Sunday, July 3, 2016

Visiting Some Western Relatives

As vast as this country is, it is amazing to discover that plants related to Georgia plants can be found all over the place. I know they’ve had thousands of years to move around - sometimes only inches at a time - but still I am amazed. I recently took a trip out west and here are some of the beautiful relatives that I found. I have not identified all to species but the genus name is given.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Ninebark (Physocarpus)

Cherry (Prunus)

Elderberry (Sambucus)

My trip took me to Montana and Wyoming while visiting 3 national parks: Glacier National Park in Montana and two Wyoming parks: Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The parks were beautiful and spacious with an abundance of mid-June wildflowers. The snow had receded from the roads and could mostly be found in patches at high-elevation. Only a few of the earliest flowers had already finished but there was plenty to see.

Pussytoes (Antennaria rosea)
Columbine (Aquilegia)

Clintonia uniflora


I saw only a few non-native flowers, far fewer than I see on the roadsides here. The most common was perhaps the dandelion. It could be found in abundance in some roadsides but was absent from others. In some areas, it had clearly been browsed by animals (deer, bison, elk?) but not always. Thistle, salsify (Tragopogon) and yellow sweet clover (Melilotus) were around as well, but it was great fun to see mostly lupines lining the roads in eleven different shades of blue! Now that's a roadside plant I could get used to.

Lupine (Lupinus)

Bluebells (Mertensia)

Beardtongue (Penstemon)

Phacelia sericea

Shooting star (Dodecatheon)

These are no means all the relatives that I saw. Not included here are blueberry (huckleberry), dogwood, hyssop, blackberry, juniper, ceanothus,buckwheat, baneberry, ladies tresses, Indian blanket, beargrass (what we call turkeybeard), geum and so many more! Plants, without feet, have moved around quite a lot in the thousands of years that they’ve been here.

Fragrant Rosa

Paintbrush in Glacier (Castilleja )

Paintbrush in Yellowstone (Castilleja )


  1. What great photos of these beautiful flowers! My sister lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and she said to come there in the summer just for the wildflowers!

  2. When I lived in Colorado I remember reading that summer clematis is considered a weed and is smothering out native plants.