In my last post (05-14-18 “Hidden in Plain Sight”) I introduced a shrub that was only “discovered”, described and named in 1992. As of 2017 there were only 33 known populations of Shasta snow wreath (Neviusia cliftonii), all located in Shasta County CA within a few miles of each other near Lake Shasta and the eastern Klamath Range.
Shasta snow wreath is a thicket-forming shrub thought to mainly reproduce vegetatively. Individual stems (ramets) arise from the root system. Taller Shasta snow wreath thickets with more stems are associated with less tree cover. The largest known populations occur at higher elevations and on west facing slopes.
The oval Shasta snow wreath leaves are arranged alternately on wiry, arching, reddish stems. The deciduous leaves are toothed and have short petioles.
A cluster of 3 to 5 flowers forms the Shasta snow wreath inflorescence. Most flowers have no petals and are composed of 50 to 100 stamens and resemble tiny white puffs. Occasionally some flowers have one or two white remnant petals. The 5 toothed, green sepals are outspread. Plants growing at higher elevations have more inflorescences per stem.
The fruits, soft-bodied achenes, are rarely observed.
Originally Shasta snow wreath was thought to be associated with limestone substrates because that was the habitat in which the first populations were found. In 2006 Lindstrand and Nelson showed that about 47% of the populations know at that time occurred in areas with non-limestone geology.
These Shasta snow wreath plants were growing along Water Gulch Trail in Shasta County CA near Lake Shasta and photographed in May.
Shasta snow wreath – finally checked off on our botanical “bucket list”.