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Danika Thiele

Danika Thiele is a Florida transplant, art enthusiast and environmental science writer. She worked previously as a food security and sanitation volunteer with Peace Corps Nepal. With her background in both agriculture and journalism, Danika combines her curiosity with the natural world to produce stories stemming from nature's peculiarities. You can catch Danika exploring the forest with her adventure partner, Dolly the supermutt.

  • Nestled within the shade of mixed-pine forests, freckled orchid flowers unfurl as small clusters on crimson stems. This is the lesser-known, native cousin to your orchid houseplant, called the spotted coralroot.
  • The San Francisco Peaks ragwort stands sentry over northern Arizona from its home on the San Francisco peaks. It grows close to the earth in unassuming, flat-topped clusters of blue-green leaves.
  • Northern Arizona is known for its roaming wildlife and the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest. This rugged, contrasting landscape beckons to species that need space to meander, yet many find themselves barricaded by the state’s cross-cutting interstates.
  • Cooler breezes crisp the air, as it shifts from the warmth of summer to the sharp invigoration of fall. Autumn is a season for the senses. The hues of stark crimsons and fiery oranges light up the hillsides, a cascading mix of nature’s brilliance.
  • Vast storm clouds wander the sky like roaming monoliths. Intense thunderstorms scour the desert and cool the land. Light shifts from piercing brilliance to dark and cataclysmic. Monsoon season is here. And with it, the plants and animals of the Colorado Plateau wake from slumber and come to life.
  • This summer nearly five thousand weevils were released in the Pipeline Fire burn scar north of Flagstaff. No larger than a fingernail, they have elephant-like snouts and a black, metallic-blue complexion. The weevils were released with one purpose in mind: to control populations of invasive Dalmatian toadflax.
  • Before it was vast ponderosa pine forest, northern Arizona was covered by a warm, shallow sea. Marine organisms resembling ancient clams, nautiluses, and corals thrived in its waters…and so did several dozen different kinds of sharks.
  • Lichens are the unsung heroes of the desert Southwest. Nearly a fifth of all known species of lichen in North America can be found in Arizona, from sky islands to the Sonoran Desert.
  • Northern Red-shafted Flickers have unmistakable wings dappled with dark brown stripes. Their silken bellies are bold displays of polka-dotted feathers, while their heads have the characteristic red dash of a woodpecker. Males can be identified by a black or red mustache-like stripe at the base of the beak.
  • Stinknet is true to its name: it’s a plant with an overwhelming and off-putting turpentine odor. Also known as Globe Chamomile, it has bright yellow flowers the shape of golf balls and carrot-like dark green leaves. It’s native to South Africa.