Hidden gems

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On a recent walk through sagebrush scrub and grassland we were treated to numerous hidden gems along the way. Lupines flowering amongst the grasses still mainly brown after a winters sleep.

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Shooting stars in clusters were dispersed along the way. Never a thick carpet, just a sprinkling, every now and then.

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Bluebells dangled in little clumps…

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and Penstemon light the way.

Hidden gems indeed.

Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: Cleome serrulata

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Rocky Mountain Bee Plant: Cleome serrulata was a wonderful late blooming wildflower near us this year. It drew numerous species of bees, and butterflies, from near and far and always had visitors when in bloom providing pollinators with a generous sip of nectar.

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Growing up to 4 ft tall Bee Plant stands out in the fields of tall fall grasses.A beautiful and very sculptural wildflower Bee Plant is fun to photograph as well.

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According to the USDA “Cleome serrulata is an important cultural plant for many Southwestern Indian tribes. The young, tender shoots and leaves are good sources of vitamin A and calcium. In the past they were used as potherbs or medicinally as teas for fevers and other ailments. The seeds were ground and used to make gruel or bread. The Navajo still use the plant as a source of yellow-green dye for their beautiful wool rugs and blankets. Many pueblo tribes use a concentrated form of dye, made from boiling the plant into a thick black resin, to paint designs on pottery or for decorating their baskets.”

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On this particular afternoon the little green sweat bees were enjoying the plant to no end.

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Every flower seems to have a visitor.

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And one last look as even the bee fly mimics got in on the action.

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Pipsissewa:Chimaphila umbellata

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Pipisissewa is a beautiful and distinct wildflower found on the forest floor not to mention a fun name to say. With its long stem and single umbrella shaped flower it is  hard to miss while hiking through the woods and native to much of cool temperate forest across the northern hemisphere. A member of the wintergreen family Pipsissewa has green leaves year-round, it receives a significant portion of its nutrition from fungi in the soil.

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Pipsissewa, as much fun to observe as it is to say and wonderful companion on any forested walk.