RENO, Nev. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has determined that two species of buckwheat in Nevada do not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The two species are Churchill Narrows buckwheat (Eriogonum diatomaceum) and Las Vegas buckwheat (Eriogonum corymbosum var. nilesii). The decision will be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.
In making this determination, the Service completed a comprehensive status review, known as a 12-month finding, and found that the best scientific and commercial data available indicates that listing either species of buckwheat as threatened or endangered is not warranted. The Service performed threat analyses on both species based on five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) Disease or predation; (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
The Service found that these factors currently may have minor impacts on individual plants in some locations, but they are not impacting either species as a whole currently or into the future. However, the Service asks the public to submit any new information that becomes available concerning the threats to the plants or their habitats at any time.
Learn more here: http://www.fws.gov/nevada/highlights/news_releases/2014/nr_nevada_buckwheats_not_warranted_9-23-14.pdf
Follow the link below to see a great new publication on Medusahead management.
Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is a common tree in the Basin and Range region especially at elevation between 6,500 and 10,000 feet. It is actually one of the most widespread trees in North America. Aspen are often referred to as "quakies," but they also are known as trembling poplar, golden aspen and mountain aspen.
Quaking aspen grows on a variety of soils ranging from shallow and rocky to deep loamy sands and heavy clays. The best quaking aspen stands in the Basin and Range are on soils developed from igneous rock, and from neutral or calcareous shales and limestones. Aspen tend to grow well wherever soil moisture is not limiting.
Aspen can grow between 40-100 feet in height. They have white, smooth bark that is distinctive. It can be confused with birch however birch bark peels off the trunk like paper where aspen bark does not. Aspen have characteristic black scars on the white bark where old limbs have fallen due to to self pruning. The leaves are green, alternate, slightly toothed and are cordate to round in shape. The top of the leaves are a darker, glossy green, while the bottoms are paler. The leaves turn bright gold in the fall, sometimes turning bright orange and red.
Aspens are really neat, unique trees. All of the trees in a stand of aspen tend to be from one single organism, with most of their "body" residing underground. They have massive root systems that can reach up to 20 acres in size. When there is enough sunlight, roots sprout up from the ground to form white "trunks", which then leaf out and look like individual trees. This is a type of Asexual reproduction--where offspring arise from a single organism and offspring are basically a clone of the parent. Aspen will reproduce sexually, as a flowering plant, only after severe fire and/or under ideal environmental conditions.
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_2/populus/tremuloides.htm accessed 9/2014
http://www.nps.gov/brca/naturescience/quakingaspen.htm accessed 9/2014
Rubber Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) holds a near and dear place in this writer’s heart. Its violent attack on my sinuses every year surely signals the start of fall. It is a common and widely distributed throughout the basin and range and the whole of the arid areas of western North America. Sources say that it is also known as Chamisa, rubber and gray rabbitbrush, nut I've only ever heard rabbitbrush. It is a perennial shrub that belongs to the Aster family, so it’s related to daisies as well as sagebrush (with which it often grows).
It grows in disturbed areas and does well in poor conditions. It also can handle coarse, alkaline soils. It’s best distinguished by its bright clumps of yellow flowers and its otherwise gray appearance. It can grow to be very tall (up to eight feet!) but in my experience generally remains about 2 to 3 feet.
Shrubs are generally rounded if seen from above and flower heads are made up of 5 small, yellow, tubular flowers, and are arranged in dense, rounded or flat-topped clusters at the ends of the branches. Flowers bloom from August to October as other plants fade and rabbitbrush provides vivid color and an important pollen source for insects late in the summer (as well as its aforementioned sneeze producing potential and the distinct smell of it on the wind). Shrubs reproduce via an abundance of small, wind-dispersed seeds and can also sprout from the base.
According to Joseh Masco (via Wikipedia), The Nuclear Borderlands, specimens of rabbitbrush growing in Bajo Canyon near Los Alamos contained a concentration of radioactive strontium-90 that was 300,000 times higher than a normal plant! Apparently it’s roots tapped into nuclear waste thinking that the strontium was calcium due to their similar properties. The radioactive shrubs are, according to Masco, “indistinguishable from other shrubs without a Geiger counter.”
Rabbit brush is a very important plant for the basin and range. It quickly moves into disturbed sites which are also often the targets of invasive weeds and it provides ground cover and erosion control. It is an important pollinator and also provides limited forage. According to the Plant Fact Sheet Native Americans used rabbitbrush for baskets, yellow dye, chewing gum, tea, cough syrup, and to treat chest pains. During World War II it was considered as a substitute for commercial rubber and remains a minor commercial rubber source.
Rabbitbrush is a familiar face for many of us in the basin and range, its pungent odor and beautiful fall colors surely marking the change of the seasons and its fading away also marking the end of the allergy season!
Contributed by: Daniel Montero
The Great Basin and Invasive Weeds site, Utah State University, “Rubber rabbitbrush.” http://www.usu.edu/weeds/plant_species/nativespecies/rabbitbrush.html.
USDA Forest Service. “Plant of the Week: Rubber Rabbitbrush.” http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/ericameria_nauseosa.shtml.
USDA NRCS, “Plant Fact Sheet: Rubber rabbitbrush.” http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/ericameria_nauseosa.shtml.
Wikipedia, “Ericameria nauseosa.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ericameria_nauseosa.
Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) is fairly prominent across the western landscape and is also known as antelope brush, deerbrush and quininebrush. Bitterbrush tends to grow below pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine forests and is typically associated with sagebrush, rabbitbrush, curlleaf mountain mahogany, balsamroot and mules ear. It commonly grows on dry, south-facing slopes--preferring sandy to rocky, well drained soils.
It tends to be a medium sized bush, but the size can vary greatly depending upon where it's growing. At higher elevations it can even become prostrate, but typically it ranges from 3-9 ft in height. The leaves are simple with three lobes and are bright green which helps distinguish the leaves from that of a sagebrush. They have many small, five petaled, yellow flowers that bloom in late spring. The flower petals are spoon-shaped narrow towards the center of the flower and wide towards the edge.
Bitterbrush is very important winter forage for wildlife. Mule deer and pronghorn depend upon it for sustenance during the winter months.
RENO, Nev. — Webber’s ivesia (Ivesia webberi) was given protection under the Endangered Species Act
(ESA) as a threatened species on June 2, 2014 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in addition, the Service
designated 2,170 acres of critical habitat for the species.
"Webber's ivesia is threatened with extinction because of many factors, particularly the invasion of nonnative
plant species and associated increases in the frequency and severity of wildfires throughout the species' limited
range," said Ted Koch, State Supervisor for the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office.
Webber’s ivesia is restricted to sites with sparse vegetation and shallow, rocky, clay soils on mid-elevation flats,
benches or terraces between 4,475 and 6,237 feet elevation in Washoe and Douglas Counties in Nevada, and in
Lassen, Plumas and Sierra Counties, in California. All 17 known populations of Webber’s ivesia are within the
transition zone between the eastern edge of the northern Sierra Nevada and the northwestern edge of the Great
Basin. One of these populations is presumed extirpated (no longer found).
Webber’s ivesia is a member of the rose family. It is a low-growing, perennial forb that is approximately ten
inches in diameter with clusters of leaves that lie nearly flat on the ground. It has greenish-gray leaves, dark red,
wiry stems, and head-like clusters of small bright yellow flowers. Flowering typically begins in May and
extends through June and the whole plant becomes reddish-tinged late in the season.
See full article here: http://www.fws.gov/nevada/highlights/news_releases/2014/nr-webbers-ivesia-final6-02-14.pdf
Yellow Bell (Fritillaria pudica) belongs to the lily or Liliaceae family. It has an erect stem with lance-shaped leaves and can grow to be about 4-12 inches tall. The flowers are yellow and they nod towards the ground. They are also shaped like a bell, hence the common name, Yellow Bell. Yellow Bells are one of the first flowers to show up after the snow melts. It typically bloom in April and May.
The bulbs of the Yellow Bell are edible and are quite tasty. They can be eaten raw or cooked and can be a nice addition to soup. However, it would take killing many of these beautiful little plants to create a meal. Personally, I think it would be a shame to kill large amounts of this lovely little plant to eat, unless it's absolutely necessary.
Remember, if you are going to pick wild food from nature try to take less than 10% of what is there. That way the population can sustain itself and you and future generations can continue picking wild edibles for years to come.
Also, beware that many plants in the lily family are quite poisonous and eating them can lead to death. Many lilies can look quite similar when they are young. Please take great care and have a solid grasp of plant identification skills before you ingest any wild plant material
Daggerpod (Phoenicaulis cheiranthoides) is a neat looking plant, they have a cluster of fuzzy gray-green leaves that look as if someone came along and folded them in half.
Daggerpods belong to the mustard (Brassicaceae) family and have the typical four petaled flowers. The flowers are light pink, similar to the pink of a wild rose flower and they grow in a cluster (like most mustards) at the end of a long steam. The flowers tend to grow along the ground, out of the sides of the plant, forming a pretty purple halo around the cluster of leaves. The fruits, in contrast to the soft leaves, have sharp-edged blades that give it it's common name--daggerpod.
Daggerpods grow in many types of habitats, but tend to grow on rocky slopes in the sagebrush steppe. They tend to like areas that are between 5,000 and 10,000 feet in elevation, and grow throughout the Great Basin.
The Hot-Rock Penstemon (Penstemon deustus) is fairly inconspicuous. It has small flowers and the plant is quite bushy so you don't necessarily notice the flowers at first. When you do notice the flowers, you find that they are unique and quite beautiful. They are white and trumpet-like with five-lobed mouths. The flowers also have dark purple/brown guidelines that lead to the nectar hidden within. It is a perennial herb with upright branches. The leaves are lance-shaped to round, and are sharply toothed.
Hot-Rock Penstemon is a useful plant, it is used for wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration efforts. It is also a popular plant used in xeriscaping. In addition, a poultice of the smashed leaves has been used to aid in the healing of skin sores, such as boils, mosquito bites, tick bites and open sores.
It's fun to see the Hot-Rock Penstemon in nature, because it's so different from most of the penstemon in the area. Many Penstemon tend to have bright purple, pink and/or blue flowers, so the white flowers of the Hot-Rock are quite unique.
From the University of Nevada Reno, Cooperative Extension, see full article here.
Nevada’s McAdoo encourages the use of shrub transplants to restore sagebrush-dependent ecosystems
Natural Resource Specialist Kent McAdoo recently shared results from research testing the restoration of sagebrush in areas where grasses became the dominant vegetation after fire or other causes. In his published results, McAdoo, of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, explained that sagebrush is vital for sage-grouse and other wildlife on much of Nevada’s rangelands.
"It serves as critical habitat for a number of sagebrush-associated wildlife species, including the sage-grouse, which is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act," he said. "Usually direct-seeding is currently used for sagebrush restoration methods. It’s cheaper, but often unreliable."
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