Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rocky Mountain High-Boreas Pass

Helianthella quinquenervis and Zigadenus elegans

Calochortus gunisonii with blue butterfy

Helianthella quinquenervis backed by Veratrum tenuipetalum

Delphinium barbeyi

Geranium richardsonii

Cirsium scariosum ssp coloradoense

Linium perenne and Potentilla sp

Pyrrocoma crocea

Calochortus gunisonii

Boreas Pass must be one of those exquisite places where heaven and earth meet.  I rarely have been in such a stunning field of flowers, at least in this country.  Marcia and Randy brought me here, and it was another major highlight of my trip--so many flowers filled this subalpine meadow.  The vegetation was very different from the alpine vegetation on Horseshoe, this was basically a vast field of flowers with forest elements not far away.  Calochortus gunisonii was in spendid abundance, protected from the native rodents by growing in thick grass thatch. which makes it harder for them to get at the bulbs.  It was the major reason for our visit, but there were so many other floral treasures to see too. Helianthella quinquenervis is a nodding sunflower cousin that also is abundant in this area, the nodding flowers probably shelter its pollen from rainstorms, or else must be some strange adaptation to enhance pollination in some way. Pyrrocoma crocea was another (of many) yellow daisy species,  but it bore masses of upfacing flowers from a rosettes of straplike foliage. The toxic Zigadenus elegans is abundant here too, with white spikes of small flowers poking up between more showy flowered plants.  Delphinium barbeyi is a fairly robust plant that forms noticible clumps here and there.  Its blue flowers can be mistaken for Aconitum columbianum from a distance, the latter occurs here too.  Geranium richardsonii has finely veined white flowers and is frequently found as single plants interspersed among the mosaic of other flowers and grasses. Cirsium scopularium ssp coloradoense appears here and there with white flowers on a plant that probably is a biennial or short lived perennial.  Bright blue flax flowers(Linium perenne) stud wispy branches that reach not far above the numerous anthills among the grasses--ants must be a major ecological factor in this area, there were so many of them. A particularly majestic stand of Veratrum tenuipetalum grew in a low damp area, when massed together they were quite striking.  


Acantholimon said...

You make me homesick for summer: the mariposas up there are marvellous! I once found a deep purple gunnisonii on that pass. Looks like some of your's are lilac.


geranios said...

Some of the gunnisoniis were indeed lilac, but no deep purple. It was an amazing place, I still remember the constant hum of the all the pollinating flies and bees making the most of the floral profusion.