Operation Desert Fern* III. Santa Catalinas.
Holy moly, Operation Desert Fern* III was an amazing, hot, exhausting, and successful trip to the mountains of southern Arizona at the end of July. While some would consider us crazy botanists for attempting such a trip in the pre-monsoon Desert Southwest, I would consider us crazy and happy botanists.
Our first stop (after a rather sweaty and sleepless first night camping west of the Santa Catalinas) was Finger Rock Canyon in the Santa Catalinas, just north of Tucson. This was our hottest field day, but in some ways the most exciting, as we met so many new ferns and were thrilled to discover that things were not as shriveled as expected! Apparently the canyon had received some early monsoon rains, so at least some of the plants were looking lively. That first day we saw Notholaena standleyi, Astrolepis sinuata, A. windhamii, Pellaea truncata, Myriopteris wrightii, M. lindheimeri, M. yavapensis, Selaginella arizonica, S. rupincola, and finally, at about 1136m in the afternoon, Pentagramma maxonii—these collections turned out to contain both diploid and triploid individuals! Yahoo!