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Bodfish Piute Cypress Botanical Area

The 310-acre Bodfish Piute Cypress Botanical Area is managed by the Sequoia National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management manages the adjacent 865-acre parcel as the Piute Cypress Research Natural Area.

The area is known for its 700-acre grove of the rare Piute Cypress, a subspecies of the Arizona Cypress. This tree is found only in the southern Sierra Nevada in Kern and Tulare Counties. The Bodfish grove is the premier location of the eleven known Piute cypress groves and the largest and oldest colony. Thousands of trees of all ages grow in this arid chaparral and Douglas oak woodland. Trees average a lifespan of 200 years but can live considerably longer. The oldest tree is estimated to be between 500-600 years old.

Growing up to 45 feet tall and up to 29 inches in diameter, the Piute cypress is a fire dependent species. Occasional fires help with germination and clear out thick chaparral vegetation which can inhibit succession. But hot fires can destroy groves as evidenced by the lack of re-growth after the 1970 Breckenridge Mountain fire. In 1921, a non-devastating fire burned 200 acres in the Bodfish grove yet over the past 80+ years the trees have re-grown up to 16 feet.

Piute Mountains Jewelflower  Alison Sheehey 2007Several other sensitive plant and animal species are located within or near the grove, such as adobe yampah, Piute Mtns. Jewel-flower, Piute buckwheat, Piute Mtns. navarretia, and Kern County larkspur.

To get to the area take Caliente Bodfish Road about 3 miles south of the town of Bodfish and turn onto Saddle Springs Road (27S02). This is a rough dirt road with a lot of bumpy washboards and although I have driven my small sedan through it, I would recommend taking a high clearance vehicle. The botanical area begins several miles up this road. Each winter the forest service locks the gate near the Caliente Bodfish Road (6 miles below snowline).

All information copyright Nature Ali 2006-07. All rights reserved.

Flora of Bodfish Piute Cypress

Allium campanulatum 

Allium lacunosum

Arctostaphylos patula

Astragalus subvestitus

Bloomeria crocea

Calochortus invenustus

Castilleja angustifolia 

Caulanthus coulteri

Ceanothus cuneatus

Cercocarpus betuloides

Chrysothamnus nauseosus 

Cirsium occidentale 

Clarkia rhomboidea

Collinsia torreyi

Chorizanthe xanti var. xanti

Cupressus arizonica ssp. nevadensis

Delphinium parishii

Delphinium purpusii

Dichelostemma capitatum

Ephedra viridis

Eriodictyon californicum 

Eriogonum breedlovei 

Eriogonum davidsonii 

Eriogonum fasciculatum 

Eriogonum inflatum 

Eriogonum nudum 

Eriogonum umbellatum 

Eriophyllum confertiflorum

Erysimum capitatum

Eschscholzia lobbii

Fremontodendron californicum

Juniperus californica

Keckiella breviflora 

Linanthus androsaceus 

Linanthus dichotomus 

Lotus crassifolius

Mentzelia affinis 

Mimulus inconspicuus

Mimulus mephiticus

Monardella lanceolata

Monardella lanceolata 

Monardella linoides  

Navarretia setiloba 

Penstemon grinnellii 

Perideridia pringlei

Phacelia davidsonii

Pinus monophylla

Rafinesquia neomexicana

Ribes quercetorum 

Silene californica 

Solanum xanti

Streptanthus cordatus var. piutensis

Yucca whipplei

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Nature Alley is dedicated to protecting natural communities wherever they exist. She is involved in many scientific and educational programs, promoting environmental appreciation and ethics.

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