Wildflower Hunting in McGurk Meadow

July 14, 2013
McGurk Meadow
Total distance:  4 miles

It was a cool Sunday morning in Yosemite National Park. The sun shone brightly as I followed the dirt path downhill away from the noisy road.

Trailhead sign on Glacier Point Road.

Trailhead sign on Glacier Point Road.

The forest was alive with sound: dead trees creaked when the warm breeze blew; birds busy with morning chores chirped loudly; squirrels chattered and bothersome mosquitoes buzzed about.  The cacophony of air traffic high in the sky was an unwelcome interruption to nature’s music.

I came upon a cabin tucked between the trees near a tributary of Bridalveil Creek.  Back in 1895, Jack McGurk—for whom the meadow was named—owned the area for a couple of years.  His one room log cabin still sits as a relic from the past.

McGurk's Cabin

McGurk’s cabin.

The trail leveled off and led through the meadow filled with colorful wildflowers, my reason for being there. Like a butterfly, I mosied from flower to flower examining each unique beauty.

The trail passed in and out of the forest.

The trail passed in and out of the forest.

Many of the common Yosemite flowers grew prolifically throughout the meadow: yarrow, lupine and daisies .

Yarrow.  Native Americans used yarrow to cure toothaches, headaches and stomachaches.

Yarrow was used by Native Americans to cure toothaches, headaches and stomach aches.

Brewer's lupine.  There are over 80 species of lupine in California.

Brewer’s lupine. There are over 80 species of lupine in California.

Wandering Daisy, a very common flower in Yosemite.

Wandering daisy, a very common flower in Yosemite.

I saw two species of paintbrush, several flowers in the lily family and two types of larkspur.

Indian paintbrush.  Hummingbirds love these flowers.

Indian paintbrush. Hummingbirds love these flowers.

Thompson's Indian paintbrush.

Thompson’s Indian paintbrush.

Corn Lily stalk.  There were many corn lily plants, but not many with flowers.  Conditions have to be just right for them to bloom.

Corn lily stalk. There were many corn lily plants, but not many with flowers. Conditions have to be just right for them to bloom.

Mariposa lily.  Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish.

Mariposa lily. Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish.

Leopard lily, cousin to the tiger lily.

Leopard lily, cousin to the tiger lily.

Tower larkspur.  This flower was called "sleep-root" since Indians used its juice to dull the senses of an opponet during games.

Tower larkspur. This flower was called “sleep-root” since Indians used its juice to dull the senses of an opponet during games.

Larkspur.  This resembles the tower larkspur in color and shape but it is shorter.

Larkspur. This resembles the tower larkspur in color and shape but it is shorter.

Brightening the trail were columbine, geranium, sneezeweed and many others that made my heart sing with joy at the sight of them.

Crimson columbine.  Native American tribes used it medicinally.

Crimson columbine. Native American tribes used it medicinally.

Wild geranium, a cousin to the common yard geranium.

Wild geranium, a cousin to the common yard geranium.

Bigelow's sneezeweed.  Early settlers crushed the flowers into a powder to sniff when they had head colds which made them sneeze.

Bigelow’s sneezeweed. When early settlers had head colds, they crushed the flowers into a powder to sniff which made them sneeze.

Cow parsnip.  Yosemite Indians used this plant for food by peeling the stalk and cooking the tender center.

Cow parsnip. Yosemite Indians used this plant for food by peeling the stalk and cooking the tender center.

Meadow goldenrod.  This was used by early miners as a divining rod to find water.

Meadow goldenrod. This was used by early miners as a divining rod to find water.

Mountain pennyroyal is a member of the mint family.  Early settlers used it as a tea for colds.

Mountain pennyroyal is a member of the mint family. Early settlers used it as a tea for colds.

Cinquefoil.  Some species were used medicinally.

Cinquefoil. Some species were used medicinally.

Meadow penstemon.  Penstemons are common throughout Yosemite and are hard to distinguish between species.

Meadow penstemon. Penstemons are plentiful throughout Yosemite.

Arrowleaf groundsel.  Some species of this plant, if eaten by animals, is deadly.

Arrowleaf groundsel. Some species of this plant, if eaten by animals, is deadly.

It was a fun morning spent wildflower hunting through the colorful McGurk Meadow.

21 thoughts on “Wildflower Hunting in McGurk Meadow

  1. Sheryl

    Beautiful–It’s amazing how many different types of flowers were blooming in the meadow. It also struck me that many of the flowers that are wildflowers in California, are flowers that I plant and carefully cultivate in my garden–lupine, columbine, leopard lily, larkspur, “wild” geranium, daisy.

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    1. Janet Post author

      That’s funny how things are different in other parts of the country. I sometimes think the things we call weeds, were actually what people thought of as flowers hundreds of years ago.

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  2. google.com

    I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing
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    1. Dad

      I just looked at the blog after reading about the problem with text running off the screen. I’m not having any problem. Everything looks normal to me.
      Dad

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