Category Archives: Plants

May Courses Still Open at Zion Canyon Field Institute

Zion Canyon Field Institute still has some great course offerings for the month of May. On May 13, ZCFI travels up the plateau to enjoy the Wildflowers of Kolob Canyons with instructor, Walt Fertig. We stay in Kolob the next week to learn the geology with Dr. Mark Colberg (Southern Utah University) in our Kolob Geology course. On May 20, and again on the 28th, we do an extended hike on Zion’s East Rim in Rim to Floor. And there’s more botany on May 21 with Walt Fertig in the Hanging Gardens of Zion. So, “Come Hike in Our Classroom.” All classes meet at the Zion Human History Museum on #1 Museum Drive in Zion National Park OR at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, 3752 E. Kolob Canyon Rd., New Harmony. Zion Canyon Field Institute is the educational arm of Zion Natural History Association and all classes are fee-based.  For more information or to register contact Michael Plyler (435 772 3264 or plyler.zcfi@ or visit our website and click on Field Institute.  

Posted in Local Events, Natural History, Plants, Uncategorized, Wildflowers, Wildlife, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Wildflower Fans Predict Bountiful Desert Blooms This Spring

I once heard Navajo culture characterizes summer’s thunderous, pounding, here-and-gone summer rains as the “male” rains, while winter’s softer, longer, more consistent rains are the “female” rains. I don’t know whether Navajos actually do talk or think about rain this way, but such characterizations make a lot of sense to me. While summer rains get all the press, with their ominous cumulus clouds and their brash flash-flood inducing comings and goings, winter rain is what nurtures and propogates our plants, animals (including homo sapiens). Just like a real momma. Winter in the desert carries a big question mark, and that question mark belongs to precipitation. How much will fall? When will it fall? Will it fall as water, or as snow? How much water we receive, and the quality of that receipt, is perhaps the most significant factor in the desert year. While the hot, hard, baked earth of summer can’t hope to absorb the torrential blasts of the monsoon season, winter’s supple, porous soils soak up the water it receives to feed the plants, animals, and water table for the remainder of the year. One of many special interest groups focused on winter precipitation is the “wildflower lobby”. These … Continue reading

Posted in Natural History, Plants, Seasonal, Weather & Climate, Wildflowers, Winter, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Wildflower Walk In Lower Pine Creek with Tom

Once again, Tom takes us for a floral stroll to see what’s blooming. In this autumnal edition, Tom shoots Big Rabbitbrush, Silver Sagebrush, Saltbush, and “some kinda” Fleabane, amongst others, as well as a few larger-than-life arthropods. Enjoy!

Posted in Autumn, Hiking, Natural History, Plants, Seasonal, Zion National Park | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Harvest Your Own Pine Nuts in Southern Utah!

We are all about adventure here at Zion Adventure Company, and what could be more adventurous than finding your own food? If you know me, I love to complement strenuous Zion activities like mountain biking, canyoneering, and rock climbing with good eating and cooking. And yes, even the desert gives a bountiful harvest this time of year. Autumn marks the Pinyon Pine harvest all over the Southwest U.S. (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico), and we have our very own Pinyons here in Zion. The Zion region is home to the world’s only single-needled pine, pinus monophylla, or simply the Single-leaf Pinyon. It grows from elevations of 4,000 feet to almost 9,000 feet and is found in the dominant Pinyon-Juniper “pygmy” forests in the mesas surrounding Zion. So how do you harvest pine nuts? Well, it definitely takes time and work, but I think it’s a very fun way to explore the forest. First, find an area with more pinyon pines than juniper trees. Pinyons tend to like higher elevations than junipers and often grow in groups. Pinyons start to “cone” in September and October, so you can harvest anytime in those months and sometimes even later in the year. The … Continue reading

Posted in Autumn, Food, Natural History, Plants, Seasonal | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments