Monday, April 18, 2011

Buttercup bloom along the Lower Thomas Creek Trail

Large displays of yellow buttercup assemblies can be found this April between the sagebrushes on both sides of the Lower Thomas Creek Trail south of Reno. This is where the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada change from forest into desert habitat and where the switch from a snow-covered into a sun-exposed sagebrush landscape happens without leaving much time for an ambient and mild spring environment.

The picture shoes a buttercup flower with five shiny yellow petals and many stamens and pistils. Most of the green leaves are three-lobed. The buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) includes various species with these features such as the desert buttercup (Ranunculus cymbalaria) and the sagebrush buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus). Faced with a genus of over 600 species, taxonomic classification is best left to the expert, a ranunculacologist I assume.

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