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Helping a Native of the Canyons: Macfarlane’s four-o-clock

At the end of May, a GHCC volunteer and I travelled down the lower Imnaha River canyon to help a threatened plant species. The mission was to dig up invasive weeds near the unique plant known as Macfarlane’s four-o-clock.

Macfarlane’s four-o-clock is an unusual plant. It only grows in Hells Canyon country, in the lower canyons of the Salmon, Snake and Imnaha Rivers. You will only find Macfarlane’s four-o-clock at an elevation near one to two thousand feet above sea level, and there are only thirteen known sites. Most of the known plants are within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

When you visit the canyons in May, you are greeted with the special shade of green that

seems reserved for the canyons in springtime. As we hiked down to a site where the Macfarlane’s four-o-clocks grow, the slopes were covered with the new growth of another year’s foliage. The flowers of the Macfarlane’s four-o-clocks were in bloom, and their rosy-purple blossoms appeared between clumps of bluebunch wheatgrass. Phlox and penstemon flowers were also in bloom, and a few prickly pear cactus poked out between the bunchgrasses.