The flora of Steens Mountain and the surrounding areas (Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Diamond Craters and the Alvord Desert) contains somewhere around a thousand different taxa of plants (a book about the flora covers 871 species; the list from the Washington Native Plant Society contains 1053 species). Considering the ecological diversity, the high number of taxa is not surprising.
The first photograph is taken from the summit, looking southeastward onto the Alvord Desert (from the same spot as yesterday’s Cirsium peckii photo). The summit stands over 1700m (5500 feet – or more than a mile) higher than the floor of the Alvord Desert which it dizzyingly overlooks. The western slope, however, is a gentle incline, taking about 25km (16mi) to ascend from the marshy Malheur area to the summit. As you ascend from the west, you pass through a number of vegetation zones: the marsh, sagebrush-grassland, juniper-pine forest, a second zone of sagebrush with poplar groves in moister areas, subalpine meadows and rocky alpine. The second photograph shows an area of transition between the sagebrush-grassland and the juniper-pine forest.