You would think that scientists would know how many species occur in an area, especially one as well-populated as Cache County. But scientists at Utah State University just discovered two new species of wildflowers that only occur near Logan – and they think more are out there.
“Utah and California are the two areas in the lower 48 states that have the highest proportion of rare plants. In Utah, most of our rare plants are in the Canyonlands. It’s unusual to have so many rare things in a mountain canyon,” said Dr. Leila Shultz, a botanist who helped describe the two new species found in the area.
“So the Bear River Range, I have always felt, is a bit of a jewel in the crown of a state that’s fascinating for botanists. It’s been pretty well collected at this point but there’s a lot of things still out there yet to be discovered.”
One of the species, Mt. Naomi’s parsley, occurs on in the Bear River Range, the Wellsville Range and near Bloomington Lake. The other species, Holmgren’s owl's-clover, was found up Logan Canyon.
“The Mt. Naomi parsley is a little-matted plant. It has a white cluster of flowers a lot like a wild carrot, but it just grows snug along the ground. The owl's-clover is quite different. It’s in a family that has snapdragons in it, and it’s pink flowered. It’s a cute little thing, but very easy to overlook,” said Shultz.
Shultz had suspected these plants were unique to the Logan area for years, but only now has been able to prove it. The new discovery brings the total number of rare or endemic plants in the area to 13. Shultz said that you generally won’t harm these plants if you visit them, as long as you’re thoughtful and don’t step on them.