Viola and Allium and Astragalus…oh my!

Hi all! I’m Sydney, a Seeds of Success (SOS) intern based out of Rawlins, WY. As an SOS intern, my goal is to collect seeds from native plants for use in reclamation projects, research, and conservation storage. I’ve been here just over two weeks, and so far much of my time has been spent learning about the SOS program and completing BLM trainings. Unfortunately, the weather in town has been rather whacky, limiting our ability to venture out into the field office.

To no surprise, another rain episode trails through SC Wyoming.

However…on Thursday of my second week, the clouds began to part, the sun began to shine, and the dirt roads were finally dry enough for my partner and I to begin site monitoring. Lomatium foeniculaceum (biscuitroot), Allium textile (textile onion), and Astragalus spatulatus (tufted milkvetch) are all early-season natives that we’ve been keeping our eyes peeled for.

Lomatium foeniculaceum, a perennial forb in the carrot family (Apiaceae).

The two days following the grand reappearance of the sun were spent exploring the southern extent of our field office, including the Wild Horse Basin and Cow Butte areas. To our surprise, many of our coveted species were found running rampant throughout our predicted monitoring sites. We took voucher specimens, recorded GPS point locations, and began familiarizing ourselves with the local flora. During my time as an undergraduate at Iowa State University, I was primarily trained in botanical systematics, evolution, and field identification, so it’s been incredible to walk throughout the landscape and be able to identify plants to family or genus, all while being fascinated by my new environment.

Balsamorhiza sagittata, or arrowleaf balsamroot, is a new species for me — what a gorgeous bouquet!

Rawlins is centrally located, and I’ve already had the opportunity to visit Salt Lake City, Denver, and Fort Collins (including Wyoming, three new states for me!) with new pals in such a short amount of time. I’m excited to spend more time in the field learning about this mesmerizing sagebrush ecosystem during the week and exploring the beautiful National Parks and cities that surround me on the weekends!

Until next time,

Sydney – BLM – RFO