rocky mountains

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Nuphar polysepala is in the waterlily family Nymphaeaceae. Commonly known as Rocky Mountain pond-lily, it is native to western North America. The Rocky Mountain pond-lily is an aquatic species found in high altitude ponds and lakes in the many mountain ranges found in the western United States and Canada. It spreads by thick rhizomes that take root in the mud in the lake bottom. From the underwater rhizome, leaves and flower stalks emerge and float at the water surface. What look to be yellow petals on the flowers of the Rocky Mountain pond-lily are actually sepals; the petals in this species are highly reduced and embedded near the stamens on the inside of the flower. The seeds of this plant are edible, and were most commonly used for flour by indigenous people.

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It’s been a crazy few weeks – the perfect time to relax a bit on the top of a mountain range. Thanks to my friends over on NPR’s visuals team, you can! They’ve created a really beautiful virtual reality experience that you can easily explore on your desktop or phone.

Take a few minutes to look around - any direction you wish - and while you explore, you’ll hear Oregon State University professor Eric Kirby describe the fascinating geologic history of the Rockies.

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Aquilegia caerulea is in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Commonly known as Colorado Columbine, it is native to the Rocky Mountain Range from New Mexico to Idaho. This species is an herbaceous perennial found in a variety of alpine habitats such as in meadows and woodlands, as well as rocky outcroppings. The five white petals have long showy nectar spurs that extend far beyond the flowers. These petals are surrounded by 5 blue to lavender sepals that are generally larger than the petals. This species is also the state flower of Colorado, and there are many varieties available for use in home gardens and landscapes.

Offering a huge reward for little effort, Dream Lake is only a mile hike from Bear Lake Trailhead at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Winter conditions can add complications, but there’s nothing like sunrise painting the mountains to make you forget about the cold. Photo by Crystal Brindle (www.sharetheexperience.org).