North & south of the Snake River Basin

Jason Schmidt (now of Long Tom Watershed Council) was the sole field assistant on this trip.

Jason Schmidt was the sole field assistant on this trip; here we make dinner in a meadow in the Jarbidge Wilderness.

In August 2008, I flew to Boise with Jason Schmidt (now at the Bureau of Environmental Services, City of Portland) to begin a visit to mountains south and north of the Snake River Basin in southern Idaho. We first drove south to Jarbidge, Nevada along very dusty roads, unreliably marked after we left ID-51 on Rowland Road. Previous to the trip, I’d taken a look at collections of Pyrola picta (actually P. dentata) from the area that the herbarium and New York Botanical Garden had loaned me.

herbarium_specimen

Hebarium specimen showing P. dentata collected in 1988 from the Jarbidge Mountains, Nevada.

Jarbidge is a town of about 25 people and sits just west of the massive and beautiful Jarbidge Wilderness. We collected P. dentata from a few populations, one of which had clearly burned sometime within the last five years or so. The plants appeared to respond to the stress by producing very large clusters of about twenty ramets each (see below).

From Nevada, we traveled north to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho to seek out and sample Pyrola species from populations north of the Snake River Basin. Whereas the first part of our trip (in Nevada) was highlighted by beautiful vistas in remote places, our trip for the latter half of our trip was punctuated by additional, memorable experiences:

  • we spotted a radio-collared wolf slinking along the road!
  • i locked the car keys inside the trunk of our rental car and proceeded to break all of the door locks with a slim jim trying to get inside the car– who knew the linkages are made of plastic in new(ish) vehicles?
PYDE_following_fire

P. dentata growing in the Jarbidge Wilderness on a post-burn hillside. The growth form is somewhat unusual.

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