Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument

Plants

Jewel Cave National Monument encompasses 1275 acres of ponderosa pine forest and hosts a rich diversity of native plants. The Monument also contains many introduced non-native plant species. Controlling the spread of invasive exotic species is a primary objective of resource management at Jewel Cave.

Wildflowers

These are just a few of the native flowers that you might see while visiting Jewel Cave National Monument. To learn more, you can get a wildflower list from a ranger at the visitor center. Remember not to pick the wildflowers you find; leave them for others to enjoy!

Pasqueflower (Anemone patens) blooms in late March to early May and is the state flower of South Dakota. This flower is sometimes seen growing through the springtime snow.

Western salsify (Tragopogon dubius), also known as goatsbeard or yellow salsify, flowers in late May to July. It is zealously eaten by wildlife. When salsify gets ready to seed, it looks like a giant dandelion.

Gunnison's mariposa lily (Calochortus gunnisonii) is one of the many species of lily found at Jewel Cave National Monument. They flower in June to early August. The bulbs of this plant were used as food by the Cheyenne.

The pale-purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida var. angustifolia) was often used as an anesthetic by Native Americans. The roots or immature heads were chewed to suppress thirst as well. The flowers bloom in June through July.

Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is also known as horsemint or beebalm, and blooms in July through August. The leaves of wild bergamot were used by Native Americans in vapor treatments for colds.

Wavyleaf thistle (Cirsium undulatum) is one of the few native thistles at Jewel Cave National Monument. The flowers bloom in June through July, and attract many species of butterflies.

Exotic Plant Management

Invasive exotic plants such as Canada thistle and leafy spurge, if not controlled, can choke out native vegetation. Aggressively invasive non-native plants are known as "noxious weeds."

Jewel Cave National Monument uses an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to control noxious weeds. IPM includes manual / mechanical control (hand-pulling and cutting), chemical control (application of herbicides), and biocontrol (introducing insects which attack the plant).

Jewel Cave relies primarily on manual / mechanical methods to control exotic plants. Hand-pulling removes part of the root system and stresses the plant. Cutting prevents the plant from producing seed.

To prevent contamination of water inside the cave, herbicide chemicals cannot be used in most areas of the park. Biocontrol agents such as Apthona flea beetles are used to control leafy spurge, and have been quite successful where they have been released.