The coolness of spring has given way to the heat of summer and the suite of plants in bloom has switched with the seasons.
Anyone who has driven on a highway in the last few weeks will have noticed the fields of yellow visible along the road. We are having a mast year for sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis), an invasive species introduced from Eurasia. Along with sweet clover, I have seen quite a bit of black medic (Medicago lupulina) in disturbed areas, such as roadsides.
In the meadows created by the 2000 Jasper Fire on the Hell Canyon Ranger District, I have seen other yellow flowers such as slender wildparsely (Musineon tenuifolium), blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), yellow salsify (Tragopogon dubius), and meadow zizia (Zizia aptera).
Purple or Pink Flowers
There are several species showing off purple or pink flowers right now as well. The most common ones spotted in open meadows include tufted milkvetch (Astragalus spatulatus), wavyleaf thistle (Cirsium undulatum), blacksamson echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Lewis’s flax (Linum lewisii), silvery lupine (Lupinus argenteus var. argenteus), alyssumleaf phlox (Phlox alyssifolia), prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), and smooth penstemon (Penstemon glaber). In more shaded or wooded areas common purple or pink flowers on display include Richard’s geranium (Geranium richardsonii) and twinflower (Linnaea borealis).
Other species with purple or pink flowers that can be found in a variety of habitats include rosy pussytoes (Antennaria rosea), spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium), harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), rock clematis (Clematis columbiana var. tenuiloba), wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), prairie rose (Rosa arkansana), and red clover (Trifolium pratense).
Red or Orange Flowers
I have also seen both blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata), and wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum) growing along several roadsides.
The meadows and forested areas also contain several white flowers including common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), small-leaf pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia), Gunnison's mariposa lily (Calochortus gunnisonii), northern bedstraw (Galium boreale), showy frasera (Frasera speciosa), field locoweed (Oxytropis campestris), white clover (Trifolium repens), and mountain deathcamas (Zigadenus elegans).
Finally, the paper birch (Betula papyrifera) and Bebb willow (Salix bebbiana) are also showing off some non-descript catkins.
Until next time, happy flower watching!
Chelsea Monks, Forest Botanist
July 9, 2014
Contact Chelsea Monks or Cheryl Mayer at (605) 673-9200 for more information.