Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Boulder-White Clouds a haven for rare plants

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Express Staff Writer

Written on July 30, 2003

The rugged Boulder and White Cloud mountains contain a unique collection of alpine and sub-alpine plant communities, including one plant that is found nowhere else on the globe.

In fact, numerous species of plants listed as "sensitive" by the U.S. Forest Service occur in the White Cloud Mountains, while one rare plant that may occur in the area is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

· White Cloud milkvetch (Astragalus vexilliflexus) is a low-lying flowering plant that is endemic to the White Cloud Mountains. Only nine populations of the plant are known globally, all of which occur in the higher elevations of the northeast section of the White Clouds.

· The slender moonwort (Botrychium lineare) is a rare fern that occurs in alpine meadows, forests, cliffs and grasslands. A species that is a candidate for protection under the ESA, the slender moonwort was discovered on Railroad Ridge in the White Cloud Mountains in 2002.

· Northern sagewort (Artemisia campestris) is a blooming perennial that ranges throughout North America, but is found in Idaho only in the White Cloud Mountains.

· Ute ladies' tresses (Spiranthes diluvialis), an orchid that grows in riparian streamside and lakeside areas, is listed under the ESA as a "threatened" plant species. The White Cloud Mountains are considered excellent habitat for the plant.

· Silvery/Jones primrose (Primula incana), a riparian flowering plant that prefers stream banks and moist meadows, has been documented nowhere in Idaho except near the East Fork of the Salmon River, in the White Clouds.

Other sensitive plant species that occur in the White Cloud Mountains include wedge-leaf saxifrage, Farr's willow, Challis milkvetch and Brewer's sedge.

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