Another very interesting plant is the Alpine currant (Ribes Inebrians, Lindl.) which between the years 1832 and 1907 has received no less than eight different names accorded by European and American botanists. It is a remarkable shrub, in that it occurs higher on the mountain than any other form of vegetation except lichens. The roots penetrate deeply into the crevices of the lava rocks, enabling it to withstand the fierce winds. The flowers, which appear in August, are white, shading to pink, and the red berries, which are not especially palatable on account of their insipid taste and numerous seeds, are abundant in September. Another new Mt. Rose ribes has been named Churchii in honor of Professor J.E. Church, Jr., whose original work at the Mt. Rose Observatory is described in the chapter devoted to that purpose.
Growing at elevations of from 6000 to 10,000 feet, displaying a profusion of white flowers sometimes delicately tinged with light purple is the Phlox Douglasii, Hook. It is low but with loose, much-branched prostrate stems and remarkably stout, almost woody roots.
A new Alpine willow (Salix Caespitosa) has also been discovered. Professor Kennedy thus writes of it:
The melting snow, as it comes through and over the rocks in the nature of a spring, brings with it particles of sand and vegetation, which form a very shallow layer of soil on a flat area to one side of the main branch of the stream. On this the willow branches adhere like ivy, rooting at every joint and interlaced so as to form a dense mat. From these, erect leafy shoots, one or two inches high, appear, with the many flowered catkins extending above the foliage. The pistillate plants occupy separate but adjacent areas to the staminate ones.
[Illustration: Professor Fergusson at the Fergusson Meteorograph at Mt. Rose Observatory. 10,090 Feet]
[Illustration: An Alpine White Pine, Defying the Storms, on the North Slope of Mt. Rose, 9,500 Ft.]
[Illustration: Tallac, Lake Tahoe]
[Illustration: Looking North from Cave Rock, Lake Tahoe]
THE CHAPARRAL OF THE TAHOE REGION
The word chaparral is a Spanish word, transferred bodily into our language, without, however, retaining its strict and original significance. In Spanish it means a plantation of evergreen oaks, or, thick bramble-bushes entangled with thorny shrubs in clumps. Hence, in the west, it has come to mean any low or scrub brush that thickly covers a hill or mountain-side. As there is a varied chaparral in the Tahoe region, it is well for the visitor to know of what it is mainly composed.
Experience has demonstrated that where the larger lumber is cut off close on the Sierran slopes of the Tahoe region the low bushy chaparral at once takes full possession. It seems to prevent the tree seeds from growing and thus is an effectual preventive to reforestation. This, however, is generally not so apparent east of the main range as it is on the western slopes. One of its chief elements is the manzanita (Arctostaphylos patula) easily distinguishable by the red wood of its stem and larger branches, glossy leaves, waxen blossoms (when in flower) and green or red berries in the early autumn.