For the first several days in South Dakota, I didn’t notice that many wildflowers, or when I did, it appeared they were all the same as I’d seen in North Dakota. However, near the end of our stay, I started noticing some new and unique flowers. Whether my powers of observation were sharpening or if some evening rain showers had caused new blooms to appear, we may never know. 🙂
Here are the new flowers I came across in South Dakota:
Unfortunately, as far as plant life is concerned, there was something going on that couldn’t be overlooked. And unlike the flowers, it is certainly not pleasant. We noticed lots of ponderosa pine trees with red rather than green needles. At first, you may think that this looks kind of neat, a stark contrast that is reminiscent of tree leaves changing color in the fall. However, evergreens aren’t meant to do this. This is a sign that the trees are dying. It is caused by the larvae of mountain pine beetles feeding under the bark and preventing the tree from getting the nutrients that it needs. Luckily, Custer State Park, and hopefully other forest management divisions, have been working to combat this issue, and from various material we read and signs that were posted throughout the park, it appears their methods are working to control the spread of the beetles and give the healthy and new trees a good chance at survival. Important to remember, is that you can help (both in this area of the country and elsewhere), by not transporting your own firewood, as these can harbor mountain pine beetles, emerald ash borers, and other problem causing critters. Always get your firewood wherever you are going rather than bringing it with you.
Wyoming was full of wildflowers. They seemed to be in much greater abundance than anywhere else we’d been. Also, once you found one wildflower, there were often entire patches if not fields of them. Add the picturesque lakes and mountains that were often located nearby and you’ve hit the jackpot as far as scenery is concerned.
Most of the named flowers are credited to our friend L as she found a book in one of the visitor centers describing many of the local plants.
Here are the flowers we saw in the Grand Tetons:
Here are the flowers we saw in Yellowstone:
Sugarbowl; Hairy Clematis