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Chicory's defensive compounds make a tasty hot drink

Compounds that evolve to discourage insect herbivores have caused ranchers, farmers and beverage lovers have moved chicory from continental Europe throughout the world.

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Pretty but odiferous miner's socks attract flies

By Jeff Mitton The name of bistort, one of our alpine wildflowers, is amusing. I am not referring to the Latin binomial (Polygonum {formerly Bistorta} bistortoides) nor “bistort,” a simple contraction of the former name of the Genus. “Miner’s socks” is the most distinctive and descriptive name and it tickles my humor. Miner’s socks are found in a […]

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Brilliant sumac keeps most herbivores at bay

By Jeff Mitton The eastern face of Flagstaff Mountain lights up each fall as clones of smooth sumac, Rhus glabra, turn brilliant red. Fall brings out the best in clonal species — quaking aspen, gambel oak, chokecherry and smooth dogwood. I hiked up the Flagstaff Mountain trail to get a closer look and found that […]

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Assertive camp robber earns its name

On a camping and photography trip to western Colorado, I rose before dawn to have coffee and set up for a shot of aspen at dawn. It was a glorious morning, so I kept going until noon, when I returned to camp for lunch.
Lunch was cheese and crackers, but as I started I remembered the beer in the cooler. That’s when the robber came.

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Sapsuckers draw a crowd eager for extra drops

Tapping in a tree attracted my attention; earlier that morning I had watched a three-toed woodpecker feeding, and I hoped this was another. But a red-naped sapsucker emerged from the trees to sit on a branch above me.

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