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Yosemite Nature Notes 46(2) (1977)


drosera rotundifolia
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Drosera Rotundifloria: A Reflection on the Unexpected

by Mark Gatewood

A new locale for sundew, Drosera rotundifolia, was found this summer by a young Park visitor, Ginger Bean, of Ventura, California.

Ginger and her family had gone on one of my walks in the Crane Flat meadows. On that walk, I encouraged participants to explore the meadow on their own by investigating a one-foot-square study plot. Back at her family’s campsite in Crane Flat Campground, adjacent to a lovely damp meadow, Ginger did some further individual exploration.

On a moist streambank in the meadow, she found a small plant which looked like one of the insectivorous plants she had read of recently in a children’s nature magazine. She came to my campfire program that evening and told me of her discovery of a “Venus’s fly trap.” I agreed to meet her at her campsite the next morning to see what she had found.

It was a “meadow morning” - the air was cool and the rising sunshine was turning the morning dew to a low, thin vapor. Ginger took me into the meadow, and there, on the streambank, was a single sundew plant. I felt as if I were seeing an old friend, for the last time I’d seen sundews was in the acid cranberry bogs in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. I knew that sundew was rare and local in the Sierra. But I didn’t realize how rare the plant was in Yosemite until I shared the find with my supervisor, Bob Fry, who told me that he knew of only one other place in the Park where sundew could be found, at Swamp Lake. Sundew, and its occasional site associate, Sphagnum moss, require a perpetually moist habitat; such habitats are rare in the Sierra.

Besides providing an interesting addition to our knowledge of Park plants, this sundew discovery gave me something to think about as an interpreter. It showed me that I had ceased to expect the unexpected. I’d taken for granted that I knew most everything about my own “backyard.”

It often takes a new viewpoint, frequently that of a young person, to show us the wonders of our natural world.

Now, every time I enter that meadow, I find more sundew plants. They’ve been there all along. All I needed was someone to open my eyes to my “familiar” surroundings.



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