The Snake River, which lies about ten miles south of town and about a thousand feet lower in elevation, is where I go each winter to look for spring. As a sign of spring, I seek the first flowers of native plants.
On a broad, south-facing shoulder of land that curves down
to the Snake at Wawawai, among the stones and wiry branches of small shrubs, I
found a week ago the flowers of Lomatium
gormanii, known commonly as salt and pepper or Gorman’s lomatium, had
emerged. I walked hunched over to
look among the low clumps of vegetation and saw perhaps a few dozen plants of
the lomatium in flower. No
other native species were yet in flower on the patch of land I examined.
The umbels of the Gorman’s lomatium had probably emerged
only a few days earlier. Most of
the flowers were still tightly clustered, although several flowers of each
umbel were “open”—that is, their petals and stamens had expanded. Anthers of the extended stamens had
dehisced and held clumps of white pollen.
Flowers still in the process of opening held their reddish anthers just
within the spreading globe of white petals.