River trips and Cirsium snips!


This summer has been flying by- it’s hard to believe that my internship is already more than half over!

The majority of my internship has been spent collecting native seeds for the Seeds of Success program. At the beginning of the summer I was worried that this would become monotonous, but it still hasn’t! To date, we have completed 21 collections. Our most recent was Cirsium barnebyi, one of the seemingly few thistles which are actually native to the Uintah Basin region. Like many other thistles, this one is pretty prickly, so it required a certain amount of dexterity whilst removing the seeds from the flower heads. In addition to the prickles, we had to fight off some bumblebees trying to pollinate the late-blooming Cirsium flowers, as well as hundreds of worker ants carrying off the seeds, plus some other unknown bug that way laying eggs in the newly opened seed heads! Although Cirsium barnebyi was a pain to collect, it is nice to know that we are collecting a species that seems to serve such an important ecological function for insects.

IMG_0483 Cirsium barnebyi, a Uintah Basin endemic species

Later this week we took a break from seed collection and embarked on our first river trip! Our mission was to cut and spray teasel, along with some other invasives including Canada thistle, bull thistle, and white top. The weather was perfect, there were no bugs, and we spent a relaxing two days floating down the river.

IMGP1483Perks of the job.

In addition to killing weeds, we also had our eye out for a threatened orchid, Spiranthes diluvialis (Ute ladies tresses). This plant is very tricky to survey for, since it pretty much blends in with every other riparian grass species, unless you happen to catch it in bloom. Therefore, the window to conduct Spiranthes surveys lasts only about a month. However, this trip we were in luck, and we found over 70 plants on one riverbank!

IMGP0117 The elusive Spiranthes diluvialis in bloom!

All in all, it was a great week! I can’t wait to see what the next month and a half here in Utah will bring. 🙂

Jinny Alexander
BLM Vernal, Utah

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.