Vegetation

Douglas-fir

Douglas-fir (Psuedotsuga menziesii) are found throughout the high elevations of the Lamar Valley and thrive on cool, north-facing slopes. They are not actually firs (their cones hang down, not up). Their thick, corky bark gives them fire resistance and they can live hundreds of years and grow to 100' (30.5 meters). Beneath Douglas-fir, ungulates graze and shelter in the open understory of grasses and flowers, and bushes.

Lodgepole Pine

Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) are one of the most common trees in the northen Rocky Mountains. They can grow to 100'(30.5 meters) and are named for their tall straight trunks. Their cones require heat from forest fires to open and release their seeds. Lodgepole canopies are so dense that they prevent most other vegetation from growing resulting in a sparse understory of mostly pinegrass.

Whitebark pine

Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) is a high elevation tree that can grow in the harsh, dry terrain found at timberline. In recent years, Yellowstone's whitebark pines have been decimated by white pine blister rust (a fungus), pine beetle infestations, climate change (drought), and altered wildland fire management. Their white, wind-twisted skeletons are a distinctive sight in WolfQuest.

Aspen

Quaking Aspen (populus tremuloides) is a deciduous trees in the willow family and is named for its round leaves that quake or tremble in the breeze. Aspen have white-gray bark and their leaves turn bright yellow in autumn. Aspen stands grow in moist, open forests and along rivers. They are a preferred food and construction material source for beavers.

Cottonwood

Narrow-leaf cottonwood (Populus augustifolia) grows along streambanks and on sandbars of the Lamar River. It is a fast growing tree and can reach 60' (18 meters). A member of the willow family, it is a preferred source of food and construction materials of beavers. Cottonwoods also provide shelter and food for riparian birds.

Willow

Several kinds of willow shrubs (such as Salix bebbiana) grow in moist areas like Slough Creek. Willows and other riparian shrubs provide essential habitat and food for many animals such as moose and beavers. Their roots stabilize riverbanks and slow erosion. Willow thickets provide dense cover for all kinds of animals, from birds to bears.

Sagebrush

Mountain Big Sagebrush (artemisia tridentata) dominates the sagebrush-steppe habitat where grows up to 9000' (__ meters) and on dry, south-facing slopes. It can reach 6-8' (__ meters) and has silver-blue leaves and yellow flowers, June-September. Sagebrush is adaptable and can grow smaller leaves during drought. Ungulates like mule deer and pronghorn depend on sagebrush as winter forage.

Fescue

Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis) is a grass that dominates sagebrush-steppe. There are many kinds of fescue and ungulates love them all. Even grizzlies like fescue – especially in the spring when they are roaringly hungry after their long hibernation.

credit: Jacopo Werther via Wikimedia Commons

Pinegrass

Pinegrass (Calamagrostis rubescens) grows in forests under pine trees (hence, its name). All the ungulates dine on pinegrass and so do the bears, in the spring.