Ranger Things

After working a full field season in Dillon, I can safely say I am no longer a fairweather botanist. Something I’ve had to work at is identifying plants by vegetative characteristics alone in the early season and in their senesced, dried out, most crispy state later in the season — important skills for rangeland work.

Although not much is still blooming out in the open montane sagebrush steppe, I’ve been finding refuge from the smoke and heat in riparian vegetation assessments. Under the shade and thickets of cottonwood, quaking aspen and sometimes-encroaching conifers, I have been delighting in the relative abundance of non-vascular plants, fungi and lichen.

A small piece of a large mat of Peltigera venosa

Marchantia polymorpha, a complex thalloid liverwort. Check out the gemmae cups on this cutie!

Stropharia aeruginosa or Russula parvovirescens? Who can really say. I did not get a look under the cap, unfortunately.

Some robust eyelash cup fungi, named so for the remarkable eyelash-like hairs around the rim of the cup. Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s Scutellinia scutellata!

While I don’t have any new flower pictures to share, I finally made it over to the Bannock ghost town this weekend where I was thrilled to behold some botanically accurate-ish wallpaper from long ago.

Much of July, August and September has been very hot and smokey in Montana. All that changed quite suddenly last week: on Wednesday it was 95 degrees, on Thursday it was 55 degrees and slightly breezy, and on Friday it snowed in Dillon for nearly 24 hours straight.

This was fun to wake up to the morning of September 16th

At last! Gone is the eery red sun and thick smoke in the air. The fresh air and breathtaking snow-capped mountain views that typically surround Dillon are back.

This shift in the seasons could not be better timed. AIM monitoring is done, as is most of the outside work with rangeland techs. Now all that is left to do is mounting herbarium specimens for Seeds of Success and, of course, data entry.

Signing out for now,

Stellaginella

Dillon, Montana

One thought on “Ranger Things

  1. Don’t be fooled by the wallpaper — Montana is quite out of range for the magnificent Saguaro cacti!

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