Friday, May 2, 2008

Wildflowers are re-imagined

Express Staff Writer

By A. Scott Earle, Larkspur Publishing. $19.95. 255 pgs.

Written first in 2001 by Dr. A. Scott Earle, "Idaho Mountain Wildflowers: A Photographic Compendium" is one of the richest books of its kind. Now in a second edition with updated material, it has even more relevance. Surely anyone who lives here during the spring and early summer has experienced wildflower season in its glory. If not, grab this book—now in paperback—and head into the hills.

The expanded version contains 225 more plants from the mountains of Idaho than the previous edition. It is co-authored by Jane Lundin of Seattle, who spends her summers in Sun Valley and has photographed wildflowers here for years. Acting as a plant consultant was Dr. James Reveal, emeritus professor of botany at the University of Maryland and now on the faculty at Cornell University.

The Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery first collected many of the plants shown in the book in the mountains of present-day Idaho and in adjoining states. More than a few of them were unknown to science until the expedition's dried specimens were shown in 1806 in Philadelphia.

Idaho is not generally known as the garden capital of the country. However, the Lewis & Clark Expedition to the uncharted West Coast gave Captain Meriwether Lewis an opportunity to identify and collect seeds of hundreds of species for President Thomas Jefferson, a plant enthusiast.

For instance, what is known as the Cascade Mountain ash is in the Rosaceae family and was collected along the North Fork of the Salmon River in Lemhi County on Sept. 2, 1805. Silky lupine was discovered almost 2002 years ago on June 5, 1906 at the Clearwater River near Kaimah, Idaho. Among other finds in Idaho were penstemon, mariposa lily, chokecherry and achillea, as well as varieties of grass, sedum, scutellaria, liatris and clematis.


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