A Trip to Utah, USA

For two weeks in October, 2015 I was able to take a short holiday in Utah, USA. Being very late in the season, I wasn’t able to see any Primula in flower but I did see plants in seed. According to the Flora of North America, Primula species that grow in Utah include Primula parryi, Primula cusickiana var. maguirei, Primula cusickiana var domensis, Primula specuicola and Primula incana.

 Wet Seepages in Zion
Dodecatheon pulchellum var. zionense
While in Zion National Park, we hiked to several places where there were wet, cool seepages that provided a unique habitat for plants unable to withstand the hot dry environment that dominates the Utah summer. One plant that caught my eye was a Primula-like species that had large green leaves and unmistakable Primula seed capsules. Not having a wildflower identification book with me, it wasn’t until I was able to consult information at the visitor’s center that I found out this was Dodecatheon pulchellum var. zionense. Without the telltale flowers to indicate a Dodecatheon, I was very struck with how very Primula like this species was and perhaps now I am more convinced of the results of genetic testing that indicates that the Genus Dodecatheon should be part of the Genus Primula. If so, the new name is Primula pauciflora var. zionensis.

Primula specuicola
Several days later, I had a short time in the Moab area and was able to visit a known location for Primula specuicola. This is a truly lovely species that is copiously covered in white farina that contrasts nicely with the purple-pink umbels of relatively large flowers. This species grows in exactly the same type of wet seepages that I had seen in Zion supporting Dodecatheon pulchellum. Again the similarity of environmental preferences between the Dodecatheons and Primulas in this area was evident.


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