Superbloom in Anza Borrego Desert

Last week, my friend Sabrina and I went to the Anza Borrego desert to check out the superbloom! Many of the flowers grew close to the roadside.

We found some beautiful Cheilanthes parryi! This small fuzzy white fern grows primarily in the shade of large rocks on the shady side of the hill.




Monterey and Point Lobos

Here are some of the photos I took at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Point Lobos. The weather was beautiful, and I even caught a glimpse of a rainbow over the ocean!


The Monterey Bay Aquarium is featuring an excellent exhibit called “Tentacles.” The octopuses (octopodes?) changed colors several times while we watched.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located right next to Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, where scientists perform world-class research right in the bay.

After Monterey, my friends and I explored Point Lobos, located 20 minutes south of Monterey. First we visited Whalers’ Cove, named for the 19th century Chinese fishermen.

On the trail we found ferns!


My friends and I enjoyed exploring the tide pools.

I’m looking forward to going back!




Nature Photography, December 2016


Here are some of my favorite pictures from my recent travels! Photo credits: Helen Holmlund. Please ask permission before using.

Ferns at Pinnacles National Park

Last November I went to Pinnacles National Park. I found many ferns, most of which were Goldback Fern (Pentagramma triangularis, pictured below).



We also saw Coffee Fern (Pellaea andromedifolia) and Bird’s Foot Fern (Pellaea mucronata) growing in the sandy soils around the Pinnacles.

I was surprised to find so much Giant Chain Fern (Woodwardia fimbriata), because this fern usually requires a lot of water, but it grew in the streams that ran through Pinnacles and near the waterfalls created by the giant rock formations.

Of course, there were no ferns growing inside the caves, but they did grow in the crevices outside.

Beautiful lichen grew on the rocks at the top of the Pinnacles!

Photo credits: Helen Holmlund (except for featured image, Sabrina Shirazi)

Ferns in Olympic National Park

This summer I visited the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park in Washington State. Here in the temperate rainforest, the plants receive more than 100 inches of rain each year! The trees are covered with moss, and the ferns thrive in the understory.


The Hoh Rainforest is next to a river fed by melted glaciers. I saw a family of elk by the river!



In addition to covering the forest floor, many ferns grow as epiphytes on the moss-covered tree limbs (see polypody to the left).









Naturally, beautiful mushrooms also thrive in this environment.

Photo credits: Helen Holmlund

Ferns in Redwood State Park

This summer I went camping in Redwood National and State Parks to look for ferns! Many fern species grow well in damp and shaded redwood understory of northern California.


I found several species of ferns that were new to me! The fern above is Blechnum spicant, which is a dimorphic fern, meaning that the fronds with and without spores have a different shape. The top picture shows a fertile frond (with spores) and the leaves in the bottom picture are all sterile fronds (without spores).


I also found Polypodium scouleri, which is a leathery polypody with large fuzzy sori (spore groups), pictured above. This species often grows as an epiphyte, meaning that it grows on the branches of a tree.


Finally, I went to this beautiful place called “Fern Canyon,” near Prairie Creek State Park. The walls of this canyon are coated with ferns, mostly Adiantum aleuticum (Five-fingered Fern). There are naturally little trickles of water coming down the canyon walls, and the ferns thrive in this environment.

Of course, there are also many beautiful mushrooms that thrive in the redwood forest!

Photo credits: Helen Holmlund

Santa Cruz Island, June 2015

In June 2015, our lab at Pepperdine University compared the uptake of water through the leaves (foliar water uptake) in ferns on Santa Cruz Island and ferns on the mainland Santa Monica Mountains.

Santa Cruz Island experiences frequent and heavy fog. We hypothesized that island ferns would have increased foliar water uptake compared to mainland ferns.

Sunrise through the fog on Santa Cruz Island

Our summer undergraduate students Gaby and Shaquetta joined us to assist with laboratory and field work.


We traveled around the island using one of the UC Reserve’s 4WD vehicles.


We found lots of fog, and ferns!

Besides the ferns, we learned many other exciting things about island life. For instance, Humbolt lilies on the island grow in clusters of six or seven.

We also saw the island foxes!

We saw some severe dieback in the island pines.


All in all, it was an amazing experience, and we got some exciting data! I hope to continue this project in my graduate studies.

Photo credits: Dr. Steve Davis