The sun has shone brightly for many a day here now, but it seems now in mid-May many of the creatures and plants are awakening under its spell. Everywhere you look the Balsalmroots (Balsamorhiza sagittata; Balsamorhiza hookeri) brighten a hillside, or the close inspection of a sagebrush shrub yields the dark purple bloom of a Rockress (Boechera sparsiflora). Beauty is revealing itself all around us and all we need to do is look for it and we will surely find it.
SOS is a large part of our duties here so when we are in the field for drought monitoring, rare plant surveying or other duties we keep an eye out for populations of plants large enough to collect seed from in the future. As I was doing an evening hike near to my house I noticed several plants that could be collected for seed on my journey. One of the species is a particularly interesting plant with the name of Chia. The Latin name is Salvia columbariae and the inflorescence is shaped in a ball form with what look to be spikes sticking out. However, I believe these are actually the bracts. In the mint family, it has a very beautiful purplish white zygomorphic flower. I found it growing on steep N-facing slopes with very rocky soils. Funny enough I actually found this flower because I fell while walking across the slope and low and behold this beauty was in front of me! Another very nice species of flowering shrub was Mirabilis bigelovii, or Wishbone Bush. What an incredible site to see when the sun is setting and you are beholding a small shrub with showy white flowers dancing in a soft breeze! This is a species I hope to see more of in the future.
Finally some of our lizard friends have started to become more active over the last few weeks and they can be quite interesting to look at and observe. The most common ones I have seen recently are the Long-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) and the Great Basin Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus bicinctores). They are really interesting animals and I hope all of us are able to behold creatures unique to the areas we are working in!
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir
Carson City District BLM