Friday, March 27, 2015

Wildflowers οκτώ

Penstemons near Fairy Falls, YNP

Another installment of wildflowers.  This time I'll focus mainly on desert wildflowers, but I'll start with one from the Yellowstone, Fairy Falls trip last summer.

Blue Eyed Grass
Sisyrinchium idahoense

Blue eyed grass near Fairy Falls, YNP

and another

and another

At first I mistook this plant for deadly nightshade because of the coloring.  It grows below 7,900 feet above sea level in moist, grassy meadows and open woodlands.  It can be found along stream banks.  These specimens were discovered near Fairy Falls in Yellowstone.

Evening Primrose
Oenothera caespitosa

Evening primrose on the R Mountain



Seed pods

Closed in full sun


I don't know much about the evening primrose, but I know it's a desert plant and has a long woody taproot.  One man's weed is another man's wildflower I suppose.  I thought they were interesting though.  The evening primrose opens later in the day, toward evening sometimes.  I think it also opens in the shade which is the case for the ones I saw.  The bloom can open in under a minute.  They grow in disturbed soil, and that's about all I know about them.

Prickly Pear
Opuntia macroorhiza

Prickly Pear

Single bloom


and another

Different looking bloom

I have lived in the sagebrush steppes of Idaho for thirty-eight years and have seen many prickly pear cacti.  A couple of years ago we took a hike along the Henry's Fork of the Snake River and I saw prickly pear cacti that had been in bloom.  It dawned on me I had never seen one in bloom in all the years I have lived here.  I decided last year to rectify that.  We took a hike in June on the R Mountain, which is an extinct volcano west of town.  We also walked through a lava flow at Hell's Half Acre and we spotted prickly pear in bloom in both places.  The photos above are from the R Mountain.  The ones below will be from Hell's Half Acre Lava Flow.

Prickly pear at Hell's Half Acre


With the pollinator

Another cluster

Sagebrush Mariposa Lily
Calochortus macrocarpus

Sagebrush mariposa lily

and it's brother

a first cousin

And the red-headed stepchild

The sagebrush mariposa lily is found from Oregon to Montana, eastern Washington up through parts of western Canada.  It was once very common and I believe the bulb was used as a food source.  Development, agriculture and cattle grazing have exiled this majestic flower to lava rock outcrops and steep rocky hillsides where cattle have a hard time existing.  We were fortunate enough to see several of these both on our hike of the R Mountain and our walk through the lava flow at Hell's Half Acre last June.  Those pictured above are from the R Mountain and those below are from Hell's Half Acre.

Sagebrush mariposa lily with the pollinator

Side view from Hell's Half Acre

Thanks for reading, I've enjoyed hunting these wildflowers for the last two or three years.  Nature is never boring.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wildflowers Siete

Wildflower meadow on the Huckleberry Trail to Tablerock, July of 2014

And yet another installment of cool wildflowers I have seen in my travels.

Sky Pilot
Polemonium eximium

Growing in the loose rock on top of Tablerock

Sky Pilot

Sky Pilot is a wildflower I had never noticed before, and for good reason.  It only grows above 10,000 feet above sea level.  Sky Pilot grows in alpine conditions and usually grows where other plants don't.  I was fortunate to catch this while it was in bloom.  This specimen was on top of Tablerock in the Teton Mountains.  Elevation 11,106'.

Alpine Buttercup
Ranunculus eschscholtzii

Alpine Buttercup

Alpine Buttercups grow around 10,000 feet above sea level also.  I saw this specimen on the same hike to Tablerock.  This particular specimen was viewed at about 10,500 feet above sea level.

Moss Campion
Silene auculis

Moss Campion

Moss Campion grows all over the western United States in alpine or tundra conditions.  In other words, above the treeline.  This particular specimen was viewed on top of Tablerock.  It was at the end of it's blooming cycle.

Fritillaria pudica

Yellowbells in Harriman State Park

Another view

Yellowbells are a member of the lily family, and the Fritillaria pudica is one of only three fritillaria species found in Idaho.  They are among the first flowers to bloom in the spring, but they don't last long.  Yellowbells typically grow on the sagebrush steppe of the western states.  Yellowbell bulbs were an important food source for the nomadic peoples who used to roam the plains.  Because they aren't as plentiful as they once were, eating them should be reserved for emergencies.

These yellowbells were photographed in Harriman State Park in June of 2014.


This yellowbell was photographed near String Lake in Grand Teton National Park in June of 2014

Fringed Gentian
Gentianopsis thermalis

Fringed gentian at Black Sands Spring near West Yellowstone

and another one

Fringed gentians in their natural habitat

Fringed gentians near Mystic Falls in Yellowstone National Park
The fringed gentian is a true rockstar in Yellowstone National Park.  It is the official flower of Yellowstone.  It is a subalpine flower that grows in boggy or marshy areas in the western states.  One of my favorite flowers in Yellowstone.  That's why I'm going to put up more pictures.

The ones above were taken in July of 2013 on the same day, the first at Black Sands Spring near the town of West Yellowstone and the others on the Mystic Falls Trail at the end of the Biscuit Basin boardwalk.

Fringed Gentian in Virginia Meadows, Yellowstone

More fringed gentians in Virginia Meadows

Even more

These gentian pictures were taken on a hike at the end of July, 2013 to Little Gibbon Falls, near Norris Junction in Yellowstone National Park

Cool fringed gentian


and another

Not quite open

A few more for good measure

I'm a designer, I'm drawn to shape and color, texture, line and shape.  The wildflowers in Yellowstone have all that.  I truly live in a great part of the country.  Hiking season is just around the corner.  I can't wait.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2015 West Yellowstone for Valentines Day

Henry's Lake Flats in the snow

I grew up in West Yellowstone, at least in the summertime.  One of my best childhood friends called me up and needed a little help with a project.  We drove up on Valentines Day and stayed over and went to Church the next day.  It was really cool to go back to that congregation.  It had been twenty-seven years since I had been to church there.  It was so good to see some of the old timers that I haven't seen for all that time.  I still recognized them and they all recognized me.  It will not be another twenty-seven years before I go back to church there.  It was so nice to see old friends.

We weren't in a hurry to get up to West Yellowstone because our friends weren't going to be available until evening so we decided to take the scenic route through Bear Gulch.  I wanted to see Mesa Falls in the snow.  I think it would be really beautiful.  We drove down through Warm River Canyon and up the side of the caldera and descended into Bear Gulch.  And we discovered that the road was closed due to snow.  Next time we'll have to take skinny skis or snowshoes to make it into Mesa Falls.  So we backtracked and headed up the regular way.

The Tetons from Marysville, Idaho

The Tetons from the observation point at the top of the Island Park Caldera

The old stone bridge in Warm River Canyon

We drove up through Island Park and on up to West Yellowstone.  Our friends still weren't back from their obligations so we kicked around a bit in town.  We saw a spectacular sunset and a murder of crows.

Sawtell in the snow

February on the flats

Spectacular sunset over West Yellowstone

A murder of crows



We conducted our business with our friends and the next morning we attended church services.  After that, we headed home.  Once again, we decided to take a scenic route.  We weren't in a hurry.  There is a scenic byway that takes off in Island Park, Idaho and travels over to the Camas Battlefield on the Nez Perce Trail.  There is a wildlife sanctuary that one of my colleagues goes to frequently and I wanted to visit.  Once again, after we had gone ten or twelve miles down the scenic byway, the road was closed to all but snowmobiles.  So we turned around and headed home.  We'll hit the scenic byways later in the year when the snow has melted.

Creek near Shotgun Village in the snow

White on white, aspens in the snow

Another creek in the snow

I love the look of aspens in the snow


It's why I keep taking pictures of it

It was a quick trip up and back, but it was a nice time.  We didn't get to spend a great deal of time with our friends, but we did see them.  We saw some beautiful scenery in the snow and that was nice.  I keep wanting to get up to Yellowstone and take a snowcoach tour of Yellowstone National Park.  It'll have to wait until next year now.