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0YARROW Achillea millefolium This flower, a perennial herb, can easily be distinguished by its flat top, small white flowers and aromatic fernlike leaves. HABITAT/RANGE: Yarrow is found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and can flourish and prosper in a variety of environments and habitats, including alleys, sagebrush plains, and alpine tundra. Blooms from April to September. FACTS/ USES: The generic name, Achillea, is in honor of Achilles, the greatest warrior among the Greeks at Troy and the slayer of Hector. He is credited with first using yarrow as a poultice to cure the wounds of soldiers injured in battle. The odor of its crushed leaves is one of the most outstanding characteristics of yarrow. The leaves when dried and crushed have a strong, aromatic minty smell and are frequently used as a flavoring for tea.

 

0COMMON BURDOCK Arctium minus This biennial herb produces a rosette of large, wavy, thick, petioled, cordate leaves its first year. During the second year, a robust, highly branched, hairy stalk ascends two to six feet from a large, fleshy taproot. The inflorescence is a raceme with clusters of flower heads that are composed of small red-violet disk flowers surrounded by numerous hooked bracts, which later mature to a round bur. This species is very similar to common cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium), except it is an annual, a native, the leaves are rough and sharp, not as velvety and smooth, and the burs are longer and not as round. HABITAT/RANGE: As a European introduction, it has spread throughout North America and is found on moist pastures, roadsides and ditch banks. It grows from sea level to low mountain elevations. Flowers July to September. FACTS/ USES: The specific name means smaller.

 

0HEARTLEAF ARNICA Arnica cordifolia A sunflower-like plant comprised of 10-15 yellow ray and numerous tiny disk flowers in a head often more than two inches wide. The plants have characteristic heart-shaped, toothed, and opposite leaves on a stem eight to 20 inches high. HABITAT/RANGE: A common wildflower growing in patches in moist shaded woods and ascending to timberline, there are 14 species of arnica throughout the West. Heartleaf amica blooms from May to late July. FACTS/USES: The Latin name, cordifolia, is derived from cordis- of the heart, and folia -leaves. It is descriptive of the leaf shape and not, as once believed, a medicine for the heart. It is, however, an important medicinal plant. Drugs are prepared from plant extracts and administered to produce a rise in body temperature or cause a mild fever.

 

0BIG SAGEBRUSH Artemisia tridentata Big sagebrush is the most familiar and widespread shrub in the West. This plant is distinguished easily by its large, straplike, silver-green, three-toothed leaves. It can attain a height of one to seven feet, with the tops projecting spikelike, yellowish, flowering heads. The flowers are small, numerous and inconspicuous. HABITAT/RANGE: It grows on a variety of soils but is intolerant of alkali and inhabits dry plains and hills to timberline. It is distributed widely from British Columbia to North Dakota, New Mexico and California. Flowers late summer and early fall. FACTS/USES: The specific name means three-toothed. This species is not the cooking herb, which is common garden sage (Salvia officinalis), a member of the mint family. Wildlife relish this shrub, but if it is consumed by livestock, the volatile oils can kill digesting microorganisms within their rumen.

 

0ALPINE ASTER Aster alpigenus Alpine aster is a small, graceful flower arising from a simple or slightly branched taproot, and the previous year's vegetation often can be found around its base. Slender, entire margined leaves and several unbranched stems supporting solitary flowering heads arise from this base. The flower heads are comprised of violet or lavender ray flowers with yellow disk flowers in the center. HABITAT/RANGE: Inhabits open, moist meadows at subalpine and alpine habitats and often is found among short, cropped grasses and sedges. Limited in distribution to the central region of the Rocky Mountains, from eastern Oregon to Montana and Wyoming. FACTS/USES: The genus name, Aster, is derived from the Greek word for star. The species name means alpine.

 

0SHOWY ASTER Aster conspicuus Showy aster is an erect, leafy, perennial herb ascending from creeping rootstocks and growing up to three feet tall. The stem leaves somewhat clasp the stem and are large and elliptic, with sharply toothed margins. Leaves at the middle of the stem usually are the largest. The flower heads are comprised of 12 to 35 violet or purple ray flowers and yellow disk flowers. The flower heads are individually borne on long stalks and form a flat-topped inflorescence. HABITAT/RANGE: It inhabits moist, rich soils of open woods and often is associated with aspen, conifer stands and old burn areas. It is distributed from the Yukon Territory, British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south to South Dakota, Wyoming and Oregon. Flowers from mid-July to early fall. FACTS/USES: The specific name means conspicuous or showy.

 

0THICKSTEM ASTER Aster integrifolius Thickstem aster is a leafy, perennial forb ascending eight to 20 inches from a stout rootstock. The reddish stems are somewhat glabrous at the base and glandular-hairy at the top into the inflorescence. Basal leaves are large, narrow, lance-shaped, entire, wavy and taper to a winged stalk, while the upper leaves are oblong, stalkless and somewhat clasp the stem. The flower heads clustered at the end of the stem have a ragged appearance. Each flower head has 10 to 27 deep bluish-purple ray flowers with a small center of yellow disk flowers. HABITAT/RANGE: This species prefers dry meadows, hillsides and open woods of mid-elevations and often is associated with goldenrod and lupine. It is well-distributed from Washington to Montana, south to Colorado and California. Flowers mid-July through fall. FACTS/USES: The specific name means entire-leaved.

 

0ARROWLEAF BALSAMROOT Balsamorhiza sagittata Arrowleaf balsamroot is a robust, perennial herb that attains a height of eight to 36 inches. It is recognized easily by its large, showy, yellow flower heads and silvery-green, arrow-shaped leaves. HABITAT/RANGE: It prefers well-drained soils, southern exposures and open ridges of foothills to mid-mountain elevations. This species is well-distributed from British Columbia to Saskatchewan, south to Colorado and central California, but east of the Cascade Mountains. Blooms May to early July. FACTS/USES: The specific name means arrow-like, referring to the leaf shape. The common and generic name is derived from its thick, resinous (balsam) roots (rhiza). The roasted seeds can be ground into a flour, called pinole. The Nez Perce Indians were known to roast and grind the seeds, which they then formed into little balls by adding grease.

 

0NODDING BEGGARS-TICK Bidens cemua Nodding beggars-tick has bright yellow flower heads one to two inches in diameter with as many as 12 ray flowers. There are two distinct rows of green involucral bracts. One main distinguishing characteristic is the leaves, which are opposite, lanceolate, sharply toothed and may clasp or join around the stem. Another characteristic is the seeds, which are small and flattened with two projecting spines covered with backward-pointing barbs. HABITAT/RANGE: This species often is found along the edges of ponds or other wet, boggy soils of low to mid-mountain elevations. It is distributed widely throughout North America from British Columbia to New Brunswick, south to North Carolina, Missouri, New Mexico and California. Flowers July to September. FACTS/USES: The Latin generic name means two teeth and refers to the spines. The specific name means drooping or nodding.

 

0MUSK THISTLE Carduus nutans This large, branching biennial reaches a height of one to nine feet. The leaves are deeply lobed and jagged, with sharp spines. The leaf stems are winged (decurrent) and generally run down the stalk. The large, two- to three-inch-wide, deep lavender, rayless heads nod on the stem. The involucral bracts are conspicuous, sharp and stiff, with the lower ones bent back. HABITAT/RANGE: Introduced from Eurasia, it is found sparingly throughout the United States and into Canada. It establishes easily on disturbed sites, especially along roads. A summer and fall bloomer. FACTS/USES: The generic name, Carduus, is the Latin word for thistle. The specific name, nutans, means nodding, and refers to the nodding or drooping heads. The large and colorful heads are attractants for pollinating insects and small animals.

 

0SPOTTED KNAPWEED Centaurea maculosa Knapweed is a biennial herb or short-lived perennial that produces a rosette of long, deeply pinnate leaves. In its second year, the taproot sends up a branching leafy stem one to three feet tall. The numerous pinkish or purple flower heads are arranged at the ends of terminal and branching stems. The ray flowers are finely and narrowly segmented, and the involucral bracts have dark, finely fringed tips. HABITAT/ RANGE: This plant prefers dry, gravelly or sandy soils of disturbed sites, especially along roadsides and overgrazed pastures. Introduced and naturalized from Europe, it has established throughout western North America. Flowers through the summer into fall. FACTS/USES: The specific name means spotted. Knapweed is an aggressive, competitive plant, establishing quickly on disturbed sites and producing a chemical to inhibit surrounding plants.

 

0DUSTY MAIDEN Chaenactis alpina Dusty maiden is a perennial, taprooted herb. The white or pinkish flower heads lack ray flowers; instead, they are comprised of showy, tubular disk flowers, giving the appearance of ray flowers. The four- to 18-inch stem is openly branched, with a flower head terminating at the end of each branch. The stem also is very leafy and bears deeply dissected, fernlike leaves that are lightly woolly with a dusty look. Larger leaves form a rosette at the base. This species could be confused with yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which does have ray flowers. HABITAT/RANGE: Commonly grows on dry, gravelly or sandy soils of mountain ridges, hillsides and disturbed sites of mid-mountain to alpine elevations. Distributed from British Columbia to Montana, south to New Mexico and California, it flowers through the summer. FACTS/USES: The specific name honors botanist David Douglas.

 

0ELK THISTLE Cirsium scariosum Elk thistle has large, spiny, grayish-green leaves attached to a thick stalk, which may stand anywhere from four inches to four feet tall. The light lavender flowers are hidden and clumped among the foliage near the top. HABITAT/RANGE: Prefers meadows and other moist soils from foothills to mountain and subalpine zones. It is a common plant from British Columbia to Saskatchewan south to New Mexico and California. Blooms June to early August. FACTS/USES: Elk thistle, also know as Everts' thistle, saved the life of Truman Everts in Yellowstone National Park in 1870. Everts, an explorer, became separated from his group and his horse for 37 days. Because a botanist had remarked that the root of this plant was edible and nutritious, it was the only plant he knew was safe to eat, and he subsisted on the raw root.

 

0BULL THISTLE Cirsium vuigare This biennial herb reproduces by seeds. The first year, a rosette of coarsely toothed, lanceolate leaves appears. By the second year, a stout one- to six-foot stalk arises from the taproot. The leaves are deeply cut with long, needle-pointed spines, and the upper surface of the leaf is covered with short, stiff hairs. The flower heads, deep-purple to rose-colored, are one to two inches wide. HABITAT/RANGE: Bull thistle is an introduced and naturalized plant from Eurasia, now found throughout the United States and north into Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. An invader of pastures and other disturbed sites, it is a late summer and early fall bloomer. FACTS/USES: The generic name, Cirsium, is derived from the Greek word kirsos, which means a swollen vein for which thistles were used as a remedy.

 

0SHOWY FLEABANE Erigeron spec/osus As its common name implies, this is one of the showiest, most colorful and widespread fleabanes of the West. One to several flower heads are borne on short stalks arising from leaf axils and forming a somewhat flat-topped arrangement. Each flower head is one to two inches in diameter and composed of yellow, tubular disk flowers and narrow, linear, lilac to bluish-purple ray flowers. The involucral bracts are in two rows, narrow and finely granular. The leafy stems are erect and usually one to three feet tall. Leaves are alternate, entire with conspicuous hairs along the margin, and the upper leaves somewhat clasp the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: Showy fleabane inhabits moist, open meadows, woods and burned sites of coniferous forests. Distributed from British Columbia to Alberta, south to New Mexico and California. Blooms June to August. FACTS/USES: The specific name means showy or good-looking.

 

0WOOLLY SUNFLOWER Eriophyllum lanatum This species is a small, usually clumped, perennial herb with golden-yellow flower heads. The erect stems, four to 24 inches tall, are leafy and covered with dense, white, woolly hairs, giving the plant a gray appearance. Each stem is branched and bears a flower head of eight to 12 broad, yellow ray flowers and yellow disk flowers. The fruit is a slender, four-angled achene. HABITAT/RANGE: Woolly sunflower prefers dry, open, often sandy or gravelly soils of ridges or roadsides of foothills to mountain slopes. It typically occurs from British Columbia to Western Montana, south to Utah and southern California. Flowers May through July. FACTS/USES: The generic name is derived from the Greek words erion, forwool, and phyllon, for foliage, and refers to the dense, gray, woolly stems and leaves. The specific name also means woolly.

 

0MISSOURI GOLDENROD Solidago missouriensis Missouri goldenrod is an erect, perennial herb ascending eight to 36 inches from a well-developed creeping rhizome. The small, yellow flower heads are arranged on one side of the spreading branches in a densely clustered inflorescence. Each flower head contains ray and disk flowers, usually with eight-or occasionally up to 13-ray flowers. The lanceolate, smooth and entire leaves are arranged alternately along the stem. HABITAT/RANGE: It prefers dry, often gravelly, open sites of plains, valley and high-mountain elevations. It is a Great Plains dweller distributed from southern British Columbia to Wisconsin, south to Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Flowers July to September. FACTS/USES: The generic name is derived from the Latin names solidusand ago, meaning to make whole, and refers to its medicinal healing properties.

 

 


For more information on Yellowstone National Park and
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YellowstoneNationalPark.com
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