On July 20, 2013 I drove to an area of the Siskiyou Mts. outside the town of Orleans from Los Angeles– the 11 hours is okay if I can leave before dawn and arrive in the afternoon. Arriving a few hours before the sun went down, there was some time to collect from a population of Pyrola dentata before cooking some food and figuring out where to sleep.
Some of the P. dentata (left) had the leaf form for which the species was originally named (i.e., glaucous, oblong leaves with dentate margins). However, plants growing in the vicinity (below), within a few meters, had really different leaves– these varied in size, shape, and coloration. I collected plants exhibiting a range of morphologies to press and add to permanent herbarium collections. When collecting plants to make herbarium specimens with, it is useful to consider representing the range of morphological variation in a particular species at one location. This is one of the ways we can distinguish heritable variation from variation caused by environmental pressures like micro-climate and other resource availability.
After taking notes about the habitat I found these plants growing in, looking around for other Pyrola species in the area, and packing my bag for the next day, I had dinner and watched the clouds rise over the river valley below me.