tumblr_o5w67gscki1tmun60o1_1280

Umbilicaria americana “American Rock Tripe”

March 26, 2016
Blodgett Canyon, Lolo National Forest, MT
Robert Niese

This species of rock tripe is likely our most abundant umbilicate foliose, rock-like lichen in the PNW. Look for their single umbilicus which attaches them to their substrate (which is where they get their genus name!). This species rarely has apothecia but is instead identified by its abundant, sooty, black rhizines, or rootlets, which help it gather water from its normally dry habitat. Members of Umbilicaria are considered edible, though North American foragers generally only resort to them as famine food. Their name, “rock tripe,” comes from an uncanny resemblance to tripe (stomach lining) upon being boiled, as is common in many Asian cuisines.

tumblr_o5w8auf7ap1tmun60o1_1280

Salix “Willow” Salicaceae

March 26, 2016
Blodgett Canyon, Lolo National Forest, MT
Robert Niese

Willows bear their reproductive parts in separate male and female catkins each on separate plants. This particular plant is male and is only just beginning to bloom. Unfortunately, without female structures or leaves, this individual is impossible to identify beyond its genus. Identifying willows is generally straightforward, you just need all the correct structures in front of you and a good key to follow. Many consider willow identification to be a skill reserved for “Master Botanists” but it’s a fun exercise for anyone interested in botany and possessing a rudimentary background in dichotomous keying! Consider it a challenge!