Field collecting in northern Idaho

by Jon Hetman, Director of External Relations & Communications
September 3, 2015

Field collecting in northern Idaho


To populate the Living Collections with plants sourced from the wild (a key attribute for research and conservation value), the Arnold Arboretum participates in collecting trips both domestically and internationally. Gathered from state parks, national forests, and occasionally under agreement on private lands, collected seeds are sent back to the Arboretum to be propagated and tested for hardiness. New plants grow in our Dana Greenhouses and nurseries until they are large enough and strong enough to be planted on the grounds.

Northern Idaho Expedition - collecting Salix exigua

2015 Northern Idaho Expedition – collecting Salix exigua along Priest River

The Arnold Arboretum’s manager of plant records, Kyle Port, is currently on expedition in northern Idaho, seeking species for the Arboretum as one of two inaugural trip in the Arboretum’s Campaign for the Living Collections. Fall is an excellent time for seed collecting–in fact, we often collect seeds from our own collections in fall to re-propagate plants in decline due to the rigors of age, pests and disease, or the elements. However, due to the extensive forest fires that are damaging and closing off certain areas of Idaho’s forests, Kyle and his fellow collectors have had to remain flexible with their itinerary.

Kyle reported on August 25:

“Our Northern Idaho Expedition began at Farragut State Park on Lake Pend Oreille today (8/24). Lake Pend Oreille is the largest lake in Idaho with a marvelous glacial history. As we harvested snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) fruits, a breeze coaxed stubborn wildfire smoke from the southernmost point of Lake Pend Oreille, Button Hook Bay.”

And on August 27, Kyle wrote:

“Success! We collected ripe cones from Larix lyallii [alpine larch] above lower Roman Nose Lake. A 7′ Abies lasiocarpa [Rocky Mountain fir] with cones half shed was another exciting find. We’ll continue to collect at lower elevation around Bonners Ferry today. This weekend, [we] will botanize the rim of Hell’s Canyon and around Clarkia. We cancelled Elk City due to hazardous smoke conditions and extensive road closures.”

With good planning, good field botany, and good luck, Kyle and his companions will be able to read the landscape to find important species for the Arboretum’s collections. Some of the other plants Kyle has gathered on this trip include:

Cornus canadensis (Canadian bunchberry)

Linnaea borealis (twinflower)

Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca (Rocky Mountain Douglas fir)

Holodiscus discolor (oceanspray)

Chimaphila menziesii (little prince’s pine)

Acer glabrum var. douglasiii (Douglas maple)

Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine)

Philadelphus lewisii (Lewis’ mock-orange)

Ceanothus sanguineus (redstem ceanothus)

Salix lasiandra var. caudate (greenleaf willow)

Salix sitchensis (sitka willow)

Salix exigua (narrowleaf willow)



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