Douglas Fir/Juniper Woodland

(9) Douglas Fir/Juniper Woodland Plant Community
with Shoshone Carrot
(Pseudopsuga menziesii/Juniperus scopulorum)
with (Shoshonea pulvinata)

Getting There»

PLANT LIST for Douglas Fir/Juniper Woodland Plant Community»

The Douglas fir/Rocky Mountain Juniper plant community occurs as a woodland, which is a forested area with very open canopy. Sunlight can easily reach the ground in most places so the understory plant species receive ample sunlight for photosynthesis. Shoshonea pulvinata, or Shoshone carrot, is a common cushion perennial on limestone on several of these woodland sites. Although Utah juniper is a common woodland tree on the south side of the Pryors, Rocky Mountain juniper is more likely to occur in open Douglas fir woodlands.

Shoshone carrot requires you to get close to appreciate its beauty. (photo, S. Durney) The mat forming characteristics of Shoshone carrot requires you to get close to appreciate its beauty. (photo, S. Durney)
Shoshone carrot is a mat-forming perennial with stems so short stems that the leaves appear to be basal. The green parsley-like leaves and vibrant yellow flowers are striking against the stony soils and limestone cliffs. Shoshone carrot occurs in small populations and are found in montane and lower subalpine Douglas fir woodlands. This species is an iconic plant species in Montana because it is a species of concern.» Its entire distribution is limited to Carbon County in Montana, and just a few populations in Wyoming.

Shoshone carrot can be found along cliffs and Douglas fir forests on the drive from Dry Head Vista south to Mystery Cave in the Pryor Mountains. We observed minimal disturbances to the populations, although increasing ORV use of the Sykes Ridge road and migration use of the area by feral horses are potential threats. All thirty-one species found among the plant community are native to Montana.

Howard’s alpine forget-me-not <i>(Eritrichium howardii)</i> (photo, S. Durney) Howard’s alpine forget-me-not (Eritrichium howardii) (photo, S. Durney)
The Mystery Cave populations of Shoshone are part of the South Pryor Mountains Important Plant Area (IPA). Lesica states that the population trend for Shoshonea pulvinata, the only plant for which there is monitoring data, is declining at the Mystery Cave populations. He lists threats as ORV use, trampling by livestock and horses, weed invasion, mineral exploration, and climate change.

We found that while it took us some time to find Shoshonea because its occurrences are so localized, once we stumbled on our first plant its unique shiny dark green herbage and bright yellow umbels of flowers were unmistakable and truly stood out among the limestone substrate. The best time to visit would be after the snow melts so late June to early July.

More information on the South Pryors IPA….

Return to the main Botanical Guide to Special Places in the Pryors.

Close-up of leaves of Shoshone carrot. (photo, S. Durney) Close-up of leaves of Shoshone carrot. (photo, S. Durney)

Close-up of the yellow flowers of Shoshone carrot. (photo, S. Durney) Close-up of the yellow flowers of Shoshone carrot. (photo, S. Durney)

Overview of the stony soils and distribution that Shoshone carrot grows in. (photo, S. Durney) Overview of the stony soils and distribution that Shoshone carrot grows in. (photo, S. Durney)

Typical Shoshone carrot habitat. (photo, S. Durney) Typical Shoshone carrot habitat. (photo, S. Durney)

Refer the printable Botanical Guide version of the Pryor Mountain Map Set.

Also download and print the Pryor Mountain Road Driving Directions.

Follow the Pryor Mountain Road (#2308) driving directions for 38.7 miles (from the turnoff from highway 310 south of Bridger MT) to Dry Head Vista (point “J”). There is no sign at Dryhead Vista, but there are several jackleg fence barricades to discourage driving on unauthorized tracks to the overlook. Please walk if you go.

From Dry Head Vista continue southeast on route #2308 for 2.9 miles to a junction. Continue straight ahead (southeast) on Sykes Ridge Road. Burnt Timber Ridge Road turns to the right (southwest).

Follow Sykes Ridge Road for 3.0 miles to the Douglas Fir/Juniper Woodland (and Shoshone Carrot) plant community (#9) which is on the right side of the road.

GPS Coordinates: N 45.1191°, W 108.3122°. Elevation: about 7,600 feet.

Important Notes:

A high clearance, 4WD vehicle is required to get to this plant community.

Warning: Do not drive farther down Sykes Ridge Rd., or more than a mile down Burnt Timber Ridge Rd. unless you have a rugged 4WD vehicle and are willing to drive it on very challenging roads.

The road above the Crooked Creek junction is seasonally closed until May 22. Beyond Dryhead Vista the road is seasonally closed until June 15. Depending on spring melt these closures are sometimes extended by the Forest Service.

Dry Head Vista is 8.4 miles from the Crooked Creek Rd junction, and 4.3 miles from Big Ice Cave. Sykes Ridge Rd. begins 7.2 miles from Big Ice Cave, and 11.3 miles from Crooked Creek Rd.

Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum)
Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis)
Douglas-Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)

Hood’s Phlox (Phlox hoodii)
Wax Currant (Ribes cereum)
Sticky Currant (Ribes viscosissimum)
Canada Buffaloberry (Shepherdia canadensis)
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum)
Pasque Flower or Prairie-crocus (Anemone patens)
Littleleaf or Rosy Pussytoes (Antennaria microphylla)
Timber or Weedy Milkvetch (Astragalus miser)
Rockcress (Boechera sp.)
Columbia Clematis (Clematis columbiana)
Few-Seeded Draba (Draba oligosperma)
Buff Fleabane (Erigeron ochroleucus)
Howard’s Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Eritrichium howardii)
Littleleaf Alumroot (Heuchera parvifolia)
Spiked Ipomopsis or Spicate Gilia (Ipomopsis spicata)
Nineleaf Biscuitroot (Lomatium triternatum)
Nuttall’s Sandwort (Minuartia nuttallii)
Rydberg’s Parsley or Sheathed Musineon (Musineon vaginatum)
Curved Bladderpod (Physaria curvipes)
Sheep Cinquefoil (Potentilla ovina)
Lanceleaf Stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum)
Woolly Groundsel (Senecio canus)
Shoshone Carrot (Shoshonea pulvinata)
Stemless Four-nerve-daisy or Stemless Hymenoxys (Tetraneuris acaulis)
Mountain or Meadow Death-Camas (Zigadenus venenosus)

Grasses and Sedges
Rock or Curly Sedge (Carex rupestris)
Spike-Fescue (Leucopoa kingii)

The phrase “species of concern” is used by the Montana Natural Heritage Program to refer to plant species that are rare or threatened to become rare by natural or human impacts and have declining numbers that could result in the loss of the species altogether.