With a sigh of relief, Spring has arrived in Carson City. Along with the warmer and longer days (but still the occasional dusting of snow), arrive leaves, flowers, and seasonal allergies. And thus begin the Seeds of Success (SOS) collections, or at least the collection and pressing of flowering plants which will later be used for SOS identification confirmation. You see, the plants are typically at their most identifiable stage when flowering, so first we must scout the plant populations and collect specimens before the time comes to collect thousands, dare I say millions, of seeds.
As we step lightly through the desert, carrying our pick-hammers and plant presses, we look for flowering native plants with a population hardy enough to withstand a collection (>50 individuals). When sufficient in number, we dig up a plant, sandwich it between newspaper and cardboard, and then tighten the stack of plant sandwiches using straps and burly intern muscles.
Here, thoroughly flattened and surrounded by this dry, dry climate, the plants desiccate and become well preserved, easily storable reference sheets. This process is always (ALWAYS) accompanied by plenty of detailed notes and several photographs. Once compiled, we turn all of these into herbarium specimens for our BLM office, UNR and the Smithsonian.
While out collecting specimens for SOS, we have also been surveying for the threatened species Ivesia webberi (Webber’s Ivesia or wire mousetail) in various allotments in the area. Though it’s not in bloom in the following photo, around this time it displays clusters of yellow flowers that will brighten your day.
Spring cheers from Carson City.