The Seeds of Success field season has begun by scouting sites where we may find large populations of our priority species. Sites were carefully selected on a map, based on data such as previous seed collection locations, herbarium specimen locations, and desirable climate adapted traits. However, the plants didn’t read the map. Blooms shift based on a myriad of precipitation and seed bank characteristics, so may not reoccur or be found in anticipated locations. This is where the scouting comes in to play. The majority of my time has been spent navigating a maze of backroads. Each day, I delve deeper into the labrynth of nameless dirt access roads. It consists of named but unsigned roads, numbered signs that don’t appear on maps, roads on the map that no longer exist, and roads that are drawn on no map but mysteriously exist anyway. By the end of the season in November, they shall exist in a mental map.
When I do leave the truck, the desert rewards a keen eye. The landscape may appear barren from a distance or while it passes by at 70 miles per hour, but in fact quite a bit of diversity can exist within feet of the tires. Many of the species are unique to this area, so are especially rewarding to come across.