Gotta Be Tough

Spring time in Wyoming is defined by rapid changes in weather. The sun may shine, or it might rain or snow, or rain AND snow, all in the same day. Wet spring snows usually melt quickly into the warming ground. They may be inconvenient, but it’s good to know the earth is getting watered after…

Curlleaf Mountain Mahogany: Witness of the Ages

And so it begins. A little snow melt running down a crack in the rock, a little pooling here and there, and when all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, a native shrub germinates in a sea of rock. It’s not hard to imagine why this green plant is attractive forage for big game…

Among all the dainty flowers above 9000 ft in the Bighorn Range sits the showy Primula parryi, named in honor of Charles Parry, an esteemed botanist in the early days of the US Department of Agriculture.  The second photo is the flower from the side, showing the united petals.

The Pollinators are Here

The cherry trees are abuzz with insect activity. As one of the earliest flowers around my house, the cherry trees offer an early source of nectar to pollinating insects. Insects represent 80% of the world’s species. There are over 900,000 species of insects. Worldwide, many scientists agree there are more unnamed insects than named. There…

Arctic Blast

A temperature drop of 80 degrees in less than 48 hours: That’s what most of Wyoming experienced early this week. It was a balmy 60 degrees late Sunday night, and a klondike-like 16 degrees below zero Tuesday morning. I can’t help but wonder how the local flora and fauna survive these extremes. The range plants…

Western Blue Flag

Iris missouriensis forms a rhizomatous clump and can exist in large colonies. Its range extends from BC to Baja California and east to Minnesota. The beautiful purple flower is actually composed of three sepals, three petals and three petal-like styles. Also called Wild Iris and Missouri Iris, the leaves, stems and roots are poisonous if…

Growing Roots

If you have spent much time among rock outcrops, badlands, or the Rocky Mountains, you’ve probably seen trees and shrubs sprouting from what looks like solid rock.

Mountain Snowpack Critical for Stream Flows

Well, we’ve had a few wet snows in the last two weeks here in Wyoming. Due to the warm weather in the first half of April (at least here in Central Wyoming), the soil at lower elevations is able to absorb much of the moisture from these snows, which is a welcome occurrence. I recently heard…

Revegetation Efforts Should Focus on Native Plant Species

Propagating native plants in volumes large enough to produce commercial quantities of native seed is not always an easy, or inexpensive task, but using native plant species in revegetation efforts on federal and state lands should be the norm, not the exception.  This National Forest in Michigan is taking the needed long range approach to…

Patches of Native Plants Increase Crop Pollination

Using large mango farms as a case study, a group of researchers representing Britain, South Africa, and the Netherlands, recently reported the results of a study in the Journal of Applied Ecology which “show that the presence of small patches of native flowers within large farms can increase pollinator-dependent crop production if combined with preservation…

Headway Against Cheatgrass in Our Future?

I sure  hope so. I’ve always wondered about that fungus I’ve seen on cheatgrass. Wonder if it’s the Black Finger of Death? Great Basin scientists unleash new weapons to fight invasive cheatgrass I would like to comment, however on an enlightening chat I had with my great uncle. He lived through the severe drought years…

Gaillardia aristata

Sometimes I’m guilty of not wanting to grow what’s “already been done” as far as native plants are concerned, but I would do well to remember that folks who grow, propagate, and select native plants for use in the arid west usually have a pragmatic bent, and there’s a reason it’s “been done.” We had…