Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Limiting Factors Check A Population’s Expansion – Be it a Grizzly Bear or a California Fuchsia

©Bert Gildart: Why is it that the grizzly bear can inhabit the prairies while black bears must seek out lands that are wooded?  And why is it that the only place we’ve seen the California Fuchsia while in Anza Borrego Desert State Park is in shaded areas where there tends to be some moisture?

The answer to both these questions is simple.  Each species is governed by “limiting factors, ” conditions which retard or in some cases completely prevent a specific type of life from expanding, a fact that was driven home on a recent hike near Agua Caliente.

MoonlightCanyon (19 of 10)


In Moonlight Canyon, limiting factors were themselves “limited,” enabling these moisture-sensitive plants to extend their numbers to the point
where they now number in the hundreds — perhaps even thousands!

As Bill, a photographer friend, and I began our hike toward Moonlight Canyon several days ago, we were in the open – exposed and assaulted by harsh light.  What’s more the sandy soil on which we hiked contained no discernible moisture.  But then we entered Moonlight Canyon proper and immediately the walls narrowed creating welcome shade.  Suddenly, we saw butterflies and then, a few steps further, we found the most lavish growth of California Fuchsia I have ever seen.

Because the species is so brilliantly colored it is one you will always recognize.  Typically each petal is colored a brilliant red, a color you might want to call crimson red, scarlet red – or even blood red.  Taxonomically, its generic name is Epilopium, which includes fireweed, a showy plant that grows in Montana, my home state.  Fireweed is also colored a brilliant red.

MoonlightCanyon (11 of 10) MoonlightCanyon (18 of 10)


With its tubular appearance,  brilliant color, and showy reproductive structures, California Fuchsia is distinctive — perhaps even ostentatious!


As well as the ostentatious color, Fuschia exhibits bold reproductive structures.  Vastly elongated pistils and stamens extend from four long and slender sepals and four short and broad petals.  This is a species you will never forget and the fact that it is growing in Moonlight Canyon, which is still desert, seemed astounding.

But there it was, and like all other forms of life, it needs moisture and in the case of this plant, Moonlight Canyon with its shade and moisture, fulfills the plant’s needs; and does so in precisely the right proportions.  Here, the ground is not sucked dry by the sun’s intensity, and here shade lowers ambient temperatures.  And because moisture in this one area radiates, not only is there enough moisture for one plant but there is enough moisture for hundreds of plants, perhaps even thousands. And so in this beautiful water-carved canyon, Epilobium canum thrives.

MoonlightCanyon (10 of 10)

Almost immediately upon entering Moonlight Canyon, temperatures cooled and the sun's intensity diminished, serving to invite a broader variety of life. Later I was surprised to learn this was the venerable Monarch Butterfly! The two rows of tiny white dots in the outer portion of the wing provide confirmation.


And what about the bears of my first paragraph?

Because black bears evolved in the woods they learned to safeguard their young by sending them up a tree.  But not so with grizzly bears, which evolved in wide open areas.  To safeguard their young, sows turned vicious.  Black bears then are limited (confined, if you will) to forested areas, which controls population expansion almost as effectively as moisture controls the expansion of Fuchsias.

How lucky Bill and I were to find such an abundance of Fuchsia, reasonably free to expand because the plant’s limiting factors were, in fact, themselves —   limited.





*Fort Anne’s Popular Graveyard Stroll


*The Acadians and Their Tragic Deportation




(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)


One Response to “Limiting Factors Check A Population’s Expansion – Be it a Grizzly Bear or a California Fuchsia”

  1. History Safari Express » Blog Archive » Bert Gildart’s art Says:

    [...] of California Fuchsia I have ever seen…”, writes Bert in his weblog article, “Limiting Factors Check A Population’s Expansion…“, which includes his beautiful and colorful close-up [...]