01/07/14

 

Teton Nature
The Grand Tetons are locate in Wyoming, a relatively young mountain range between Jackson Hole an the Yellowstone National Park.

Lodgepole Pine Forests Lodgepole pine grows in dense forests covering much of the valley and the lower slopes of the mountains. Expect olivesided flycatchers, yellow-rumped warblers, ruby-crowned kinglets, mountain chickadees, white-crowned and chipping sparrows and dark-eyed juncos (especially in developed areas within lodgepole forests such as Colter Bay). Aspens occur chiefly in pure stands, often on hillsides. Many of the aspen stands in the park and parkway have rotting trunks that attract numerous woodpeckers. Sawwhet owls, house wrens, mountain and black-capped chickadees, tree swallows and violet-green swallows nest in old woodpecker cavities.

Sagebrush Flats

Sagebrush covers most of the valley called Jackson Hole. Despite the hot dry conditions existing where sagebrush grows, some species flourish. Look for sage grouse, vesper sparrows, Brewer’s sparrows and sage thrashers.

Alpine

Above 10,000 feet, severe conditions limit vegetation to low-growing forms. Birds that nest above treeline migrate south or to lower elevations for winter. Watch for golden eagles, Clark’s nutcrackers, rosy finches, white-crowned sparrows and water pipits.

Aquatic and Riparian

Numerous rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds provide habitats where Canada geese and other waterfowl nest and osprey and bald eagles hunt for fish. Common snipe, white-crowned and Lincoln sparrows, common yellowthroats nest and forage in adjacent wet meadows. American dippers search for insects in fast-moving streams.

Wildflowers color the Tetons as the snow melts. Warm weather arrives first in the Jackson Hole valley. Snow level gradually retreats up the mountain canyons throughout the summer. Behind the melting snow come the wildflowers, brightening valley then canyon. Eventually snow leaves areas above treeline, allowing dwarf alpine plants their time to flower.
Common Shrubs

Big sagebrush thrives in dry habitats and carpets most of the valley floor. Plants are one to five feet tall; leaves are grayish green. Tiny yellow flowers bloom in August.

Antelope bitterbrush occurs with sagebrush in the southern half of Jackson Hole. Bitterbrush grows to three feet tall. Creamcolored flowers bloom in June.

Huckleberry grows two to four feet tall in lodgepole pine forests in the valley and mountain canyons. Purple berries are produced in August.

Serviceberry grows to ten feet tall. Showy white flowers bloom in spring, producing purple berries by late summer.

Chokecherry is a large shrub that grows to twenty feet tall. Cylindrical clusters of showy white flowers bloom in spring.

Utah honeysuckle grows in open lodgepole pine forests. Leaves are opposite. Paired cream-colored flowers bloom in early June, producing fused red unpalatable berries.

Mountain ash grows on the lower slopes of the Tetons. This tall shrub has compound leaves. Flat-topped clusters of white flowers bloom in June. In fall bright orange fruits complement vivid red leaves.

Willows occur in moist areas, especially along stream banks. Twenty species are found in the park and parkway.

Snowbrush ceanothus thrives in burned areas. Shiny, leathery green leaves are retained through winter. Clusters of aromatic white flowers bloom in June.

Aquatic habitats and adjacent forests, marshes and meadows fulfill the needs of many forms of wildlife. Diverse and abundant vegetation offers excellent food and cover. Water is plentiful. Look for moose, river otters, beavers, muskrats, coyotes, bison and mule deer.
Growing Zones

Alpine (above 10,000 feet)

Above treeline, plants adapt to wind, snow, and lack of soil by growing close to the ground. Alpine plants take advantage of a brief growing season by flowering soon after the snow melts. Some species grow only in the alpine area; others grow tall at lower elevations but are dwarfed in the alpine.

Books on Plants

For further information on wildflowers, consult Plants of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks by Richard J. Shaw
Vascular Plants of Grand Teton National Park and Teton County, An Annotated Checklist by Richard J. Shaw and A Field
Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers by John J. Craighead, Frank C. Craighead, Jr., and Ray J. Davis

 
 
Reminder

Enjoy the wildflowers but please leave them for others to appreciate also. Picking wildflowers is prohibited within Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway. Edible berries, plants and mushrooms may be gathered by hand for personal daily consumption. Please be certain of plant identification before eating parts of any wild plants.

 

 

 
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This site was last updated 04/30/12 s

 

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