I have only 3 cool things to share this week, as I have been very busy with final preparations for a lengthy road trip that kicks off today. Watch this blog for road trip updates and please subscribe if you don’t want to miss a post!
Now…. on to the cool stuff.
360° Tour: The “Devil’s Pool” at Victoria Falls
With apologies to anyone reading this who doesn’t have access to Facebook, below is a link to an absolutely amazing 360° interactive video of Victoria Falls posted by National Geographic on their Facebook page earlier this week. Try clicking and dragging to get the full effect of this really cool 360° video technology.
I’ve flown over Greenland on the way to somewhere else a few times and it totally fascinates me. Maybe one day I’ll actually GO there. This is a short video by a couple who made their Greenland dream come true.
Today I’m going to try out a new and at least semi-regular feature on my blog called Cool Stuff I Found This Week. I will make every effort to provide photography-related cool stuff; however, do expect some other random cool stuff such as cool cat or chicken stuff to sneak in from time to time.
Timelapse photographer Nao Tharp unexpectedly captures an exploding meteoroid on film.
Baby chicken snuggles with cat.
Cat and chicken in ONE video!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Horsetail Falls Firefall
I posted this one on my Facebook page earlier this week, but here it is again in case you didn’t see it. Incredible!
Happy first day of spring!! Today might not actually be the first day of spring where you live, but, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, spring officially begins here in Colorado tonight at 10:30pm (MDT). Did you know that this is the earliest spring since 1896??!!
The final flower in our Countdown to Spring 2016 series is the Wild Iris (Iris missouriensis), aka Rocky Mountain iris or western blue flag. The gorgeous bluish-purple (and occasionally white) blooms of the Wild Iris can generally be found in large colonies in the meadows of Colorado’s foothills to montane zones.
North Fork Trail – Big Thompson River
North Fork Trail – Big Thompson River
The roasted seeds of the Wild Iris are supposed to be an adequate substitute for coffee, but in general, this plant should not be ingested due to its toxicity. Historically, the Wild Iris has been used quite extensively in folk medicine, primarily to treat skin problems. The ground up roots of this plant have been used to make arrow poison.
Roxborough State Park
That’s it for the Countdown to Spring 2016 series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!
The Yellow Salsify (Tragopogon dubius),aka western goat’s-beard and wild oysterplant,is a pretty and quite common flower that can easily be mistaken for a jumbo dandelion. It is an introduced species in the U.S. and has spread to nearly all of the lower 48 states.
The roots of this plant are edible, although this is NOT the same salsify species whose roots are starting to show up regularly in farmer’s markets and health food store produce sections in the U.S.
Salsify, with its abundance of pollen, is a favorite among bees.
When finished flowering, the Yellow Salsify forms a seed head similar to that of the dandelion, but is much larger.
Colorado boasts 33 native species of orchid and Spotted Coralroot Orchid (Corallorhiza maculata) is one of more common species. The coral-like rhizomes of this orchid feed off a fungus that is itself parasitic. The plant does not produce its own chlorophyll and therefore has a rusty brown coloring that makes the Spotted Coralroot Orchid sometimes difficult to find among the detritus of the forest floor. Only upon close inspection are the small, interesting flowers revealed.
Ouzel Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park
Flowers of the Spotted Coralroot Orchid have 3 petals – 2 side petals that are the same color as the rust-colored stem and a lip petal that is bright white with purplish spots.
The gentian family is one of my favorites and Green Gentian (Frasera speciosa), aka Elkweed, Deer’s Ears, or Monument Plant, is one of the more unusual gentians.
Green Gentians grow in dry, open meadows on tall stalks that can reach up to to 8 feet tall. Up to 600 flowers can grow on a single stalk. Like the Old Man of the Mountain mentioned yesterday, Green Gentian is monocarpic, meaning that an individual Green Gentian plant blooms only once in its lifetime and then dies.
The roots of the Green Gentian are edible, but only in moderation.
The very large, east-facing flower heads of the Alpine Sunflower (hymenoxys grandiflora), aka Old Man of the Mountain, are quite conspicuous on the rocky, windswept tundra above treeline in the highest areas of Colorado’s alpine zone.
This plant grows for up to 15 years without flowering, flowers once, and then dies. This characteristic is called “monocarpic.”
As its name suggests, the Marsh Marigold (caltha leptosepala) proliferates in wet meadow areas of Colorado’s subalpine and alpine zones. Like all members of the buttercup family, the Marsh Marigold contains a toxin called protoanemonin. However, if cooked thoroughly, many parts of the plant are edible.
The deep blue to purple blossoms of Monkshood (aconitum columbianum) are interesting and beautiful; however, all parts of this plant are quite deadly so be sure to admire them from afar. The tall, spindly plant, a member of the buttercup family, can be found rooted in wet areas in the montane to alpine zones of Colorado and several other western states.
Monkshood can also occasionally be found with creamy white flowers.