Pollinators congregate as nectar and pollen dwindle

When I arrived at the campground at Deep Lake, I was stunned and disappointed. Instead of meadows bright with flowers, I saw one healthy aster and a paltry, diffuse population of spent flowers. Read more

Snowpack is boon for subalpine larkspurs

These are large plants with towers, or racemes, of deep blue to purple flowers that reach heights of 6 feet. They are most spectacular when they grow intermixed with cow parsnip and loveroot. Read more

Elaborate elephant's heads flowers require buzz pollination

Elephant's heads are found in subalpine and alpine habitats in western mountains from New Mexico to Alaska and throughout Canada, except for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. Read more

Wildfires generate their own weather

A wildfire's heat and rising plumes of air cause it to create its own weather, and now we appreciate that the big wildfires send aerosols — both particulates and gases — all the way around the world. Read more
Checkered beetle

Ornate checkered beetles eat bees and pollen

Ornate checkered beetles are bright, conspicuous and tolerant of humans, so they are easily found and fun to watch. Read more

Smoke season is replacing the monsoon season

My trip was to be three nights long, combining camping and photography, and I longed... Read more

Hummingbirds pollinate claret cup cactus

A profound drought has delayed spring in the southwest, and claret cup is one of the first cacti to flower in spring. Read more

Mat saltbush thrives on Mancos Shale

Plant communities are usually nicknamed for the most dominant species, such as a ponderosa pine community or a pinyon-juniper woodland. Mat saltbush, also called matscale, communities live on such harsh soils that they are sometimes the only species in in the community. Read more

We live in the dawn of the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene epoch is a unit of geological time in which humans exert a dominant influence on climate and the environment, but we have not reached consensus on its starting point. Read more

Following dinosaurs along Colorado's Purgatoire River

More than 1,500 fossil footprints allow you to follow dinosaurs as they walked along a lakeshore 150 million years ago. The dinosaur tracksite, the largest in North America, is beside the Purgatoire River in Picketwire Canyon south of La Junta. Read more

Silky phacelia is a handsome wildflower with a special talent

On soils containing gold, silky phacelia is protected by gold, cyanide and even some arsenic. On soils devoid of gold, it is protected by cyanide. Read more

The paradox of toxic nectar and pollen in death camas

Some species of plant, such as death camas, include toxins in nectar and pollen, presenting a bedeviling paradox. Why attract pollinators and then kill them? Read more