Photo Of The Week – June 20, 2014

I am writing this from a cabin in the rocky mountains of Colorado.  (Can you call it a cabin if it’s got wireless internet and satellite TV?  Probably not…)  Anyway, we’re taking a family vacation this week, so I’ve been seeing some landscapes, plants, and animals I’m not used to.

However, I got a pleasant surprise yesterday when we reached the end of a long hiking trail in the Mount Evans Wilderness.  The terminus of the trail was a high, wide open meadow (elevation 11,500 feet) with scattered bristlecone pines and abundant blooming wildflowers.  It felt much more like home than the steep wooded slopes we climbed to reach it.  Many of the wildflowers looked like they must be related to plants I know from home, but I didn’t know what many of them were – with one exception.

Pasqueflower (Pulsatella patens) at 11,500 feet in the Mount Evans Wilderness south of Idaho Springs, Colorado.

Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) at 11,500 feet in the Mount Evans Wilderness south of Idaho Springs, Colorado.

I sure didn’t expect to see pasque flower at 11,500 feet elevation!  Can you believe a species found in the prairies of Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska also thrives way up in the alpine meadows of Colorado?  That’s quite a range!

Pasqueflower seedheads in the same meadow.

Pasqueflower seedheads in the same meadow.

I’ll probably post some more photos from our trip next week.  For now, you can always go look at last year’s batch

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
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11 Responses to Photo Of The Week – June 20, 2014

  1. Paul says:

    Lucky you Chris, what a nice place to go for vacation. Pulsatillas are beautiful plants and they are circumpolar, unfazed by elevation differences or national boundaries.

  2. Gisela Fisher says:

    Thank you, Chris, for doing this blog. A friend told me about it and I’ve been following you for a while now. It is sooo interesting and so enjoyable. Thank you so very much.

  3. elfinelvin says:

    Amazing! I used to have the pasqueflower in my garden (northern Illinois). Lovely plant.

  4. savannagal says:

    Looks like a wonderful place to rent a cabin. I took have pasque flower in my garen in northern Illinois. I have to put cages around them or the rabbits, or maybe it’s the deer, eat them down to the ground. I have the worst time with critters. I have chicken wire cages all over my property.

  5. anastaciast says:

    I have a book here, somewhere, that is a wildflower book of South Dakota that has some higher elevation flowers in it as well as a mountain one…somewhere. Maybe I can find these books and help with i.d. Wish you would bring home some cold air!

  6. Mike Stephens says:

    The Pasque flower is an amazing flower. We have it in the lowlands to the tundra in Alaska too!

  7. James McGee says:

    You should collect a few seeds to bring home and grow them into plants for your garden. If you do, then every time you walk out into your garden you will feel like you’re back on vacation.

  8. Chris: great to get away from the prairie of home even if briefly. there are several alpine plants that are circumpolar that appear in our prairie province. prairie smoke is one, kinnickinic is another. that word translated from Sanscrit means little bells, nice description of its flowers; also in Ojibwe means “what is mixed,” and refers to plant materials that Indians used for tobacco/ceremonial …happy Solstice; days are now getting shorter

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