[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Ancient Desert Rings | 10-13-2016
Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
47°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 23
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]


Back to Nature | Commentary by Linda Castro
| Thursday, Oct 13, 2016
rings02
Cresote bush. Photo: Thomas Egan
 

LindaCastroIf you take a trip to or through the desert, you will likely see this plant as you drive down the road. Most people can identify it – the creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), otherwise known as greasewood. The creosote bush is a flowering medicinal herb that is a prominent species in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of California and other desert regions in the Southwest.

What most people probably do not know is that some of these plants can be centuries old. As the creosote bush grows older, its oldest branches eventually die, and its crown splits into separate crowns or rings, with later growth expanding outward from the main center point. This usually happens when the plant is about 30 to 90 years old. Eventually, the old crown dies, and the new one becomes a clonal colony from the previous plant.

The clonal colony is made up of a group of genetically identical plants that have grown in a location, which all originated vegetatively and not sexually from a single ancestor. What this means is that the individual plants in the colony reproduce underground from one common plant, rather than from separate seeds. Above ground, these plants appear to be distinct individuals, but underground they remain interconnected and are all clones of the same plant.

Creosote bush rings are considered rare and “sensitive” by federal and state agencies and scientific communities, but they have not been given the protection of the state or federal endangered species acts. The Bureau of Land Management has chosen to protect a fairly large concentration of these rings in an area called the Soggy Dry Lake Creosote Rings Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). This area is located east of Lucerne Valley and north of Highway 247 and abuts the Johnson Valley Off Highway Vehicle Area.

The BLM designated the Soggy Dry Lake Creosote Rings ACEC to protect the largest known creosote rings on public lands administered by the federal government. The rings of creosote within the area have recently been identified as the world’s oldest living plant; some are estimated to be about 10,000 years old. Even the average age of individual creosote bushes in this area is likely well over 600 years old.

rings01

King Clone

King Clone is believed to be the oldest creosote bush ring; it is estimated to be about 11,700 years old, which makes it one of the oldest living organisms on Earth. King Clone reaches about 67 feet in diameter with an average diameter of 45 feet. It is in an area that is fenced off with a barbless wire, but there are no signs prohibiting entry by foot. Somewhat surprisingly, there are also no signs or anything that would suggest anything important exists within the area.

Not only are creosote bush rings incredibly old; their contribution to our global carbon sequestration is only recently becoming more fully understood and appreciated. (Carbon sequestration is the long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon either to mitigate or defer global warming.) The older the plants, the more they have been found to contribute to sequestration of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

King Clone, seen from above.

King Clone, seen from above.

Creosote rings are often difficult to discern on the ground but can be seen easily in aerial photographs.

The next time you are out in the desert and come upon some creosote, perhaps you will take an extra few minutes to really look. Do you see a large ring of creosote plants? If so, you are likely looking at a creosote bush ring that is much older than you.

 

 

Linda Castro is a nature enthusiast and animal lover.  She is the Desert Field Organizer for the California Wilderness Coalition and serves on the board of the SCV-based Community Hiking Club.  Her commentaries relate to California’s deserts.

 

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

4 Comments

  1. Elaine Hanson says:

    What a wonderful article! I’ve heard of the creosote rings and have seen one but did not know all the other
    amazing information about the rings or the creostoe bush. Now I a better idea of what I should look for and why they are important. Such an area should be protected. Thank you for the informative article Linda.

  2. Joe Bellavia says:

    Some articles on the medicinal benefits of the plant and Indian usage of the plant are always appreciated.
    Joe B

  3. Karen Greenslate says:

    In years of enjoying the pungent fragrance of Creosote (we called them Greasewood) bushes in the desert, particularly after a rain, I never observed an actual “ring” structure. Great article. Love learning more about plants I have enjoyed for so long.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Related Content
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Jan 20, 2017
It finally happened. The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus is closing very shortly.  There's nothing to fear over losing this circus because another is actively swelling to massive proportions. Hysteria and annihilation are the main attractions. It's the Left's Circus over the duly elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Thursday, Jan 19, 2017
As the council wanted to appoint someone anyway, why not appoint the candidate who came in next place in the election?
Thursday, Jan 19, 2017
More than two million people visit Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park each year. While there are many beautiful and interesting places to visit in each of those parks, there are many desert treasures that can be found outside of those national parks. One of those treasures, Trona Pinnacles, is located about 28 miles east of Ridgecrest in the Mojave Desert.
Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017
This past holiday season, I found myself in line at the airport counter, waiting to check a bag prior to a flight to visit family and friends. The gentlemen in front of me got frustrated when the customer agent said he had to pay more to check a bag because he hadn’t paid for it online beforehand.
Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017
On June 11th, 2015, SCOPE (Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment) joined with Citizens for Chiquita Canyon Compliance, a Val Verde group and local residents to file a civil rights complaint against the county of Los Angeles, complaining that the majority Spanish-speaking community of Val Verde was suffering from discrimination by the County's failure to notify of them of the massive proposed expansion of Chiquita Canyon Landfill just over the ridge from their homes.
Friday, Jan 13, 2017
There were cries from Democrats after the 2016 election demanding the new Republican domination of the House, Senate and oval office that “we” have to work together. That demand didn’t last long. The marching orders from top Democrats and the Left are to obstruct Republicans at every corner on every item at all times. New Senate Minority leader, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), started using the word “vetting” to make the ‘obstruction’ more palatable. Don’t fall for it; it’s intentionally designed obstruction, period.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
An informational meeting has been scheduled for January 24, 2017 to inform the public of the discovery of Quagga Mussel at Pyramid Lake and what is being done to stop the spread of it.
Jan. 24: Informational Meeting Regarding Quagga Mussel
The SoCalGas Advisory asks all customers to immediately reduce their natural gas use to help lower the risk of possible natural gas and electricity shortages.
SoCalGas Warning: Use Less Natural Gas Now
Sierra Bancorp recognized consolidated net income of $5.517 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, an increase of $1.588 million, or 40%, relative to the third quarter of 2016 due primarily to non-recurring income and lower one-time acquisition costs.
Sierra Bancorp Profits Up 40% on One-Time Gains
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, the winter storms that passed through the Santa Clarita Valley may be over and evacuated residents are able to go home, but there are still concerns about flooding and mudslides. Plus, a local coffee store was burglarized early Monday morning. Check out these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Monday, January 23, 2017
Santa Clarita Valley volunteers are planning to join in a countywide effort to count the local homeless population Tuesday night, and residents can still sign up to volunteer.
SCV Residents to Count Homeless Population Tuesday Night
The recent window-smash burglaries plaguing the Santa Clarita Valley recently struck Honu Coffee in Newhall early Monday morning.
Local Coffee Shop Burglarized in Early Morning Window-Smashing
The Rancho Camulos tradition to reenact Helen Hunt Jackons's 1883 visit that inspired her to make this California Rancho one of the settings for her novel "Ramona" is back again on January 28 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Jan. 28: Rancho Camulos Reenacts Historic Helen Hunt Jackson Visit
The Santa Clarita Public Library is bringing story-time home to families and children: residents can now listen to stories by dialing the library’s main phone line at (661) 259-0750 and dialing extension 4.
Santa Clarita Public Library Launches Dial-A-Story Program
Students from Academy of the Canyons Middle College High School (AOC), part of the William S. Hart Union High School District, will once again be participating in the bi-annual Project Linus Make a Blanket Day on Saturday, February 18, 2016, at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall.
AOC Students to be Part of Project Linus
The County Interim Health Officer is extending a Cold Weather Alert due to the National Weather Service’s forecast for low temperatures expected in parts of L.A. County, including the Santa Clarita Valley.
Jan. 25 – 27: Cold Weather Alert for SCV, Parts of L.A. County
Thursday, January 26th is Paul Newman’s birthday and The Painted Turtle is celebrating the power of Paul and his legacy by brother Arthur Newman and his wife, Patty, matching every gift made in Paul's honor.
Painted Turtle Celebrating Paul Newman Birthday, Legacy
Quest Toastmasters of Santa Clarita is presenting a seminar called "It's Okay to be Different!" at the Valencia Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 23 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 23: Quest Toastmasters Present ‘It’s Okay to be Different’
LIMS (the Lifton Institute of Media Arts & Sciences) in association with the Santa Clarita-based 25Score Marketing Group is now accepting veterans’ applications for the intensive “VET 200” entertainment industry training program at the studio.
LIMS ‘VET 200’ Program Provides Vets a Golden Ticket to New Career
A recap of the end of the year and a sneak peek at new events coming to the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita.
News from the Domestic Violence Center
Following a tradition dating back more than a century, Providence Health & Services will grant a total of $365,200 Tuesday to 17 San Fernando Valley area nonprofit groups that serve the homeless, the disabled, school children in low-income areas and other vulnerable populations.
Providence Partnering with Nonprofit Groups
The Hart School District and Balfor-Beatty, the contractor that built the Canyon High School Performing Arts Center, received a safety award from the Statewide Educational Wrap Up Program (SEWUP).
Hart District Receives Safety Award
As rainstorms hit the Santa Clarita Valley and L.A. County, it is important to continue planning and preparing for the increased potential of flooding, mudslides and debris run-off.
LACoFD Offers Tips for Flood Management
Feature films, TV and reality TV are currently being filmed in Santa Clarita this week.
Currently Filming in SCV: Fan Girl, Last Man on Earth, Fan Slam
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]
1839 - Gov. Juan B. Alvarado gives most of SCV to Mexican Army Lt. Antonio del Valle [story]
Western music fans shouldn’t be terribly surprised if 2017 Cowboy Festival marks the last time they can catch the three-part harmonies of Sons of the San Joaquin in Santa Clarita.
Sons of the San Joaquin Release Final Album Ahead of 2017 Festival
1914 - Signal newspaper owner-editor Scott Newhall born in San Francisco [story]
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, an overnight and early morning storm caused flooding, downed trees, and accidents throughout SCV Friday. Plus, the sole victim of a plane crash in Lake Hughes has been identified. Watch these stories and more on tonight's edition of SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Friday, January 20, 2017
News and views from College of the Canyons.
News from COC: The Bottom Line, Winter 2016/17
A series of storms is sweeping through Los Angeles County, with the final and strongest one predicted to affect the area late Saturday night through Monday. The combined rainfall totals for all three storms could be 3.00-6.00” for coastal and valley areas, with up to 9.00” possible in some foothill and mountain areas. Potential impacts include flash flooding and debris flows for recent burn areas, rock and mudslides along canyon roads, urban and small stream flooding, significant travel delays, isolated power outages, and dangerous driving conditions.
L.A. County Braces for a Series of Storms
Medical examiners identified a man whose body was found on Christmas Day near Agua Dulce.
Human Remains Found in Agua Dulce Identified
Parents and students will be offered information about healthy study habits and managing mental health at the William S. Hart Union High School District’s Parent and Student Empowerment (PASE) Information Night.
Hart District to Discuss Mental Health, Study Habits
Coroner’s officials identified the sole victim of a Lake Hughes plane crash Friday.
Plane Crash Victim Identified
10 Things to Expect at Thursdays @ Newhall
10 Things to Expect at Thursdays @ Newhall
On Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00 P.M, Trinity Classical Academy’s Speaker Series welcomes Dr. Hugh Ross, PhD, astronomer, best-selling author, and Founder of Reason To Believe.
Feb. 7: Trinity Classical Academy’s Speaker Series
The Board of Supervisors has appointed Dr. Christopher Rogers to the position of Acting Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner, effective Friday.
County Names New Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner
The California High-Speed Rail Authority will be hosting five community open house meetings in the Bakersfield to Palmdale Project Section starting next Saturday, January 28 in Rosamond.
California High-Speed Rail Authority to Host Public Meetings
Valencia High School students take honors at 2017 Socal Career Development Conference.
VHS Students Take Honors at Socal Career Development Conference
Princess Cruises received top honors in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards, being named “Best Ocean Cruise Line” after the cruise line was nominated by cruise industry experts and ultimately voted on by USA TODAY readers. In addition, Princess Cruises was recognized for “Best Cruise Ship Entertainment,” “Best Cruise Ship Dining” and “Best Cruise Ship for Families.”
Princess Cruises Named in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice
Assemblyman Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, has announced his committee appointments including his selection to serve as Vice Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources.
Acosta Named to Several Committees
Two senior al-Qaida operatives were killed recently in separate U.S. airstrikes in Syria, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in two statements.
Two al-Qaida Operatives Killed in Syria