Photographs by Michael Charters

Ever since I learned that Tom Chester had made between 20 and 30 trips to the Grand Canyon and tries to make at least one trip every year there, it has been in the back of my mind that I would like to join him on one of his excursions. After our trips to Death Valley earlier in the spring, I decided that this was the year. The last time I was at the Grand Canyon was on my honeymoon in 1980. Back then we flew into the canyon on a small tourist flight, something that I vowed never to do again. Before that I had made several visits driving out west from Virginia and had hiked down to the river from both North and South Rims. But back then I wasn't interested in flora and I don't recall paying any attention to it whatsoever. My wife was going to accompany me on this trip but two hours before leaving on Monday the tank on our water heater sprung a leak and began flooding the basement so she wasn't able to go. Tom, Nancy Accola and I met in Kingman, Arizona, where we spent the night. We botanized at a couple of locations en route to the Grand Canyon, most notably in the Kaibab National Forest just north of Williams, then got to the Grand Canyon Tuesday afternoon where we met Kate Harper to botanize part of the Bright Angel Trail. On Wednesday we spent the whole day on the Hermit Trail accompanied by seven Grand Canyon employees and interns who have been working on various vegetation projects and programs. I was especially pleased that we were joined by Lori Mackerick, Vegetation Program Manager at the Grand Canyon, and co-author of the beautifully prepared volume River and Desert Plants of the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the most fantastic places on the planet, and that is no small or undeserved claim. By a happy coincidence this week was the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service. This gallery includes photographs taken at the Grand Canyon itself. Those taken in a number of other Arizona areas such as the Prescott and Kaibab National Forests and further south along the roads going down to Interstate 10 will be displayed in a second gallery. In addition to Tom's usual excellent guidance and knowledge based on many previous trips, I utilized Lori Mackerick's book, Anne Orth Epple's Plants of Arizona, the Plant List compiled and put online by the Arizona Native Plant Society, and the webpages of the Arizona-New Mexico chapter of SEINet (Southwestern Environmental Information Network). Tom has plant guides to both the Bright Angel Trail and the Hermit Trail, as well as other online pages for the Grand Canyon. An asterisk next to the common name indicates a non-native species.

Beautiful aster
Eurybia pulchra

Apache plume
Fallugia paradoxa

[Named for Italian botanist Abbot Virgilio Fallugi, 1627-1707]

Arizona thistle
Cirsium arizonicum var. nidulum
Banana yucca
Yucca baccata

Wright's thelypody
Thelypodium wrightii

[Named for botanical collector Charles Wright, 1811-1885]

Basin butterweed
Packera multilobata

[Named for English botanist John George Packer, 1929-2019]

Wholeleaf paintbrush
Castilleja integra

[Named for Spanish botanist Domingo Castillejo Muñoz, 1744-1793]

Trumpet gooseberry
Ribes leptanthum
Beaked penstemon
Penstemon rostriflorus

Virgin's bower
Clematis ligusticifolia

Arizona hymenoxys
Tetraneuris acaulis var. arizonica

Utah fendlerbush
Fendlerella utahensis

[Named for German plant collector Augustus Fendler, 1813-1883]


Copyright © 2022 by Michael L. Charters.
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