California / North America / Pic of the Week / Southwestern USA

“Pic of the Week”, July 3, 2020: Snow Plant, California

Snow Plants, Yosemite (2)

The only place I’ve ever seen snow plant is on the western (wetter) slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, especially in Yosemite National Park.  It’s hard to miss seeing snow plant if its there, as it’s bright red and stands out against the melting snow and tree litter in which it grows. 

Some interesting facts about snow plant:

1) It’s a bright fleshy red plant (herb) of the Indian-pipe family, usually 15-30 cm (under a foot) tall

2) It grows in high-altitude conifer forests of California, Nevada and Oregon (generally between 1000 – 3000 m altitude)

3) It derives its nourishment from soil fungi attached to the roots of pine trees, and does not need sunlight to survive

4) It usually pops out in late spring when the snow is still melting

5) It usually grows as colonies of plants

These photos were taken in the Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoias in southern Yosemite National Park in mid-May.  There were still some patches of snow on the ground, but it was a beautiful warm spring day and pleasant to hike in the mountains and in the giant forest.  Spotting snow plant was just a bonus in an already terrific day.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)


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