Monday, October 24, 2011

Fine Variations on a Winning Theme

Sagebrush is arguably the most successful and dominant plant in the Intermountain West, swathing landscapes in gray-green from subalpine peaks to low desert flats between the Columbia Basin and the Colorado Plateau.

Although well known, sagebrush is often unrecognized when it hides in plain view. It provides a subdued backdrop of small, dusky leaves and tiny, green flowers against which buttercups, larkspur,balsamroot, and lupines parade...

Sagebrush is self-sufficient and does not need insects to pollinate its flowers; it simply releases pollen for the wind to carry. Instead of relying on birds or mammals to disperse its seeds, sagebrush just drops them to the ground or skids them across firm snow like tiny curling stones.

Learn more in my most recent column in Rangelands.