Big views and rare plants in Zion


Big views of Zion Canyon from Observation Point Lookout

It’s been a gradifying couple of months interning in Zion. When I arrived the weather was pleasant but soon turned hot.  I’m talking over a month of above 110 degrees in the Canyon.  No biggy here in Zion, I escaped the heat by taking several dips a day in the Virgin River.  My field time collecting new specimens to be placed in the herbarium moved from the canyon bottom to the higher elevation mixed conifer forests atop the canyon walls.  Here I found an abundance of moisture loving species.  My days have been filled with searching for some of the parks most rare and endemic species for collection.  Alas, I found them…Astragalas concordus, Heterotheca jonesii, and Erigeron religosus. Even on my hiking adventures outside of work I stumbled upon them, one in particular, Cymopterus minimus (Cedar Breaks biscuitroot), an endemic only to Garfield, Iron, and Kane counties in Utah. 

Cymopterus minimus a rare and endemic species found in Ashdown Gorge Wilderness on the "Twisted Forest Trail"

I found it while hiking in a remnant Bristlecone pine forest in Ashdown George Wilderness.  This species has only been found to occur on Claron limestone soils from 8,000 to 10,400 ft elevation in July-August.  Needless to say, during my time here in Zion I have looked at more rare species then I have in my whole career thus far. 

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