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Of Elk, Bumblebees, Arnica, Bog Orchids and Ceanothus

May 18, 2013

The Snowbrush (a Ceanothus) has tiny delicate white flowers that belie its importance as a wildlife food. One of the photos posted here shows an example of browse on Snowbrush. You can see some of the hair left behind by the browsing elk. Ungulates have no upper teeth. They have a very tough “callous” on their gums. They wrap their tongue around the vegetation and tear the vegetation with their lower front incisors. As a result, the browsed twig has a ragged looking “snip” as opposed to the clean cut of a rabbit’s browsing, for example. Ceanothus has nitogen-fixing nodes on its roots and produces seeds that can last up to 200 years in the soil. The seeds are most often stimulated to germinate by fire.

Two other plants that are flowering at the moment are the bright yellow Mountain Arnica and the Green-flowered Bog Orchid. A Bumble Bee was busily excavating pollen as I snapped the photo of the Arnica.

Ceonothus - Snowbrush Blossoms

Ceanothus – Snowbrush Blossoms: a favourite elk and deer food

Ceanothus flowers up close

Ceanothus flowers up close

Elk hair stuck on Snowbrush twig.  Many of the twigs have been browsed by elk or deer

Elk hair stuck on Snowbrush twig. Many of the twigs have been browsed by elk or deer

Elk

Elk

A Mountain Arnica and a Bumble Bee

A Mountain Arnica and a Bumble Bee

A Bog Orchid

A Bog Orchid

all writing and photos copyright Joanne A. Siderius

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