More flowers blooming in Jackson Hole early July 2016

Flowers keep unfurling this Fourth of July week. Here is a quick post ofTNP_GrCanTr_Asp_BJM_7.3.16_1a_Q1_5x3 wildflowers you may see hiking or driving throughout Jackson Hole. Enjoy skimming through the photos for their names. And if you have a moment, read the captions to find out a quick fact you can share with a friend.

Sunny dry habitats, such as sage flats and south facing slopes:

B_LupiSeri_habfl_AntFl_7513_2sm

Silky LupineLupinus sericeus – has fine silvery hairs covering most of the 2’-2.5’ plants.

4.LupiSeri_lf_AntFl_7513_1Q2_crp3x3LupiSeri_FlCU_BlkTBut_8711_crp_3x3

Both sides of the “palmate” leaves and the back of the “banners” of the blue pea-like flowers are silky —good identification features. Hairs on plants help keep plants from drying out in hot, open spaces: they reflect back the sun and shade the leaf surface, cut the velocity of drying winds, and reduce abrasion by wind-swept soil particles. These hairy adaptations are found in many desert and alpine plants, too.

IpomAggr_flst_PassTr_62915_1Q2crpsm

Scarlet Gilia – Ipomopsis aggregata –is blooming strong. The 1-3’ stems wave in the wind like red wands. The red, 1”, trumpet-shaped flowers are pollinated by hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are attracted by the red color (most insects can’t see red) and hover as they insert their long beaks and even longer tongues down into the tough flower tube. While the hummingbird is lapping (not sipping) high-test nectar, it gets doused by pollen, which it distributes to the next flower if the sticky female stigma is stretched out to collect it from the hummingbird’s forehead.

SeduLanc_lvs_ChitTr_YNP_72111_crp3x3

Growing only a few inches high, Lance-leaved StonecropSedum lanceolatum – is related to hens and chicks, popular garden and house plants. The pudgy leaves are succulent, designed to hold water in reserve in dry conditions. If knocked off the plant, the leaves can grow roots and start whole new plants, which is one way stonecrops can move around the neighborhood.

SeduLanc_flCU_ChitTr_YNP_72111_2CrpMed

If pollinated, the bright yellow, star-shaped flowers of Lance-leaved Stonecrops form seeds, which is the other way plants can get out of the shadow of their parents.

TNP_KelPk_flwrs_Eriog_Tetons_6.26.16_3_Q2_5x3

ErioUmbe_fl_BTTrHd_62215_3

Sulphur BuckwheatEriogonum umbellatum var. majus – has umbels of creamy yellow flowers often with a blush of pink held above a whorl of leaves.  Below the 12″ stems, small oval leaves and creeping stems form large mats upon the ground, out of the wind.

EregCong_fl_AntFl_62415_1

In mostly dry locations, delicate clumps of Ballhead SandwortEremogone congesta – are scattered among more robust plants.  ‘Congesta’ in the botanical name refers to several small white flowers grouped tightly together in a head at the top of each wiry stem.

EregCong_lf_StrLk_6.4.16_1_crp3x3

Sandwort is in the same family as florist carnations and garden pinks, sporting opposite needle-like leaves joined together in a bit of a bump on the stem.

 Three blues: Stickseed, Bluebells, Flax

HackMicr_habfl_TetonPs_62915_1_5x3

Jessica Stickseeds grow to 3’, have several 3-6” leaves around the base and up the stem, and are found in a variety of habitats with a bit of moisture.

HackMicr_fl_SkiLktr_62815_1a_crp3x3

Jessica Stickseed flowers look similar to “For-get-me-nots” – Myosotis –  with 5 sky-blue peals in a pinwheel around a “yellow eye”.

HackMicr_frcu_PassTr_62915_1CrpSm

However, the four nutlets (fruits) have 2-barbed prickles which will stick to you—you become the vector for its seed dispersal–hence the name Stickseed.

A_MertCili_fllf_SkiLkTr_72214_1q2CrpWeb

Mountain BluebellsMertensia ciliata – are in the same family as the Stickseeds (Borage Family) and have a similar sky-blue color. The 5 petals form a  tube and flowers dangle together at the tips of 2-3’ stems. Plants grow along stream edges and in wet meadows.

A_MertCili_flCU_SkiLk_62613_1Q2SM180

Pollinators zero in on individual blue flowers, where they hang or hover while reaching into the tube for nectar. Watch the color changes of the flowers as they ripen and then fade in the course of pollination and for what insects show up!

B_LinuLewi_Fl_Antfl_62913_1asm

Lewis’ FlaxLinum lewisii – named after Merriweather Lewis the explorer, is common along roadsides and in meadows. Each saucer-shaped flower appears to reflect the sky. Many kinds of insects can land and pollinate the flowers. Each flower lasts only a day.

Particularly showy and popular: Paintbrushes, Cinquefoils, Penstemons

BTNF_TetonPs_Send9_Cast_63015_1Found in a variety of habitats, Paintbrushes – Castilleja spp. – come in different colors and shapes. They hybridize, thereby forming intermediates, making ID difficult. Paintbrush flowers are complicated: most color comes from bracts and sepals, not from petals which are often green. Bracts are modified leaves found just below each flower. Each flower has 2-4 sepals fused together. The petals form a long tube with a lip, and are often hidden inside the bracts and sepals until the flower is in full bloom. This “galea” protects the anthers and stigma until pollination.

Here are a two common paintbrushes which are relatively easy to ID.

CasLin_FlCU_SPk_73111_2aWeb

The state flower – Wyoming Indian PaintbrushCastilleja liniarifolia – stands out.  The green petals form a narrow tube beyond which extends the stigma (seen here on the right). This tube or  “galea” arches beyond the bright red sepals and flaring red bracts.  Red elongate flowers appeal to hummingbird pollinators. Stem leaves are dissected into 2-3 narrow segments. Plants can be 2-3’ tall.

A_CastMini_fl_MWrd_72014_1crpweb

Mostly mingling in meadows, Scarlet Indian PaintbrushesCastilleja miniata – are usually red but range into orange. Green and red bracts are broad and pointed.  Sepals are red, pointed, and fused, concealing the green tubes (“galea”) of petals until fully mature. This species is found at lower elevations, such as along Moose-Wilson Road, than the look-alike C. rhexifolia which is subalpine.

PoteArgu_fl_TetonPs_7.1.16_1_crp5x3

Potentilla or Cinquefoil flowers are 5-petalled with many anthers circling a cone of many pistils. White Cinquefoil – Potentilla arguta – is the most commonly seen species at this time and has mostly yellow, not white, flowers. For precise ID (using a hand lens helps!), one counts up to 25 anthers, notes the roughly marked stigmas on smooth ovaries forming a slight cone in the center, and sees several flowers held tightly together on sticky stems.  They look very similar to Sticky Cinquefoil  – P. glandulosa – which holds its flowers a bit more broadly.  Some plant experts say both should be the same species.

PoteArgu_lf_191GrosVrd_71111_1_5x3

The leaves of this cinquefoil are “pinnately” divided into 7-9 coarsely toothed leaflets.

PoteGrac_Hab_StrLk_7.4.16_1a_5x3

Graceful CinquefoilPotentilla gracilis – is common along trails, leaning out and shining up at you.

A_PensCyan_flCU_MWRd_61514_3CrpSmWeb

BeardtonguesPenstemon spp. – are fascinating puzzles. Most have opposite oval to elongate leaves going up the stem. The lower 3 petals form a landing pad and all 5 petals fuse together to form a tunnel sized for specific pollinators. The name “Penstemon” refers to the false fifth stamen- staminode – which lies like a tongue (say ahh!)  at the base of the flower and is often hairy or “bearded”. There are 4 true stamens, each with two divergent anther sacs, which curve over the bodies of pollinators—bumble bees in this instance.

B_PensCya_flCUanth_GrCkTr_62513_1smQ2

Right now at least four beardstongues stand out in patches along roadsides or on dry slopes. One representative is Wasatch PenstemonP. cyananthus – seen hiking south from Teton Pass.

PensSubg_habfl_KwmSp_6.22.16_2a_5x3

Another common species is Smooth PenstemonP. subglaber – 3’ wands of blue, often found along roadsides in gravelly soils.

Two sizable plants of meadows and aspen groves: Giant Hyssop and Little SunflowersBTNF_PalmC_AgasUrti_fl_7415_2_5x3

AgasUrti_fl_PhelpsTr_73011_2Q2_3x5

Looking closely at Nettle-leaf Giant HyssopAgastache urticifolia – you can see the “irregular” whitish flowers (with five fused petals ) with long anthers sticking out. The surrounding pointed sepals are pinkish. The egg-shaped, toothed leaves are aromatic and sit opposite one another, each pair set at 90-degree angles from the one below. The 2-4’ stems are square. These are characteristics of the Mint Family.

HeliUnif_habfl_AntFl_62415_1b

One-flower Little SunflowersHelianthella uniflora – are big bright spots on dry slopes and ridge lines. This species usually has 1-3 flowers per stem and only 3 veins on its leaves.

HeliQuin_FlCU_TetPs_72412_1Q2

The more robust Five-nerved HelianthellaHelianthella quinquenervis – appears to stare right at you! The large lower leaves have 5 distinct nerves and the 4-5′ plants usually have only one big 3-4” flower per stem.

 Particularly impressive: Monument Plant, Cow Parsnip, Elk Thistle 

FrasSpec_habfl_AntFl_6.22.16_3_Q2_5x3

This is a great year for Monument Plants or Green GentiansFrasera speciosa. Once upon a time, botanists thought these plants grew like biennials or short-lived perennials in the garden…a rosette of leaves one year, a tall stalk of flowers a year or two later. However, a long-time researcher in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado determined that these plants don’t in fact flower until they are 40 to even 60 years old!

FrasSpec_lvs_StrLk_7.4.16_1_5x3

This stage of growth–a rosette of leaves–can last dozens of years before Green Gentian or Monument Plant shoots up its flower stalk.

FrasSpec_fl_BrksLk_7704_3Q2_5x3

With a fresh rosette of leaves each year, Green Gentian continually stores energy into its deep tap root until it has sufficient fuel for its final, tremendous act. Flowers buds are triggered four years before the spring when each stalk stretches up to 4-5’, arrayed with dozens, even hundreds, of flowers.

FrasSpec_frCU_MsePd_8913_1crp_5x3

Once pollinated by myriad insects, the plants form fruits which split open to scatter thousands of seeds.  The plant then dies. Snow depth appears to be the stimulus for flower bud set for the individuals old enough to bloom. Consequently, plants bloom in cohorts, overwhelming the ability of predators to eat all the seeds.

HeraSpon_budunfurl_TrCrk_6.23.16_1a_5x3_

Flowers of Cow ParsnipHeracleum spondylium – unfurl from huge buds into dinner-plate sized umbels of tiny flowers.   How did all that stuff fit into one bud?

A_HeraSpon_flhab_MWrd_7113_2crpWeb

Cow Parsnip grows under aspens and in moist meadows where there is enough water to supply the very large leaves on 4-6’ plants. It is the largest member of the Parsley Family here in Jackson Hole.

CirsScar_habfl_NER_6.15.16_Q2_3x5

Elk ThistleCirsium scariosum – is almost as impressive as the two large plants above. The first year, it forms a flat rosette of leaves which store energy into the tap root before the winter. The second year a 1-3’-tall, thick stalk arises with elegant elongate, spine-tipped leaves. The plants are covered in fine cobwebby hairs. The large flower heads are nested in the top.  Elk Thistle is a native thistle which supports a diversity of insects and is indeed eaten by elk and should be treated with respect.

CardNut_Hab_Rdside_62914_1Q2fixWebMed

Teton County Weed and Pest is targeting this monstrous alien Musk ThistleCarduus nutans – before it overwhelms pastures, hayfields, and meadows.  Let them know if you have these scarey plants on your land.

Surprises: Cactus and Sego Lily

B_OpunFrag_habfl_AntFl_7513_2sm

Flowering in a small rocky cleft across from Kelly Warm Springs is Brittle Prickly Pear CactusOpuntia fragilis. The waxy, thickened stems contain chlorophyll to manufacture food and to hold extra water. Spines are actually modified leaves, which help shade the plant and provide defense. The spines coupled with fragile stem joints help spread the plants vegetatively—they attach to your shoes or worse your flesh. Do not touch!

B_CaloNutt_flbid_CurCan_7613_1Q2sm

Along Old Pass Road, we spied a Sego LilyCalochortus nuttallii – an elegant flower which grows from a bulb in dry locations. Sego Lily was voted by school children as the state flower of Utah in 1911. Between 1840-1851 Mormon settlers dug and ate the soft bulbs when the plague of crickets ravaged crops.

CaloEury_fl_BryFlt_6.20.16_1_crp5x3

At another location near Bryan Flats, we spied White Mariposa LilyCalochortus eurycarpus – with elegant goblet-like flowers which attract a variety of insects including bees, wasps, bee-flies and several kinds of beetles. One can imagine quite a pollinator party!

 

Please, enjoy these beautiful days looking at wildflowers up close.

Frances Clark, Wilson, WY

Julyl 4, 2016

Advertisements

One thought on “More flowers blooming in Jackson Hole early July 2016

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s