View of Mt. Shasta from the cliffs above Castle Lake. Photo Credit: Kristi Lazar.
High up on the granitic cliffs overlooking Castle Lake near Mt Shasta hides a beautiful little plant that is rarely seen by hikers. This plant is a local endemic called the Castle Crags harebell (Campanula shetleri). This species is known from fewer than 10 occurrences in the Castle Crags area and nearly all of those occurrences were last documented in the 1970s and 1980s!
Two CNDDB botanists recently had the opportunity to visit a population of Castle Crags harebell during a botany workshop organized by the Friends of the Jepson Herbarium. One of our two instructors for the workshop, Heath Bartosh, led a small group of botanical enthusiasts up the steep, north-facing granitic cliffs above Castle Lake and Heart Lake to search for this elusive plant. As we spread out and searched the precarious cliffs, a fellow botanist yelled out that they had found the Castle Crags harebell near the top of the ridge! Everyone excitedly rushed over to the rocky crevices where this small blue-flowered plant was living to take photos and notes documenting the population. While finding this plant was an absolute joy, so was the view that greeted us as we looked up from where the plants were growing to see Mt Shasta and Black Butte in the distance and the waters of Heart Lake and Castle Lake below.
If you find yourself stumbling along granitic cliffs in the Castle Crags area, keep an eye out for the Castle Crags harebell and submit your observation to CNDDB via our Online Field Survey Form.
If you find yourself craving botanical adventures, consider participating in the workshops organized by the Friends of the Jepson Herbarium. You never know what cool and unusual plants you may see!
Castle Crags harebell(Campanula shetleri) in the granitic cliffs above Castle Lake. Photo credit: Kristi Lazar.