Early Summer Blooms – Jackson Hole

TNP14_BalsSag_AntFl_61214_3aCrpSmThe weather has gone from summer back to spring (winter) today, June 14.  The flowers have popped throughout the valley with the heat of the past 10 days.  With little rain this spring, there is no time to lose to enjoy the riotous color and heady fragrances at lower elevations in the valley.  Fortunately, while flowers may be fading in the southern end of Jackson Hole, they are still fresh in the northern end.

Balsamroot - Sage Flats, Jackson HoleBalsamroot and the look-alike-but-not-quite mules-ears are in full yellow glory.

Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) has large arrow-shaped leaves with a grayish cast, all arising from the base.  Sun-yellow flowers stand well above the foliage.  Balsamroot is growing all along the sage flats and up the open hillsides.  Antelope Flats and the top of Signal Mountain feature impressive shows.

Mules-ears -Wyethia amplexifolia

Mules-ears –Wyethia amplexifolia

 

Mules-ear wyethia (Wyethia amplexicaulis) has deep green leaves shaped like huge mules ears, alternating up the 1-2’ stems (taller in wetter springs).  The 3-4” flowers are a deeper orange-yellow than balsamroot.  It is found in slightly moist spots, such as near the corner of Antelope Flats Road and the highway and along Cattleman’s Road just west of Oxbow Bend.

 

 

Amidst sage flats and into forest edges are many common favorites: Pink sticky geraniums, lavender to white long-leaved phlox, red scarlet gilia, blue lupines, and yellow modoc hawksbeard are showing their colors amidst the sunny balsamroot. Spikes of cream death camas grow intermittently along Gros Ventre Road south of Blacktail Butte, and patches of pale yellow paintbrush (Castilleja pilosa var. longespica) cluster along the northeastern side of the loop.  (Scroll down for photos.)

Wild Geranium - Geranium viscosissimum

Sticky Geranium – Geranium viscosissimum – The wide open, pink flowers with lines form landing pads for many kinds of pollinators eager for  pollen and nectar found in the center of the flower.

Longleaved Phlox - Phlox longifolia - has variable colors.  Note the petals twist in bud

Longleaved Phlox – Phlox longifolia – has variable colors from pink to lavender to white. Note the petals twist in bud.  Flowers are extremely fragrant!

Death Camus - Zigadenus venenosus - is indeed poisonous.  Racemes of cream colored flowers dress 1' stems with narrow basal leaves.

Death Camus – Zigadenus venenosus – is indeed poisonous. Racemes of cream colored flowers dress 1′ stems. Narrow leaves are mostly basal.

Scarlet Gilia (Ipomoxis aggregata) - Tubular red flowers attract hummingbirds, but also other long-tongued insects.

Scarlet Gilia – Ipomopsis aggregata  – Tubular red flowers attract hummingbirds, but also other long-tongued insects.

Lupine - Lupinus polyphyllus - found on sage flats has smooth banner, relatively large flowers which open wide.  Lupinus sericeous is also found on sage flats.

Bigleaf Lupine – Lupinus polyphyllus – found now on sage flats has a smooth “banner” petal and relatively large flowers which open wide. Silky Lupine – Lupinus sericeous – is also found on sage flats. There are 5 species to learn.

Modoc Hawksbeard - Crepis modocensis - The leaves are often pinnately lobed, the flowers have black hairs.  Several species.

Modoc Hawksbeard – Crepis modocensis – The leaves are often pinnately lobed and alternate up the stem; the flower heads have black, stiff hairs. Several species.

Desert parsley provides a persistent yellow haze along park roads and deep blue Nuttall’s larkspur is beautiful at Lupine Meadows right now.  Lambs-tongue groundsel and nodding microseries, with its drooping buds and dandelion-like flowers, provide frequent splashes of yellow.  A large sky blue penstemon (Penstemon cyaneus) occasionally finds a spot on gravelly slopes.

Desert Parsely - Lomatium ambiguum - grows along dry, disturbed roads sides in the park.

Desert Parsely – Lomatium ambiguum – grows along dry, disturbed roadsides in the park.

Lupine Meadows with Nuttall's Larkspur - Delphinium nutallianum - 6/14/15

Lupine Meadows with Nuttall’s Larkspur – Delphinium nutallianum – 6/14/15

Groundsel - Senecio integerrimus - is common in sage flats.  Look for the even sized involucral bracts around the flower heads and the cobwebby hairs on the stem and leaves.

Lambs-tongue Groundsel – Senecio integerrimus – is common in sage flats. Look for the even- sized involucral bracts around the flower heads and the cobwebby hairs on the stem and variable leaves.

Nuttall's Larkspur - Delphinium nuttallianum - has deep blue flowers.

Nuttall’s Larkspur – Delphinium nuttallianum – has deep blue, complex flowers that bar many but the strongest and smartest pollinators, such as bumblebees.

Nodding Microseries - Microseries nutans - looks a bit like a dandelion or an agrostis, but bud droop and the pappus is feathered.  Leaves are mostly, but not all basal, and narrow.

Nodding Microseries – Microseries nutans – looks a bit like a dandelion or an agrostis, but the buds droop and the pappus (fluff) is feathered. Leaves are mostly, but not, all basal and narrow.

Blue penstemon - Penstemon cyaneus - identification relies on hairiness of plants and even anthers!  The anthers here slit open and are held at an angle.

Blue penstemon – Penstemon cyaneus – Penstemon identification relies on hairiness of plants and even anthers! The anthers here are hairy on the back, slit open, and are held at an angle. The flowers and stem are smooth.

Shrubs of antelopebrush (also called bitterbrush) perfume the sage flats with their small yellow flowers. Serviceberry has short clusters of five-petaled flowers while black chokecherry has long wands of flowers that wave along the edges of moister hillsides, such as along the Moose-Wilson Road and Old Pass Road in the south and Oxbow Bend in the north end of the park. These two white-flowering shrubs are members of the rose family and will have berries important for bears, birds, and other wildlife come late summer into fall.

Antelopebrush is perfuming Jackson Hole.

Antelope/bitterbrush perfumes Jackson Hole.

Antelopebrush - Purshia tridentata - has fragrant pale yellow flowers and three-pointed leaves.

Antelopebrush – Purshia tridentata – has fragrant pale yellow flowers and three-pointed leaves.  Moose reslish this plant in winter.

Chokecherry - Prunus virginiana - has long wands of flowers attractive to many pollinators.  Fruits are vital to wildlife.

Chokecherry – Prunus virginiana – has long wands of flowers attractive to many pollinators. Fruits are vital to wildlife.

Serviceberry - Amelanchier alnifolia - is in the rose family and produces delicious fruits for people and wildlife.

Serviceberry – Amelanchier alnifolia – is in the rose family and produces delicious fruits for people and wildlife.

Tent caterpillars will soon cocoon and metamorphose into moths.

Tent caterpillars will soon cocoon and metamorphose into moths.

You may notice the tent caterpillars defoliating chokecherry.  They build their silken tents where they capture the sun on spring mornings, warming the bodies of these industrious, spinning creatures.  Soon they will cocoon individually and after a couple of weeks become moths.  The caterpillars are protein bars for birds.

Flat Creek Road through the north end of the National Elk Refuge features early Indian paintbrushes, one brilliant red (Castilleja chromosa) the other yellow (Castilleja flava var. rustica), which dot the dry ground.   Low mats of pussytoes (Antennaria microphylla) and daisies (Erigeron spp.) spread through yellow patches of arnica (Arnica sororia, A. longifolia), stemless goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis) and a clump or two of blue humble penstemon (Penstemon humilis) rise along the hills to the north. Strong winds are challenging to their insect pollinators.  However, grasses are waving their miniature flower heads for the breeze to facilitate pollination.  Soon sulphur buckwheat will add soft yellow hues to the scene.  The fuzzy fruits of Pursh’s Milkvetch can be found lying on gravelly soils.

Red Indian Paintbrush with Stemless Goldenweed - Castilleja chromosa and Stenotus acaulis - grow out Flat Creek Road.

Red Indian Paintbrush with Stemless Goldenweed – Castilleja chromosa and Stenotus acaulis – grow out Flat Creek Road.

Yellow Indian Paintbrush - Castelleja flava var rustica - one of several yellow paintbrushes.  The details are in the flower proportions and bract shape, as well as  hairs and color. Not easy to ID.

Yellow Indian Paintbrush – Castelleja flava var. rustica – one of several yellow paintbrushes. The details are in the flower proportions and bract shape, as well as hairs and color. Not easy to ID.

Rosey Pusseytoes - Antennaria rosea/microphylla - The small heads can be pink to white.

Rosey Pusseytoes – Antennaria rosea/microphylla – The small heads can be pink to white.  Silvery leaves are small and create low tight mats. Several pusseytoes are in bloom right now.  Fun botanical puzzles!

Sulphur Buckwheat - Eriogonum - will soon be blooming throughout the valley.

Sulphur Buckwheat – Eriogonum umbellatum – will soon be blooming throughout the valley.

Pursh's Milkvetch - Astragalus purshii - Inhabitats of dry exposed flats, the early spring flowers from fuzzy fruits already!

Pursh’s Milkvetch – Astragalus purshii – inhabits dry, exposed soils. The early spring, pea-like flowers form fuzzy fruits already!

And finally, blue camas and white mule’s ears are in full spender in a wetmeadow at the north end of the park.

White Mules-ears - Wyethia helianthoides - and Blue Camas - Camassia quamash - bloom together in a wet meadow.

White Mules-ears – Wyethia helianthoides – and Blue Camas – Camassia quamash – bloom together in a wet meadow.

These are just a few of the wildflowers to see right now–coming and going–this mid June.

Please let us know what your are finding.

Frances Clark, Wilson, WY

June 14, 2014

White Mules-ears and Blue Camas in a wet meadow.

White Mules-ears and Blue Camas in a wet meadow.

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3 thoughts on “Early Summer Blooms – Jackson Hole

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