Plateau on the Radio: Episode 41 Plants of the Plateau with Sara Souther

Listen to Episode 41 HERE...

This week we focus in on the many plants of our region, specifically endemic and culturally sensitive plants.

Wildflowers in northern Arizona - photo by Lawrence Busch

As we all know the Colorado Plateau region is truly a special place, but one of the things that defines our area being so special is that we have the most endemic plants of any region in the US. And for those that might not know, endemic means that those species are found here and nowhere else. Some would argue that this fact is due to the huge size of the Colorado Plateau, spreading across four states and many sovereign tribal nations, but it is actually due to the environmental complexity that we have ranging from the alpine tundra to the high deserts as well as all the important stresses that these plants face in often harsh conditions, leading to the evolution of many new and distinct species. Biologists and other researchers have documented more than 3,000 vascular plants here on the Plateau, and of those 3,000 plants, 10% of them are endemic, and that is a very big number.

Sara Souther (NAU)
Our guest this week is plant ecologist and conservation biologist Sara Souther (Landscape Conservation Initiative), a truly wonderful person who is helping to launch the Tribal Nations Botanical Research Collaborative, a region wide inventory of the ten culturally sensitive plants that are out there. And this effort is really great because it relies on Citizen Scientists just like you to report data as you recreate and explore the forests of northern Arizona. By utilizing the iNaturalist app and taking photos you can help foragers from the tribes, scientists, and land managers better understand the ecology of these species as well as provide information on areas where sustainable harvesting can take place.

Sara and I also discuss her roots as a forager in West Virginia, the plight of the American Ginseng plant, and the importance of exploring the relationship between the plants and the people who utilize wild food, medicinal and culturally sensitive plants, and what that relationship can say about these communities themselves.

Also the mystery of the recent Juniper tree die-off all around the Plateau region, specific threats to endemic plants of our area, and local music by Sap Dabblers, Tha' Yoties, Sihasin and more!

Further Information and Reading:

Sara Souther's ResearchGate (links to research papers by the guest)

iNaturalist - Tribal Nations Botanical Research Collaborative

Further Information on Species mentioned by Sara Souther and the Host:

American Ginseng

Coyote Tobacco

Emory Oak

Blue Grama

Jones Cycladenia 

Kachina Daisy

Utah Juniper

One-seed Juniper

Plateau on the Radio: Episode 40 The San Francisco Peaks

Listen To or Download Episode 40 HERE...

The San Francisco Peaks - Photograph by Kate Graham

Join us this week as we celebrate the unique beauty of the San Francisco Peaks, in northern Arizona.
Our guest is author and ecologist Gwendolyn Waring, who recently put out a wonderful book titled 'The Natural History of the San Francisco Peaks', and this book is a thorough one, from the formation of the Peaks through multiple eruptions over several million years, to the Pleistocene era and the glacial impacts on the mountain itself, to many of the plants and animals and fungi that made their way to this isolated mountain island and somehow managed to survive. It is beautifully written, mixing science with love, and is a book that anyone could pick up and truly enjoy no matter what.

Gwendolyn shares some experiences on the San Francisco Peaks, discusses the adaptation that many species have made to survive in this often inhospitable environment, talks about the future of the peaks with climate change and mind, and so much more. A truly remarkable person, whose science and life experience on the Plateau and beyond is vast indeed.

Quaking Aspen off the 151 on the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks.
Photograph by Kate Graham.
Also, a spotlight on the Quaking Aspen, the San Francisco Peaks Groundsel, and we share the voices of the Star School students and staff, an off the grid charter school in Northern Arizona, who created a film titled 'Dook'o'oosliid' all about their connection to the sacred San Francisco Peaks.

And for High Desert Jamboree we play some mountain music for you, and hear some memories of the Peaks by resident forager of This is the Colorado Plateau; Ashley Doyle, and local photographer Kate Graham.

The San Francisco Peaks as viewed from the high desert of the
volcanic field. Photograph by Frank Schively.
Further Information and Reading:

A Natural History of the Intermountain West by Gwendolyn Waring

Doo'ko'oosliid - Short Film by the middle school students of the Star School

Species mentioned by Gwendylon Waring and the host:

San Francisco Peaks Groundsel - Packera franciscana

Corkbark Fir - Abies lasiocarpa var. arizonica

Limber PinePinus flexilis

Southwestern White Pine - Pinus strobiformis

Quaking AspenPopulus tremuloides

American Pipit

Clark's Nutcracker

American Three-toed Woodpecker

Mexican Spotted Owl

Red Squirrel

Plateau on the Radio: Episode 39 Plateau Foraging with Ashley Doyle

Listen to Episode 39 HERE...

Join guest host, nutritionist and forager Ashley Doyle for another episode all about delicious food and great ways to forage your own fridge during the cold months. Ashley discusses ways for us all to get geared-up for the upcoming Spring foraging season, choosing the best field guides for your region, and the properties of herbs when utilizing them for different medicines. Also a great interview with urban farmer Summer White about Roots Micro Farm here in Flagstaff, AZ, about being part of the community, and about growing micro-greens in your own home as a great way to get fresh greens during the winter. All that and more with music by hvnnibeat$ out of Flagstaff and Namaste Humble from Brooklyn, NY.

Roots Micro Farm, a beautiful example of an urban farm in Flagstaff, AZ