\ Flora and fauna - Utah


Flora and fauna

Botanists have recognized more than 4,000 floral species in Utah's six major life zones. Common trees and shrubs include four species of pine and three of juniper; aspen, cottonwood, maple, hawthorn, and chokecherry also flourish, along with the Utah oak, Joshua tree, and blue spruce (the state tree). Among Utah's wildflowers are sweet William and Indian paintbrush; the sego lily is the state flower. In 2003, 24 plant species were classified as threatened or endangered in Utah, including five species (San Rafael, Siler pincushion, Wright fishhook, Uinta Basin hookless, and Winkler) of cactus, dwarf bear-poppy, five species (Shivwitz, Deseret, Holmgren, heliotrope, and Welsh's) of milk-vetch, and autumn buttercup.

Mule deer are the most common of Utah's large mammals; other mammals include pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, lynx, grizzly and black bears, and white- and black-tailed jackrabbits. Among native bird species are the great horned owl, plain titmouse, and water ouzel; the golden eagle and great white pelican are rare species; and the sea gull (the state bird) is a spring and summer visitor from the California coast. The pygmy rattler is found in southwest Utah, and the Mormon cricket is unique to the state.

In 2003, 23 animal species were listed as threatened or endangered in Utah. Among them were the bald eagle, Utah prairie dog, three species (bonytail, humpback, and Virgin River) chub, whooping crane, two species of sucker, southwestern willow flycatcher, and woundfin. Many birds and fish have been killed or imperiled by the inundation of freshwater marshes with salt water from the flooding Great Salt Lake.