Physocarpus malvaceus “Mallow Ninebark” Rosaceae

Mt. Sentinel, Lolo National Forest, MT
September 12, 2015
Robert Niese

Ninebark is one of those plants I only begin noticing in the fall when their leaves turn scarlet. In the summer they briefly bloom small white flowers, but their petals quickly drop, leaving behind a green-red calyx that is easy to overlook. Along with the fact that these rosaceous plants don’t produce edible fruits (dry follicles, as you can see here), Physocarpus is a very underappreciated member of our dry Ponderosa Pine forests. But it plays a critical role in these fire-prone ecosystems and is a hardy pioneer species following all kinds of disturbances.

Geopyxis carbonaria “Goblet Fungus” Ascomycota

Lolo National Forest, Bitterroot Mountains, MT
March 18, 2015
Robert Niese

These adorable cup fungi are inordinately abundant in areas following fires. We counted more than a hundred in a single square meter on a hillside that had burned in 2013.