of restoration work, with thousands of low rock trincheras built across the stream bed of the entire canyon I was standing in, looking down at Limosella pubiflora. The cows were excluded and there in the delicate fine silty soil at the edge of the 1 cm deep water was this plant that was supposed to be gone. So I went back to collect and confirm that exactly it was what I saw. We shall see.
It's a complicated story this mudwort. It turns out that the type collection from 1928 was the only specimen that determined the description as a new species. The pubescence of the inner corolla parts is utterly different from the similar Limosella acaulis and Limosella aquatica. There still no resolution of this question as there's been no genetics done on the species. If it is something different it is an incredibly threatened species, given the apparently narrow range of its habitat and the systemic risk of climate change in an already arid landscape. Curious.
|The full Limosella pubiflora, the Chiricahua mudwort|
|The habitat. Pay attention to the trinchera upstream. Twenty years of restoration works.|
|The Cave Creek sunrise.|
|Contemplating how to measure the black. Late summer 2011|
When I went to look over the crest, I saw an intensity of the fire on the high elevation landscape along the crest only as breathtaking as the narrow margin in which something torched and trees right nearby went completely untouched. Sorting through the complex interaction of intentionally set back fires, the struggle to control the fire was indistinguishable now from the landscape in the midst of great change. Yet the entire landscape was an even more complex one than before. Certain areas will never be the same and new ecological communities are already repopulating those niches left unfilled in the landscape. Oaks replace pines and the pines and spruces and high elevation species move upslope. There is not a long way to go for many of the species on these islands.