Oranges in Idaho?

The very first designated state wildflower is the Syringa (Philidelphus lewisii) known in the Northwest and Idaho as Mock Orange or Arrowwood. I first encountered the Syringa while walking along a Wyoming creek in search of Rainbow Trout. I caught a few Rainbows and added several Cutthroat Trout to my creel the same day.

The Mock Orange in its native habitat -trout stream and all.

The orangy perfume fragrance that permeated the bright morning air was at times overwhelming. I located the source on a small rise overlooking the creek as a six foot tall bush covered with four petal white blooms. Here was the Syringa.

The Mock Orange, Arrowwood, or Syringa.

The common name is misleading as Syringa is the Latin genus name for Lilac and there is no relation or similarity. Captain Meriweater Lewis named the Mock Orange on his famous expedition to the Northwest in the early 19th century. Of course, the Native Americans already knew the plant and used the tough wood for arrows and they also knew not to eat flowers, leaves, or berries as they are poisonous to humans but not to elk or deer as they love it! Full of contradictions is Idaho’s state wildflower! It is a very simple blossom – four petals, white, a dozen or so yellow stamens but the main attraction is the heavenly scent. Mant people have planted it next to their back door wishing later they had put it further away from the house as it is an intoxicating odor – not unpleasant at all – just strong! I may try a bush or two next Spring for the novelty of having something different but the attraction to deer might be its downfall as I have several herds roaming the area in addition to families of skunks.

In mid-summer in the Rocky Mountains or its foothills, there are several scattered floral neighbors worth mentioning. We have already met the Colorado Blue Columbine but not yet the Indian Painbrush which is the state flower of Wyoming (a future article).

The Indian Paintbrush – one of my favorite wildflowers!
The Sego Lily is a companion to the Syringa although blooming slightly earlier.
The more I see of the Syringa – the more I like it!

Now we are off to our next alphabetical state – Illinois – where the state flower is…

Oops! The state amphibian is the Tiger Sallamander but what is the state wildflower??

1 thought on “Oranges in Idaho?

  1. I didn’t know that there are state amphibians!!!


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