The flora and vegetation of Yellowstone Park often seem to play second fiddle to the gushing geysers and other geological wonders that make Yellowstone Park famous. However, these geological effects produce an environment in which some very interesting and unique plants flourish.
The Yellow Monkeyflower
The season from May to June is the ideal time to see the best of Yellowstone Park's wildflowers. The Yellow Monkeyflower is a rare flower that blooms between May and August and is found by Yellowstone's hot and steamy volcanic thermal vents as well as wet places in the park, such as swamps and streams.
White Bark Pine
The White Bark Pine is an evergreen that flourishes in areas of thin, dry soil and high, cool elevations where it is usually found in homogeneous groups. It is also found at lower elevations in more humid climates with groups of other conifer trees. This tree reduces erosion and produces food for local fauna, but is threatened by blister rust, a foreign bacteria that makes the tree more vulnerable to beetle infestations.
Sand verbena is a unique plant exists nowhere else in the world except along the sandy edges of lake shores in Yellowstone Park. This plant grows in sandy soil along the flat ground and blooms into small white flowers between June and September. This plant is of extreme importance to botanists because it represents a very rare niche of the high-elevation, thermally-influenced plant biome.
Dalmation toadflax is classified by Yellowstone Park Management as an exotic plant variety. Exotic plants are weeds and other nuisance plants that are not native to the area and have to be rigorously managed by spraying and pulling to keep them from crowding out less aggressive local plants. Dalmation toadflax is one of 15 varieties of exotic plants that are being managed by the park.
Yellowstone Sulfur Buckwheat
Another rare plant of the park is the Yellowstone Sulfur Buckwheat that evolved rapidly to survive next to possibly toxic volcanic river drainage systems and can be found near where the Firehole River drains out in Yellowstone. Of the approximately 250 different species of buckwheat in the world, most of them are found in the western US and many have evolved in similar ways.
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