Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wildflowers Fifth

Wildflowers on the trail to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone
I'm gearing up for hiking season.  I have a couple of trailguides for Yellowstone, I have my Rocky Mountain Wildflower book and I've been power walking.  I've also been going through photo files of some of our family trips, looking at the wildflowers.  I haven't posted anything about wildflowers for awhile, and it's still too early to do much hiking so now is a good time to post about some of the wildflowers we saw.  I think this time I'll focus on ones I consider exotic.

White Bog Orchid
Platanthera dilitata

White Bog Orchid
Yellowstone is actually home to twelve native orchid species.  I always thought orchids were tropical.  I was wrong.  The White Bog Orchid, as the name suggests, grows in boggy areas.  Who knew?

I photographed this bog orchid on the trail to Fairy Falls in mid-July.  This specimen was within a couple hundred yards of the pool at the base of Fairy Falls.  If you were facing the falls, it would be on the right hand side of the trail.  as you would expect, I found it in a boggy area.

Elephant Head Lousewort
Pedicularis groenlandica

Elephant Head Lousewort

Closer
Elephant Head Lousewort is an exotic species that grows mainly in wet areas.  The stalk has multiple blooms, each of which resembles an elephant's head, complete with large ears and a trunk.  They can grow up to 80 centimeters in height.

These were photographed near the White Bog Orchid on the Fairy Falls trail.

More elephant heads

still more

Tons of them
These last three pictures were taken on June 22nd, 2014 on the trail to Artist Paint Pots.

Houndstongue
Cynoglossum officianale

Houndstongue

More

How it grows

The purple version
Houndstongue is a non-native plant that was accidentally introduced from Europe.  It is a noxious weed which competes with native plants and shrubs for nutrients.  Folklore suggests wearing a leaf of the Houndstongue plant in your shoe will ward off dog attacks.  It is also said to cure baldness and madness.  Science has not yet weighed in on these claims.

These specimens were photographed on the Osprey Falls trail, clinging to the canyon wall on July 8th, 2014

Pasqueflower
Pulsatilla patens

Pasqueflower

Pasqueflower or Prairie Crocus

Cluster

Side view
We happened upon these pasqueflowers in the middle of May, 2014.  I had never seen them before and had to do a little researching to identify them.  As near as I can tell, they are a relative to the crocus and only bloom for a short time in the early spring.  I photographed these at the pullout at Undine Falls in Yellowstone National Park.  Undine Falls is on the north loop road between Mammoth and Tower Falls.  I went back to this location a couple of weeks after to see these flowers again and they were all gone.  I couldn't even find the plants.  These are a short season flower.

More pasqueflowers

single bloom

from another direction
The pasqueflowers in the last three pictures were photographed on the same day as the others but several miles on, at Petrified Tree near Tower Falls


I am excited for another season of hiking, birding and wildflower identification.  The snow can't melt soon enough for me this year.  We buy an annual pass to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and we more than get our money's worth from them.  It's great to live in this area.

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