Everyone was enthusiastic despite the dismal weather as we met with Dr. Leigh Johnson to go looking for wildflowers. After a brief explanation of flower anatomy and plant presses we loaded the vans and departed for Rock Canyon. We found our first wildflowers before we even left the parking lot. They were identified as a “LPFs” or “little purple flowers” which upon closer inspection turned out to be Musk Mustard from the Brassicaceae family. As we started walking down the trail Dr. Johnson was able to tell us lots of interesting things about the plants we saw. Using our hand lenses we were able to count the number of sepals, petals, and stamens. Dr. Johnson brought along some field guides and plant keys to help us learn to identify the plants we found. He also taught us some good characteristics for identifying plant families, such as Brassicaceae (mustards) always have 4 petals in the shape of a cross, and Boraginaceae have a flowering stock that curls up in a scorpoid shape. By the time we circled back to the parking lot we were wet, but everyone agreed that it was worth it!
Melissa, Museum Educator