Sunday, May 18, 2014

Some nasty, some nice

We had a great wildflower hike on Green Mountain Saturday morning.  Lots of good questions, and a great leader in Carol Dawson of the BLM.  The hike was sponsored by Lakewood Parks and they had lots of good information available.  We'll try to do it again.

Since we started at the Florida trailhead by the parking lot, the trails are well used and there are lots of invasives right near the parking (these are The Nasties)  We saw a couple flowers from the Mustard family (Brassicaceae) and everyone might have gotten a bad impression of mustards.  Although many of the mustards we have in Colorado are invasive there are lots of great ones that are native and don't look so scraggly!

Here's one of the nasties, Jim Hill (or Tumble) Mustard.  It gets about 3' tall and in the fall the stem breaks and it becomes a tumble weed.  If you check my post from April 6 you can see some Yellow Alyssum, but it's mostly done blooming now and has formed a bunch of short brown stalks with round, float seed pods, or silicles.
Jim Hill Mustard (Sisymbrium altissimum)
BUT, there are some really pretty members of the mustards.  Right now there are several blooming.  Wallflower is a typical mustard with its four petals, but they're larger than some of its weedy brothers.  It grows higher on the mountain so if you get close to the top, look for it.

Wallflower (Erysimum asperum)

Two others, the bladderpods, have come out in the last couple weeks.  They look pretty similar, but the Fiddle-leaf Bladderpod is a bigger, showier plant with leaves that resemble a cello.  The Mountain Bladderpod is a little smaller, a little more common, and has very thin (lanceolate) leaves). You can see both of these all over the mountain, but there's a big Fiddler (10" in diameter and about 6-8" tall) on the trail between the Florida and Utah trailheads.  They'll last a few weeks, so enjoy them. 

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