Nature Notes

Vol. II July 9, 1924 No. 4


The characteristic flowers of the silver forest at this season of the year are the red fire-weed or Epilobium; the pearly everlasting and the Squaw or Indian basket-grass. This is one of our most beautiful flowers and quite as interesting as it is beautiful. Growing from a bunch of wiry grass is a plume of pure white standing from two to three feet high and made up of thousands of tiny white, sweet-smelling flowers. Earlier in the season it bloomed in the lower meadows and a little later it will be common in the high valleys. Late in the year it may still be found in bloom at timberline and above. The grass or leaf was, and still is, used by the local Indians in making some very wonderful baskets; baskets that will hold water and are used in cooking and so durable that I have seen specimens that were still in use after being handed down for three generations. They would still hold water and were made from nothing more than the leaf of the squaw grass. In various parts of the range it is known as bears-paw, turkey plume and elk-grass. Its scientific name is Xeryophyllum tenax.


Recently the Superintendent was asked if there were any big game animals in the Park. As luck would have it he was able to point out across the road a bear just passing by and the people left with the impression that wild life was very plentiful which is true although not everyone is as fortunate as were those visitors. Only about five percent of the Park is accessible to automobile travel and the birds and animals very much prefer the other ninety-five percent.

Still if one will keep on the lookout he can always find interesting animals. Along the road on July 4th when a thousand cars were passing, the Naturalist saw from an automobile between Longmire and Paradise two yearling elk, a black-tail doe, a brown bear cub, two hairy marmots and dozens of chipmunks, squirrels, and rock rabbits. In the evening at Paradise three large bears came up to the camp grounds to feed in spite of the fact that they were at times almost surrounded by people.

Bear can be seen any evening about dusk at the bear dumps below the public camp if one remains well back and does not disturb them.

Almost every evening of late there has been some thoughtless persons, who, wanting to show their bravery or desiring pictures have gone down to meet the bears and as a result keep them away, preventing others from getting even a glimpse. Please give the bears a chance to enjoy their supper and others a real chance to enjoy seeing the bears.

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