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Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Really Good Badlands Day

My first real trip to the Badlands for this year. I hiked around with a friend on this sunny, fine day of spring; a treat as I usually go by myself. The grass was just beginning to green up and we saw this little plant which I know as wild parsley but the guidebook calls desert biscuitroot.

Interesting facts from the guidebook:
1) When you crush the leaves it smells like celery. I did not try this so I can neither confirm nor deny.
2)Men of the indigenous Plains people used the fruit in love charms. Again, I cannot confirm nor deny since I am not a man of the indigenous Plains people.

You can tell the wild parsley/desert biscuitroot is a plains plant because of the wooliness of the leaves which minimizes the impact of the heat and wind. Many plains plants have this adaptation. The hairs minimize direct contact with the air which slows evaporation and creates shade. Having been on the Plains during the scorch of summer, I know how vital this is.

Close up of a leaf and stem wooliness

Wild parsley is one of the first forbs to be bloom and indeed there were no other flowering plants. We saw some sort of cool season grass, I'm not good at grass ID so I can't tell you what it was, that was starting to green up but everything else was dormant.

Animal wise in addition to prairie dogs, we saw many big horn sheep, deer, a few bison in the distance and two burrowing owls hanging out at prairie dog holes.

Any day spent at the Badlands is a good day but when there are owls, it's a really good day.