This week members of the Vegetation Crew, Monitoring Crew, and the Elk and Vegetation Management Plan (EVMP) Crew attended a Plant Identification Training. Colorado State University Herbarium Collections Manager and author of Colorado Flora, Jennifer Ackerfield, lead the training. For many of the attendees, this training acted more like a refresher, reinforcing previous knowledge and classes. For those who have only high school biology to help them with identifying plants, it felt like a dense crash course. I fall into the second category of students.
While at first overwhelmed with the amount of flora within Rocky Mountain National Park, with Jennifer’s patience and infectious enthusiasm for plants, I quickly found myself sucked into the world of scientific and common names and the complex understanding and interpretations of plant families. By the end of the day, I found myself an amateur botanist, ready to tackle the dichotomous key and lug her five-pound book with me out into the field. Learning more about the plants we work with on a daily basis has helped strengthen my appreciation for the work the Veg Crew does and gives me a deeper respect for the ecology and densely complex nature of nature.
(Plant Pictured: Fairyslipper, Scientific Name: Calypso Bulbosa, Family: Orchidaceae, Habitat: Moist, montane, coniferous forests)