Natives Can Take the Heat

I’m sure you’ve heard the US has experienced the hottest July on record, and over half of the country is in drought. Corn farmers are plowing their crops under as they shrivel in the dry soil and intense sun. Food prices are expected to rise.

I was not comforted as I hiked through our horse pasture. It is dry, dry, dry. What little grass came up in May, now crunches underfoot. Wyoming is usually hot and dry in July, but the difference this year is that the high temps and lack of precipitation started way back in March.

I didn’t take my camera with me because 1. I wanted a work out and if I have the camera, I will dally and 2. I didn’t expect to see anything blooming. Oh, how I underestimated our beloved native plants.

It’s  hard to describe the affect of blooming Eriogonum (brevicaule?) in the midst of dry, brown, burnt rangeland. It’s chartreuse color is shocking, dazzling- especially where it is often found against a backdrop of red clay.

Eriogonum Bringing Color in Drought

Another old faithful is filling the roadside bar ditches with a sunny display of yellow. While I see this plant every year, I think 2012’s weather has taught me to truly appreciate Grindelia squarrosa. This year it’s lining the dirt roads with an unprecedented impact. Grindelia squarrosa is also called Curly Cup Gumweed. This steadfast defier of drought is covered in a gummy resin historically used for many purposes including treating coughs and as a chewing gum.

Grindelia squarrosa

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