Random Plant: Mule-ears

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Mule-ears photographed 05/19/2016 at Great Basin National Park, Nevada.

Mule-ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis, Asteraceae) are relatively conspicuous herbaceous plants found throughout much of the western United States. These sunflower relatives feature long, broad leaves that resemble mule ears as well as numerous large yellow flower heads. They inhabit the intermountain west and are most common among sagebrush, meadows, grasslands, and open forests. Although these perennials tolerate relatively low amounts of moisture, they do best in mesic environments with plenty of sunshine. Under ideal growing conditions they can form dense stands, outcompeting other plants in the immediate area.

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Mule-ears photographed 05/19/2016 at Great Basin National Park, Nevada.

Leafy growth first appears as early as March and can be an important early-season food source for large grazing mammals. Flowers are produced from about April through June, and many large mammals find them to be particularly attractive treats. From July onward most of these plants largely dry up, making them uninteresting to foraging animals.

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Mule-ears photographed 05/19/2016 at Great Basin National Park, Nevada.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, National Parks, Organism Interactions, Random Plant and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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