Another feature of the chaparral often occupies the field entirely to itself, viz., the chamisal or greasewood (Adenostoma fasciculatum, Hook, and Arn.). Its small clustered and needle-like leaves, richly covered with large, feathery panicles of tiny blossoms, give it an appearance not unlike Scotch heather, and make a mountainside dainty and beautiful.
The California buckeye (Aesculus Californica, Nutt.) is also found, especially upon stream banks or on the moist slopes of the canyons. Its light gray limbs, broad leaves, and long, white flower-spikes make it an attractive shrub or tree (for it often reaches forty feet in height), and when the leaves drop, as they do early, the skeleton presents a beautiful and delicate network against the deep azure of the sky.
Another feature of the chaparral is the scrub oak. In 1913 the bushes were almost free from acorns. They generally appear only every other year, and when they do bear the crop is a wonderfully numerous one.
A vast amount of wild lilac (Ceanothus Velutinus) is found on all the slopes. It generally blooms in June and then the hillsides are one fragrant and glowing mass of vivid white tinged with the creamy hue that adds so much charm to the flowers.
The year 1913, however, was a peculiar year, throughout, for plant life. In the middle of September in Page’s Meadows a large patch of ceanothus was in full bloom, either revealing a remarkably late flowering, or a second effort at beautification.
Another ceanothus, commonly called mountain birch, is often found. When in abundance and in full flower it makes a mountain side appear as if covered with drifted snow.
Willows abound in the canyons and on the mountains of the Tahoe region, and they are an invariable sign of the near presence of water.
There is scarcely a canyon where alders, cottonwoods and quaking aspens may not be found. In 1913 either the lack of water, some adverse climatic condition, or some fungus blight caused the aspen leaves to blotch and fall from the trees as early as the beginning of September. As a rule they remain until late in October, changing to autumnal tints of every richness and hue and reminding one of the glorious hues of the eastern maples when touched by the first frosts of winter.
No one used to exploring dry and desert regions, such as the Colorado and Mohave Deserts of Southern California, the Grand Canyon region, the Navajo Reservation, etc., in Arizona and New Mexico, the constant presence of water in the Tahoe region is a perpetual delight. Daily in my trips here I have wondered at the absence of my canteen and sometimes in moments of forgetfulness I would reach for it, and be almost paralyzed with horror not to find it in its accustomed place. But the never-ending joy of feeling that one could start out for a day’s trip, or a camping-out expedition of a week or a month and never give the subject of water a moment’s thought, can only be appreciated by those who are direfully familiar with the dependence placed upon the canteen in less favored regions.