This is a close-up of the foliage of the rare, protected Ione manzanita, Arctostaphylos myrtifolia observed near the famous Lygodium Gulch fossil leaf locality in the Middle Eocene Ione Formation. The Ione manzanita grows nowhere else on Earth in the wild, save on the extraordinarily harsh, acidic soils weathered from the Eocene Ione Formation within the unique Ione Chaparral botanic association, Ione Basin, Amador County, California. Image snapped on October 22, 2002.
In early October, 2002, I had received an email from paleobotanist Howard Schorn (retired Collections Manager Of Fossil Plants at the University California Museum Of Paleontology in Berkeley). A couple of professors he knew--one from a Community College, the other from a university--had contacted him regarding a possible field trip to the classic Lygodium Gulch fossil leaf-bearing site in the Middle Eocene Ione Formation, Ione Basin, western foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Amador County, California. Through a series of emails the professors, Howard and I all agreed that the weekend of October 25-27 would make an ideal and convenient time to visit the locality. In preparation for the field trip, though, I wanted to revisit the area and try to clear as much brush as possible along the trail to Lygodium Gulch--the path had become rather overgrown with the rough branches of scrub oak and White sticky-leaf manzanita; folks driving to the site traveled that trail at their own peril, since the branches from the brush could scratch the paint of passing vehicles with vicious ease. Also, I wanted to snap a few additional photographs of plant members of the Ione Chaparral--that unique association of vegetation that inhabits the harsh acidic soils developed on the weathered Middle Eocene Ione Formation, Ione Basin.
Please note: All fossil localities in the Ione Formation of Amador County, California, presently occur on private property; explicit permission from the land owners must be secured before collecting fossils there.