Plant of the Month
Location: Grid P23 West side of the gravel road, with several other newly planted, smaller trees
Subalpine Larch is a relatively rare relative of the much more common Western Larch (Larix occidentalis). The Subalpine species only lives at higher elevations, over 7500’ in Northern Idaho, and over 8,000 feet in Southern Idaho.
According to Dr. Frederic Johnson in his book Wild Trees of Idaho, Subalpine Larch only occurs in two places in Idaho that can be reached by road, Salmon Mountain on the Magruder Corridor in central Idaho and Roman Nose Lakes in Northern Idaho.
I drove the Magruder Corridor in August 2015 and was able to collect some cones from trees on Salmon Mountain. I gave the seeds to Don Regan, the greenhouse manager for the University of Idaho's Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research. He was able to get some of the seeds to germinate, and after three years they are big enough to move to their new home in the Arboretum.
In 2015 I also went on a seed collecting trip with Kyle Port from the Arnold Arboretum to Roman Nose Lakes. We were able to collect seeds but they were unable to get any to sprout.
The most visible new project in the Arboretum has been rebuilding the path at the top of the Arboretum connecting to Nez Perce Drive. We are hoping to accomplish two things with this project. The primary goal is to replace the old wood chip trail with compacted gravel that hopefully will provide a much better all-weather surface. The secondary goal is to see if the compacted gravel surface will remain solid and stable enough for wheelchairs. The slope on this path is definitely not accessible, but we are hoping to see how well the surface of a path that does not have vehicle traffic holds up over a winter.
Once we settle on a suitable surface, we hope to design and install an ADA compliant pathway starting at the barn and following the stream up the valley. A senior Civil Engineering class is taking that design challenge as part of their senior capstone project next semester.
A fun thing this month was going to Portland to pick up the second generation of grafts of the ‘Idaho Endurance’ Giant Sequoia. I went to Crowfoot Nursery, a small family owned nursery in Sandy, Oregon that specializes in Giant Sequoias and Coastal Redwoods. I picked up 28 one year old grafts of the ‘Idaho Endurance’ Giant Sequoia from the Shattuck Arboretum and I also picked up six new cultivars of Giant Sequoia, and they generously donated two ‘Steel Blue’ Coastal Redwoods, reportedly the hardiest clone of the coastal trees. We will find a protected spot in the Western North American section to try them next spring.
Arboretum Associates Annual Plant Sale
Saturday, May 18 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Rotary Ice Rink, Latah County Fairgrounds