Sunday, August 2, 2015

Visiting Wyoming near Driggs, Idaho - Gorgeous Hiking

mountain and forest

On the trip to the Botanical Society of America meetings in Boise, Idaho in 2014, we looped back to Colorado via Driggs, Idaho. Staying over night in Driggs, we took the nearest easy hike available and it was gorgeous. Just east of Driggs we drove Ski Hill Road to the Teton Canyon Trailhead, just across border in Wyoming. 

the trail ahead

The trail was broad and well-walked, between towering pines. 

ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgaris
daisy from Europe
Initially some of the flowers were weedy things like the daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare, the ox-eye daisy, aster family, Asteraceae). From Europe, daisies are all over North America now. They are pretty.

But natives far out-numbered weedy exotics.  Here's an an Erigeron, called daisies or fleabanes. Some are from Europe but there are many natiave species. I don't know have the right references (and my photographs don't show all the parts I need) to figure out which one this is, but I think it is Erigeron formossisimus, the comely daisy (formosissima means "prettiest" in Latin). However I can't rule out Eriogeron speciosus, the showy daisy, also native and also common in western Wyoming. But to follow a theme from last week's blog, there are 102 species of Erigeron listed for North America (USDA link), 25 of which are in both Idaho and Wyoming. Getting native plants to species isn't easy for the visitor because there are so many native species. 

daisy, Erigeron
native daisy, Erigeron formossisimus or maybe Erigeron speciosus
This is a wild geranium, likely Richardson's geranium, Geranium richardsonii (geranium family, Geraniaceae), or a hybrid of G. richardsonii and G. viscossisimum, the sticky geranium) because Richardson's geranium is typically white and the sticky geranium intensely red-purple. Geraniums with developing fruit (seed pods) are easily recognized because the fruit is a long thin "crane's bill" (link to an example).

wild geranium
wild geranium,  probably Geranium richardsonii
The meadows had handsome larkspurs (Delphinium sp., perhaps D. occidentale, the tall larkspur) like this one. The name, Delphinium is apparently from the Latin delphinus, dolphin, because the  buds reminded Europeans of dolphins. Larkspur is a whimsical common name from Europe, where the species there were also called lark's heel, lark's toe and lark's claw. 


But really dramatic and spectacular were the huge stands of Indian paintbrush, Castilleja sp., in full bloom. It was probably Castilleja linearifolia, the state flower of Wyoming, often called the Wyoming paintbrush. Castilleja is a hemi-parasite. It has green leaves and makes some of its own food, but also sticks a root into neighboring plants, especially sagebrushes (Artemisia spp.) to suck off some of theirs.

Indian paintbrush, Castilleja

The trail rambled past enticing meadows


under pines

forest view

and along a sparkling stream.

stream view

Occassionally the forest opened to show striking views.

willows and pines

I'm not a very energetic walker right now, although I enjoy myself immensely, so these vistas are easily reached, and, I think, found all along the mountains of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming.

Comments and corrections welcome.

References Consulted Included, but errors are mine:
Grieve, M. A Modern Herbal. Dover Publications, New York. 1932.
Flora of North America.
Plants at
Schneider, A. and W. Tilt. Colorado Rocky Mountain Wildflowers app. 2012

Kathy Keeler

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