Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Plants of the Mountains

Tonight I thought I would share three of my plant observations from the top of Lookout Mountain, Jefferson County, Colorado, approximately 7500 feet above sea level.

The first is a succulent looking thing that I am still wondering about. This plant had no flowers, and the leaves, or what I think are leaves, appear to be spirally arranged around the stem. I thought this looked like something that you find in the cacti section at the home depot. It might even be non-native. Can anyone help me out with this one? I have more pictures.


Next we have the cone of the Douglass fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Pine cones are kinda like the flower of the flowering plants, except they don't provide as much protection for the ovule, which will eventually become the new pine tree. Douglass fir cones are distinct because they have that little 3-pronged bract sticking out between the scales. Notice the tiny male cones, which only produce pollen, at the top right of the photo.

Finally, we have something that really caught my eye last Thursday when I took this photo. A clump of what looked liked spring beauty was shooting up near a Ponderosa pine, the dominant species of this area. It turned out to be Claytonia lanceolata, or lance-leaved spring beauty. This was the only flowering plant we saw on this 32 degree day on top of the mountain. You may see the more familiar virgina spring beauty here in Ohio. Look for it in any wooded area throughout the state.
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