“Snow Plants,” the latest episode of the popular Yosemite Nature Notes series, has been released. Each episode is about eight minutes and explores interesting and often little known stories about Yosemite National Park. This is the 21st episode of Yosemite Nature Notes.
The snow plant, Sarcodes Sanguinea, is a distinctive red plant that grows on the forest floor in late May and June, and can often be seen along park roads. The plant, which lacks the color green, sometimes grows through patches of snow. Snow plants are found throughout California, northern Baja, Mexico, and Southern Oregon.
Snow plants thrive between 4,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation. Lacking chlorophyll, snow plants nourish themselves by parasitizing on a fungus found in forest floor soils. This fungus has a mutually beneficial relationship with nearby pine and fir trees, helping the trees get water and nutrients in exchange for sugars from the tree. The snow plant has tapped into this energy source, obtaining nutrients and sugars from the fungus. Several other plant species in the park, pinedrops and some orchids, have developed a similar parasitic lifestyle. Many animals and insects feed on the pollen and nectar of the snow plant, including hummingbirds and bees.
“Anyone who comes to the Sierra Nevada this time of the year is going to be captivated by this plant,” stated Yosemite Park Ranger Erik Westerlund, who is featured in the episode.
The most common places in Yosemite to see Snow Plants is in Yosemite Valley, the Mariposa Grove, Glacier Point, along the Wawona Road and Tioga Road, and near the Porcupine Creek Trailhead.
“Yosemite Nature Notes inspires a love of the outdoors and interest in protecting park resources by connecting visitors from around the globe to Yosemite through the internet,” said Mike Tollefson, president, Yosemite Conservancy. “This is a fascinating, informative and visually compelling web series that takes viewers on a unique journey through the park to learn about its iconic features, history and the surprises that nature brings.”
The videos have been viewed by more than seven million people throughout the world. In addition to Yosemite Nature Notes, several bonus episodes have also been produced such as “Behind the Scenes: Moonbows,” “Winter Moments,” and “One Day in Yosemite.” Each episode typically takes several years to acquire footage and provide unique view of Yosemite that visitors may overlook. This also marks the fifth year of the popular web-based video series.
Production of Yosemite Nature Notes series was funded by Yosemite Conservancy. This series is produced by Filmmaker Steven M. Bumgardner.
The “Snow Plants” episode can be viewed directly at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSBqmAdR1tg.