Road Scars or Wildflower Opportunities?

Tiny floral wonderlands abound where cuts were made in hillsides.

Tiny Roadside Flowers

These little flowers were spotted growing along Mineral King Road between the two ends of Hammond Drive. The diversity of species living cooperatively in a small area is quite impressive. Some may see the intrusion of a road to be a blight on a hillside and resent viewing it from below. But where this section of road was cut into the slope an opportunity was opened up for wildlife to flourish.

The habitat of the location for today’s photo is dominated by oak trees and foxtails (just ask the folks who live there whether it is they or these other two life forms who are in charge). At the time of this photograph the grass was already dry and brown, and even on this north-facing section of road the surroundings were sunny and hot. Yet because a road has been cut into the slope a sharper angle provides extended shade and water in the soil is allowed to seep to the artificial surface. Without this extra shade and water the colorful little creatures seen here would not be able to thrive.

Gifford Pinchot, the man who founded the United States Forest Service and who played a pivotal role in introducing Americans to the modern sylviculture then being practiced in Germany, said that the first principle of conservation is development. By that he meant that resources could only be used wisely and conservatively, ensuring that future generations will have equal access, if the resources were managed by concerted plans that recognize the human need for resources rather than ignore it. But perhaps not all conservation by development is planned. The scene for this article seems to be quite a happy accident, and perhaps some folks can learn from this not to fear all development.

What Is in the Photo?

Our best guess for the pink and white flowers is Mustang Clover, Leptosiphon montanus; possibly a localized subspecies or endemic variety that is more pale than those shown in other photographs. The two different yellow flowers would take more extensive research than allowed by time allotted for this series.

The Calflora entry for Leptosiphon montanus can be found at

Bonus Photo

The following is a broad view of the hillside on which today’s photo was taken.

Tiny Roadside Flowers