Sequoia National Forest

Habitat of mycoheterotrophic Ericaceae in Sequoia National Forest.

The southern end of the Sierra Nevada in California runs through Sequoia National Forest. On June 11-12, 2011, graduate student Naomi Fraga brought me on a trip to the area to collect Mimulus species (Phrymaceae). This forest features some great habitat (Fig. 1) for mycoheterotrophic Ericaceae as well, including Pyrola dentata. The plants I collected from this forest have round leaves with  glaucous surfaces, which is stereotypical for the species (Fig. 2). Unlike other collections I’ve made, P. dentata on Sequoia NF have very prominent venation, so much that the surfaces are more textured than I’ve observed in the species further north.

A rosette of P. dentata found on Sequoia National Forest, growing in a mixed conifer-hardwood woodland.

Nonetheless, these are definitely P. dentata, as evidenced by various other aspects of leaf arrangement and morphology, and corroborated further by their position in a preliminary phylogenetic analysis, where they are more closely related to individuals of P. dentata across their range in western North America (Fig. 3) than they are to other species (e.g., P. picta and P. aphylla) in the same geographic locality. The populations in Sequoia National Forest appear to be most closely related to individuals sampled from just south of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada, and increasingly genetically distant from populations north.

Map of select locations of P. dentata from throughout their range in western North America, including populations in the southern Sierra (432, 433, and 435).

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