Operation Desert Fern* III (*& Selaginella, Arctostaphylos, Grimmia, et al.). Sheet 1 of 2.

Operation Desert Fern* III. Santa Catalinas.

Holy moly, Operation Desert Fern* III was an amazing, hot, exhausting, and successful trip to the mountains of southern Arizona at the end of July. While some would consider us crazy botanists for attempting such a trip in the pre-monsoon Desert Southwest, I would consider us crazy and happy botanists.

Santa Catalina Mountains.
Gold morph of Notholaena standleyi, first fern of the trip. Look at those marginal sporangia!
Notholaena standleyi.

Our first stop (after a rather sweaty and sleepless first night camping west of the Santa Catalinas) was Finger Rock Canyon in the Santa Catalinas, just north of Tucson. This was our hottest field day, but in some ways the most exciting, as we met so many new ferns and were thrilled to discover that things were not as shriveled as expected! Apparently the canyon had received some early monsoon rains, so at least some of the plants were looking lively. That first day we saw Notholaena standleyi, Astrolepis sinuata, A. windhamii, Pellaea truncata, Myriopteris wrightii, M. lindheimeri, M. yavapensis, Selaginella arizonica, S. rupincola, and finally, at about 1136m in the afternoon, Pentagramma maxonii—these collections turned out to contain both diploid and triploid individuals! Yahoo!

Carl and Shirley and a gorgeous stand of Astrolepis sinuata in the Santa Catalinas N of Tucson, AZ.
Astrolepis sinuata in the Sta. Catalinas. Holy moly, look at those stellate adaxial scales!

This view of an angiosperm cost my legs and pants some brutalities.
Selaginella arizonica, looking fine.
Our fearless leader, wandering off into the desert. Oh, and I spy Finger Rock, top R horizon!
The spot where Keir nearly fell to his spiky doom. And where we saw a rattlesnake enjoying a meal in the shade. And some lovely Myriopteris wrightii!



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