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Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park

Today's photograph was contributed by Justin of St. Paul, Minnesota (aka teerlinck@Flickr) through the BPotD Flickr Group Pool. The original image is slightly larger, if you'd like to check it out. Thanks for sharing, Justin!

Justin has titled this photograph, “Sego Lilies and Grass in the Badlands”. I think I recognize the grass, but I can't recall its name. There is a grass expert who reads BPotD, so maybe he'll chime in with an identification, unless someone else names it first. The resources I have available to me for grass ID aren't useful, since they don't document the grass at this development stage. As for the sego lilies, not enough details are given to positively identify them either, though I'm fairly certain they are one of Calochortus nuttallii or Calochortus gunnisonii.

As mentioned on the main page of the Badlands National Park web site, the region is extremely important in the understanding of mammalian evolution. It is rich in vertebrate fossils from the Oligocene, the epoch that saw the ancestors of modern mammals rise to dominance among vertebrates. Plant fossils are found, too, though the Denver Museum of Nature and Science suggests that locating plant fossils requires a bit more physical work: Follow a Plant Fossil.

On an opinionated note, I'm pleased to see that the Badland National Park's home page has not been subject to politicization (unlike the main page of a different well-known park famous in understanding geological history).

Environment resource link: Wetlands of International Importance via the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands site. The link contains photographs (of varying quality) and commentary from wetlands around the world – I particularly enjoyed the pages for Laguna Brava (Argentina) and Lac Tsimantampetsotsa, Madagascar.


The grass is the non-native Bromus japonicus (Japanese brome). It is an annual.

If the site you mention is the one I looked at,I don't think "politicized" is the right word--more like marketing spin written by someone who doesn't understand the geology and "fluffs" the piece to disguise it. (Something I see all the time in my work as a technical writing consultant.)

Thanks, Sara!

Katherine, perhaps. I've sent it along to someone who is far more informed than I am on the matters I'm alluding to. Perhaps he'll give a look at it, if he has time.

Could you share an address to go to or elucidate the mysterious comment?

Sure, there's a good discussion going on about it on one of my daily reads, Pharyngula - a lot of excellent comments, including some quite persuasively on the side of Katherine's take on the matter.

The grass reminds me of another species in the same Genera, Bromus tectorum which dominates a lot of landscape in the interior West. The seedheads also look, almost predatory. Great photo

Thanks for publishing my photo. Sorry I wasn't able to offer more specific identification but it seems that somebody else took care of it.

It was much wetter than typical for that time of year (July) when we were there. The usually arid landscape was completely saturated. It was one big mud hole filled with flowers like ragwort, rose, sego lilies, thistles and prickly pear.

The interpretive center at the main entrance has some great slides of dried flowers with accompanying photosgraphs for identification, an excellent resource that we took full advantage of on a few mornings when it was too wet to hike.

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