Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Caraway day!

Carum carvi

[CAVEAT: Do click on the pix: for some reason, Blogspot is making the pictures blurry unless you click. Click twice and you can zoom in on various parts of the pictures. I must be uploading too large of files--sorry!]

Treading gently to avoid the obvious pun, I begin (and end) this shortish blog with shots from the Wet Mountain Valley, one of Colorado's many magical and less visited corners: that's the backbone of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance, that have only one paved pass (La Veta) that traverses them at their only "low" point at 9,426' (2,873 m). Most of the spine of the Sangres stays above 12,000' for a hundred miles and more--with only a few hideous four wheel drive roads approaching the divide (but not the Continental Divide--which swerves far to the West on to the La Garitas and San Juans.) Colorado is a very cool place.
Cirsium scariosum ssp coloradoensis
On the way TO the Wet Mountains, north of Walsenburg we stopped at one foothills locale that was full of interesting flowers. This thistle may strike terror in the hearts of some gardeners, but it's not an exotic or weedy one by any means--in fact, it's possibly tricky to grow like many of our native thistles: this is one of relatively few plants with my native state's epithet--so I can't help but be rather fond of it.
A closer view of the "Scary" thistle. "Scarious" actually means "dry and membraceous" in Latin (usually referring to bract margins or leaves)--one of those words that only botanists know or bandy. I suppose I'd rather by scary than scarious.

Astragalus shortianus
This is one of our commoner Great Plains milk vetches: there are nearly a thousand taxa in this genus in the West--so one prides oneself on recognizing any of them!

Hyjmenopappus filifolius
A relatively small but widespread genus of composites--only one of which is very showy (H. newberryi which has large white petaloid ray flowers--which in fact grows hereabouts but we didn't stumble on it this trip).

Leptodactylon pungens
There are showier prickly phlox--but I even like this squinny species. The petals spread open at night.

Erigeron caespitosus
A wonderful and widespread fleabane....

Oxytropis lambertii
One of our commonest and showiest locoweeds was scattered hereabout...

Penstemon auriberbis
And then we saw our first lavender penstemon--this one an endemic of the region (largely restricted to the Arkansas river drainage of Colorado). The "golden beard" it's named for is a delightful feature. It has not proved to be one of the longer lived penstemons even in troughs. It's close relative in New Mexico nearby (P. jamesii) with wider leaves and larger flowers is likewise ephemeral for us...

Soon we came across a whole meadow filled with the lovely lavender penstemon...

Thelesperma filifolium
One of my favorite composites was blooming nearby--this threadleaf cousin to Coreopsis blooms on and off all growing season--a flush of bloom soon after a rain.

We drove further north, and took a short detour as we entered the Wet Mountain valley to where Mike Bone and Larry Vickerman had seen some yellow ladyslippers along an irrigation ditch in the scene depicted in the very first shot--those meadows dominated with Caraway (Carum carvi)...

Maianthemum (Smilacina) stellatum
Finally we climb higher onto the Wet Mountain valley--the vast hayfields stretching around us (many white with Caraway in full bloom by the countless acre). Along one irrigation ditch the starry false solomon's seal was thick (It'll take a while to get used to its new Latin name). This is a common liliaceous woodlanders all over the country, I know, and spreads in the garden like a weed--but I love it anyway!

And finally, the ladyslipper--which I showed earlier this year in a posting I did on ladyslippers in the wild: but  I didn't show this picture at that time (you see, I always hold something back for the winter months! Clever old chap, don't you agree?)

1 comment:

  1. I like the thistle. You pulled some new species out of your hat for everyone's viewing pleasure. The Maianthemum stellatum and Cyperpedium pubescens reminds me of natural areas we have in Illinois.



Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive