Juniperus scopulorum “Rocky Mountain Juniper” Cupressaceae

Salmon-Challis National Forest, ID
March 19, 2015
Robert Niese

Recent genetic evidence suggests that the Puget Sound populations of Juniperus scopulorum are actually a separate species (J. maritimus), although the two are nearly impossible to distinguish morphologically. The berries of both species are not particularly palatable, but make a good laxative.

Nymphalis antiopa “Mourning Cloak” Nymphalidae

Salmon-Challis National Forest, ID
March 20, 2015
Robert Niese

Mourning Cloaks are very territorial butterflies and will aggressively defend their feeding sites against intruding insects and have even been known to chase off hummingbirds! Also, March is really early to be seeing these guys out and about. There are hardly any flowers blooming that early!

Opuntia polyacantha “Plains Prickly Pear” Cactaceae

Salmon-Challis National Forest, ID
March 19, 2015
Robert Niese

Cacti are not really the kinds of plants I normally associate with the Pacific Northwest, but we have several species native to our area (two and some hybrids, really). They are commonly found in arid, open areas east of the Cascades, but can also be found on many of the islands throughout the Salish Sea!