With camera in hand, Alice Cummings records the plants of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve

by Linda Hubbard on May 27, 2014

By her own account, long-time Menlo Park resident Alice Cummings fell back into photography rather than pursuing it. “When I was growing up I had a dark room and an enlarger and would make prints for my family,” she said, sitting at a picnic table at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, where she is a docent. “But I sort of forgot about it, although I generally recorded my life in photography, particularly my travels. I take a lot of trips.”

Alice worked for many years as a Resource Manager for the MidPeninsula Open Space District. “I took photos for them, too,” she said.

Calochortus albus WHITE GLOBE LILY/FAIRY-LANTERN. Road B.Four years ago she took the Jasper Ridge docent class, which required her to do a project. As she’d always liked plants and flowers, she got the idea of photographing what was blooming in different months. When her training was complete, she needed to decide on what her ongoing contribution would be.

“Rather than be a tour guide, I started going out with the herbarium group,” she explained. “They’ve cataloged 800 different species here on the Ridge. I’d photograph what they were cataloging. That’s what got me back into  photography.

“Now you can go to a specific section of the Jasper Ridge website and, once there, click on the Vascular Plant List. That is a PDF version that contains a list of all the plant species in the herbarium at Jasper Ridge, arranged by plant family, with scientific and common names for each species.

“If you click on any underlined species in the list, it will take you to a Flickr site with my and Toni Corelli’s photos of that plant. All the photos were taken at Jasper Ridge and include the date and usually the location. If you then click on an individual photo, it often has a caption with more information about the plant.”

One-leaved Onion by Alice Cummings

Alice finds herself traipsing around the ridges and meadows of Jasper Ridge, camera in hand, 52 weeks a year.

“I’m a person who likes to be outdoors. Photography is a good excuse to be outdoors and look closely at things. It’s an avenue to appreciate the beauty of the world, particularly in a wild place like Jasper Ridge.”

Photo of Alice Cummings by Rebecca Flanagan

Photo of White Glob Lily/Fairy-Lantern (vertical above) and One-Leaved Onion (horizontal above), both of which bloom in April and May by Alice Cummings

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