9 Tips for Wildflower Hunting
Now that it’s spring, perhaps you are itching to get out in nature and see flowers in all their glory, including the fleeting beauty of wildflowers.
What makes a flower a wildflower? American Meadows explains:
Those that grow in the wild or on their own, without cultivation, are called wildflowers. Wildflowers indigenous to the continent are called “natives.” Others, which may be quite common, but not indigenous, have been introduced from some other part of the world and are referred to as “naturalized.” Both types share one common distinction: They are equipped to grow on their own in nature.
Wildflowers in a meadow. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
1. Explore wild places near you. See our recommendations on America's most spectacular wilderness areas for wildflowers. The U.S. Forest Service also has great recommendations and National Wildlife Refuges can be awesome places where plant life flourishes.
2. Choose trails in valleys or on sunny, south facing slopes. It is important to stay on the trail too, so flowers can continue to flourish off-trail. Follow our "leave-no-trace tips."
3. Confirm the best times of year to visit. Plants generally begin to bloom as early as March or April in more southern locations, while those in the north may not bud until May or June. A good rule of thumb is to visit before tree foliage begins to completely shade the ground. Elevation makes a big difference too, with alpine meadows often having brief blooming from late July to early August. Deserts are unpredictable, but March or April are recommended. To be sure, you can call ahead to your local national forest, national park or cooperative extension office or look for reports online. The U.S. Forest Service's interactive wildflower map is a fantastic resource for finding bloom time and wildflower events near you. Here are more resources for wildflower viewing by region: Rocky Mountain region; Pacific Northwest; Intermountain region; Southwestern region; California/Pacific Southwest; Eastern region; Southern region.
4. Venture out immediately after rain. This is especially important if you are in a usually-dry area. Drought can decrease the number and diversity of wildflowers, so you may need to scour if that is the case.
5. Where there are flowers, there are insects. Wear repellant or long-sleeves and pants. You may also want to wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat.
6. Become familiar with the most conspicuous, common blooms. The Southwest has bright yellow Mexican poppies and red Indian paintbrushes. In the Pacific Northwest, monkeyflower and mountain lupine are often-sighted.
7. Bring a field guide and other flower-finding gear. In addition to your camera, plan to carry a photo-filled field guide or app to learn about what you find. Look for one that is appropriate for your state or region (Washington, Northeastern U.S, Southern Appalachia, etc.) or the ecological area of interest (desert areas, for example). Avid wildflower seekers will also pack a magnifying glass for closer inspection of petals, leaves and other tiny flower parts.
9. Grow a "surprise garden" from the seeds you pick up on your hiking boots. This trick works if you end up walking through mud on your adventure. The forest service offers instructions for preserving flowers and making perfumes as well—but only for flowers you pick at home.
Wildflowers on the slopes of Mt. Baker, Washington. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
In addition to tips on hunting for wildflowers, the Wilderness Society offers a list of 12 wilderness areas for enjoying wildflowers:
1. Mt. Thielsen Wilderness, Oregon
2. Round Island Wilderness, Michigan
3. Wambaw Swamp Wilderness, South Carolina
4. Mt. Adams Wilderness, Washington
5. Charles C. Deam Wilderness, Indiana
6. Spirit Mountain Wilderness, Nevada
7. Siskiyou Wilderness, California
8. Castle Crags Wilderness, California
9. Pajarita Wilderness, Arizona
10. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
11. Shenandoah Wilderness, Virginia
12. Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Wilderness, New Jersey
Any areas you would recommend?
Interested in wildflower gardening? American Meadows offers wildflower planting guides and how-to info. Wildflowers of the U.S. includes a reference list for wildflower identification in all states and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin has a searchable native plant database, which includes 7,927 plants.
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They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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