TORREYA TAXIFOLA - NORTH FLORIDA

Left from Rock Bluff on a dirt road to TORREYA STATE PARK, 15.5 m. on the Apalachicola River. This 520-acre park was named for the evergreen Torreya taxifola, rarest species of the genus Torreya, found here and for 10 miles south along the eastern bank of the river. Because of the unpleasant odor when bruised, the tree is known as ‘stinking cedar.’ Two other varieties grow in Japan and California, but both differ in size, leaves and color of fruit from the Florida tree, which rises in pyramidal form to a height of 40 feet.

Florida: A Guide to the Southernmost State (WPA, 1939) [Find it at a library near you.]

Torreya State Park is about an hour west of Tallahassee, the state’s capital in northwest Florida, where I currently live. The park opened in 1935, a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal, public work relief program. Its namesake, the Torreya taxifolia, or “gopher wood,” is a small coniferous tree that is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN). The numbers are staggering: “Before the start of the decline in the early 1950s, the population was estimated to have been more than 600,000 […] The current population is estimated to be between 500 and 600 trees.” Efforts to preserve and maintain the tree range from academic studies from conservation biologists [PDF] to a citizen biodiversity protection group who are “rewilding” the tree in and around Asheville, NC and other select locations.

The Florida Torreya is one of the many native Florida plants that are indigenous to the Big Bend—one of the the nation’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Many of the indigenous flora and fauna are endangered due to overdevelopment.

Guide Note: This dispatch was inspired by a personal project: an experiential auditory piece meant to invoke the physical and aural sensation of observing the T. taxifolia in its native landscape, the limestone hills of the Apalachicola River Basin, while it slowly disintegrates as a species. The author is collaborating with Josh Mason (Jacksonville) and Michael Diaz (Tallahassee). Photographs by Michael Diaz, images courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory project.

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Micah Vandegrift is a Floridian who has not once been to Miami. He fell into academic librarianship after finishing a degree in American and Florida Studies wherein he wrote a thesis on Gainesville’s post-punk music scene. His dream vacation is to take an airboat ride through the Everglades, stop off in Gibsonton, catch a show at Weeki Wachee Springs, camp in the Dry Tortugas National Park, hang out with the bison on Paynes Prairie, catch a flick at the Silver Moon Drive In,  walk the trees at the Myakka River Canopy, and finish the trip with an Dipped Cone at Del’s Freez in his hometown of Melbourne, FL. Micah can be discovered all around the web, mostly rousing rabble about librarianship in the digital age. Find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

LOCAL FLORA - PORTLAND, OREGON 

The woods of Oregon are a wonderland of overwhelming proportions. The eye, always drawn to the distant snow-capped peaks, sweeps over magnificent verdant blankets that cover the lower hills and spread back in tiers over higher hills and far up the mountainsides. From the heights, the forest far below is an undulating layer of dark green, sparkling with gem-like lakes and silvery streams, which stretches far off into a horizon serrated with the silhouette of distant trees. 

Oregon: End of the Trail (WPA, 1940)

Guide Notes:

1: Basil, Late Summer, Portland, OR.

2: Smoke Bush, Portland, OR.

3: Grasses, Portland, OR.

4: Houseplant, Portland, OR.

5: Japanese Maple, Autumn, Portland, OR. 

6: Weeds along the Columbia River, Portland, OR.

7: Trees along the Columbia, Portland, OR.

8: Branches, Portland, OR. 

9: Grasses, Sauvie Island, OR.

10: Tree, Vines and Fence, Portland, OR. 

All Images © Robert Pallesen, All Rights Reserved.

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Robert Pallesen is a fine art photographer currently living in Portland, OR. Pallesen’s work investigates the transient nature of the landscape and our relationship with it. His photographs are featured in the Humble Arts Foundation Collector’s Guide to Emerging Art Photography as well as Various Photographs, published by TV books. Pallesen’s work has been exhibited at Pushdot Studios, Newspace Center of Photography, San Francisco Camerawork, The New York Photo Festival, Pierro Gallery and CGR gallery in New York. His work is currently on view at The BlueSky Gallery in Portland as part of the Northwest Drawers program.

You can view more work by Robert Pallesen at his website and blog.

This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit. 

WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
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WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…
—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *
Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info

WILDFLOWERS OF SOUTHWEST COLORADO

The columbine, Colorado’s official flower, reaches perfection in the cool shade of tall aspens but is found from the lower foothills to timberline.  Its specific name coerulea means blue, but its sepals are sometimes purple, pale lavender, and even white…

—Colorado: A Guide to the Highest State (WPA, 1941)

Your out West Guide Amadee Ricketts takes account of Southwest Colorado flora for Field Assignment #2: Flora and Fauna:

In southwestern Colorado, as in other parts of the mountain west, flower varieties and seasons vary by altitude.  But from the valley floors to the high windy peaks, look for wildflowers in the spring (April to June, later at high elevations) and late summer, after monsoon rains.

* * *

Amadee Ricketts is an At-Large Guide to the West. She’s worked as a cemetery groundskeeper, a shoeshine valet, and a bill collector. More recently, she’s been a children’s librarian in five states. She takes a lot of pictures and lives near Durango, CO. You can see her photos at textless.tumblr.com.

DESERT FLORA - ARIZONA


The popular conception of Arizona is of a barren desert country, yet the flora ranges from the subtropical to the subalpine. Strange and unusual plant types are found from mountain peak to desert floor. … Even were it not for the myriad growth of flowers, the word “desert” as applied to Arizona would be misleading, for there are always green shrubs and cacti to add color and variety tot he landscape. Arizona leads in the number and diversity of cactus plants, and while most of them grow on the desert, some are found high on the mountains, surviving low temperatures.
—Arizona, A State Guide (WPA, 1940)

Arizona is far from a barren land of rock and sand. Russell Gossett sent in this beautiful view of the landscape for American Guide Week.
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Russell Gossett can be found on Tumblr at russmosis.tumblr.com and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/russmosis.
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DESERT FLORA - ARIZONA

The popular conception of Arizona is of a barren desert country, yet the flora ranges from the subtropical to the subalpine. Strange and unusual plant types are found from mountain peak to desert floor. … Even were it not for the myriad growth of flowers, the word “desert” as applied to Arizona would be misleading, for there are always green shrubs and cacti to add color and variety tot he landscape. Arizona leads in the number and diversity of cactus plants, and while most of them grow on the desert, some are found high on the mountains, surviving low temperatures.

Arizona, A State Guide (WPA, 1940)

Arizona is far from a barren land of rock and sand. Russell Gossett sent in this beautiful view of the landscape for American Guide Week.

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Russell Gossett can be found on Tumblr at russmosis.tumblr.com and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/russmosis.

FIDDLEHEAD FERNS - VERMONT

Of ferns, the highest class of flowerless plants, there are eighty-one distinct species in Vermont.

Vermont: A Guide to the Green Mountain State (WPA, 1937) 

Fiddleheads are the tightly curled fronds of a young Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Ostrich ferns grow wild from northeastern North America, across Europe, and into central Asia, but the fiddlehead is especially prized as a traditional delicacy in Vermont (where harvesting is a rite of spring). Until January of this year when a bill was introduced in the legislature naming kale the state vegetable of Vermont, the fiddlehead unofficially held the title.

From “Neighborhood Cooking,” published in 1993 by the East Barnard Community Club of East Barnard, Vermont, a recipe courtesy of Sabra Field:

Pick fiddleheads in early May on the sandy banks of a brook. Look for last year’s dry black “plume” to locate the new growth. Once the fronds begin to uncurl, they are “gone by.” You don’t need a knife, just use your fingers. Allow to dry a few hours. Shake in a lettuce basket to loosen brown outer “wrappers” and discard. Place in cottage cooker in large saucepan. Blanch and discard water. Add more water and steam until bright green and just tender. Toss with a little butter and lemon juice.

Other recommended preparations include triple blanching, then topping with cheese sauce. Under no circumstance should fiddleheads be eaten raw, as they can be quite tannic and bitter, even toxic, when undercooked.

They have been known to taste like wild asparagus with the crisp texture of a slightly undercooked brussel sprout. Some people from outside the region say they taste a bit like wet dirt.

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Tara Wray is the State Guide to Vermont. A photographer and award-winning documentary filmmaker (but mainly a mom of two-year-old identical twin sons), she is drawn to photography as a means to combat the otherwise general and fleeting nature of life. Follow her on Tumblr at Tara Wray Photography and find her portfolio site at tarawray.net. Also, see her chapbook, “Barnard People, Vol. 1, Photographs of Vermonters.”

RÍO GRANDE DEL NORTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEW MEXICO













Yucca, cactus, locoweed, vetch, wild gourd vines, purple verbena, bee balm, aster, chamiso and other wild flowers, including mallow and flowering grasses, give beauty to the foreground, while the hills and mountains in the distance make for greater loveliness, with sky and piling clouds over all.
— New Mexico, A Guide To the Colorful State (WPA, 1940)

On March 25, 2013, President Obama signed proclamations establishing five new national monuments, including two administered by the Bureau of Land Management:  the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington and the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.
The Río Grande del Norte National Monument includes ecosystems and vegetation that exhibit significant diversity. A large expanse of the monument encompasses a big-game corridor stretching between the San Juan Mountains in the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the east. The Río Grande provides habitat for fish such as the flathead chub and the Río Grande Cutthroat Trout, as well as for waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and coots.
Learn more about one of our newest monuments:  http://blm.gov/c2kd
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MyPublicLands is the official Tumblr of the Bureau of Land Management. Follow the next generation of BLMers as they share their experiences on the public lands. You can find them at mypubliclands.tumblr.com.
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RÍO GRANDE DEL NORTE NATIONAL MONUMENT, NEW MEXICO

Yucca, cactus, locoweed, vetch, wild gourd vines, purple verbena, bee balm, aster, chamiso and other wild flowers, including mallow and flowering grasses, give beauty to the foreground, while the hills and mountains in the distance make for greater loveliness, with sky and piling clouds over all.

New Mexico, A Guide To the Colorful State (WPA, 1940)

On March 25, 2013, President Obama signed proclamations establishing five new national monuments, including two administered by the Bureau of Land Management:  the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington and the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico.

The Río Grande del Norte National Monument includes ecosystems and vegetation that exhibit significant diversity. A large expanse of the monument encompasses a big-game corridor stretching between the San Juan Mountains in the west and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the east. The Río Grande provides habitat for fish such as the flathead chub and the Río Grande Cutthroat Trout, as well as for waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and coots.

Learn more about one of our newest monuments:  http://blm.gov/c2kd

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MyPublicLands is the official Tumblr of the Bureau of Land Management. Follow the next generation of BLMers as they share their experiences on the public lands. You can find them at mypubliclands.tumblr.com.

NEW GULF WILDS

Along Mississippi’s coastal highway 90, where over seven years ago the Gulf of Mexico rose up and wrecked almost everything in its path, there are pockets where nature is making a bigger comeback than civilization. Gardens have reseeded themselves in the foundations of home sites. Crepe myrtles, palms, lilies, vines and wildflowers volunteer among the ruins of once thriving neighborhoods. Marsh flora colonizes abandoned swimming pools. Thickets envelop tennis and basketball courts. It is a beautiful display of nature running wild, despite the bleakness of slow recovery.  

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Missy Prince is a Guide to the states of Mississippi and Oregon. She grew up in Mississippi but now calls Oregon home. She loves her Oregon, Washington, and Mississippi Gazetteer atlases and aims to visit every square mile they chart. When she is not out exploring with a camera she is dreaming of the highways, roads, and trails in her future. Follow her on Flickr and Tumblr at Sea of Empties.