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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some Tough Cookies

Before this surprising snow buried the Berry Prairie beneath a foot or more of snow, several species had been fooled into thinking spring was here. Now, with the snow melting away, a few look a bit haggard, some look like they barely noticed, and others look positively thriving.

Here's a sampling:

Sharpleaf Twinpod (Physaria acutifolia) - a bit flat, but otherwise looking fine.

Sharpleaf Twinpod (Physaria acutifolia)

Stalkpod Locoweed (Oxytropis podocarpa).  This photo was taken before the big snow, because he looks somewhat less handsome now.  Locoweeds are a new addition to the Prairie last year - they're a scrappy group of plants in the pea family, which do well in Wyoming's harsh conditions.

Stalkpod Locoweed (Oxytropis podocarpa)

Cutleaf fleabane (Erigeron compositus) must have really liked the snow! Today the plants, freshly emerged from the snow, are covered with buds that look like they’ll open tomorrow. No one should be surprised--this species thrives in gravelly, windy places most of us would find daunting.

Cutleaf fleabane (Erigeron compositus)

The snow brought much-needed moisture to the Berry Prairie (and the rest of the Laramie Valley), so expect lots more flowering soon!

Written by Dorothy Tuthill, UW Biodiversity Institute

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Season of "Sprinter"

Laramie is in its classic shoulder-season: Sprinter. The time of year where spring and winter collide, and you might grill out in your flip flops one day and shovel 8 inches of snow the next. Literally. Like the weather we've experienced this week.

But Sprinter is a super necessary season for our native plants that rely on the slowly melting, heavy snow that soaks into the soil. This is good for plant growth, fire prevention, water resources for local communities, etc etc. 

So no complaining about snow! After all, the Berry Prairie plants that you can't even see aren't complaining. If they could, they'd be grinning leaf to leaf!

Written by Brenna  Marsicek, UW Biodiversity Institute