Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/10/2015
Publication Date: 7/1/2015
Citation: Dugan, F.M. 2015. Palouse prairie - synaptic relics from a senior pseudo-botanist. Kelseya Newsletter of the Montana Native Plant Society Vol 28 No. 4, Summer 2015.
Interpretive Summary: The author shares childhood recollections of vegetation in a field of remnant vegetation just south of Missoula in the early 1950s, a time when Salish tribal people still encamped in south Missoua to dig bitterroot. Memories of that time, checked with reference to aerial photographs family photographs, regional histories, herbarium records and botanical literature from the 1920s through the 1960s, enables application of several species names to plants in the field and assignment of this vegetation to a specific association, "Palouse bunchgrass prairie." Results are compared to literature documenting utility of childhood memories of botanists in Europe. Literature on the Palouse bunchgrass prairie is provided. Conservation efforts are specified.
Technical Abstract: Historically, vegetation of the Missoula Valley prairie has been regarded as "Agropyron-Festuca community," otherwise described as "Palouse bunchgrass prairie" or just "Palouse prairie." Synecology of this association has been well described starting in the 1920s, however there is no description of synecology specific to the historical southeastern Missoula Valley, (the Pattee Creek floodplain) an area now nearly entirely urbanized. From literature, herbarium records and long-term memories of the author, the primary non-graminous plants are noted to have been Balsamorhiza sagittata, Lewisia rediviva, Mertensia oblongifolia, Ranunculus glaberrimus, Castilleja sp., Delphinium bicolor, Lupinus sericeus, Fritillaria pudica, Achillea millefolium, Geum triflorum, and plausibly Lomatium macrocarpum, Opuntia fragilis and Dodecatheon puberulum. Grasses were Pseudoroegneria spicata and various Festuca spp., such as F. idahoensis and F. scabrella.