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"Perserve, Protect, Enhance and Educate"

Botanical Society of ZooMontana

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"The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit"    - Saint Teresa of Avila

Originating over 10 miles north of Laurel, MT and northwest of the Canyon Creek Battlefield monument, the Canyon Creek waterway serves as a lifeline to the Yellowstone Arboretum and ZooMontana. As it winds through the grounds a visitor can experience nature it an almost untouched raw form. Wildlife thrives along it's banks as it nourishes life for many species of ducks, geese, sandhill crane, deer, antelope, coyotes, fox and rabbit. Trees and plants flourish as well. We've highlighted two of the most popular tree species, the Plains Cottonwood and Russian Olive, both of which can be seen along the banks as viewed from bridges along the pathways and the hill at Dottie's Garden.

Canyon Creek Trees

Yellowstone Arboretum Ecosystem

Russian Olive
Elaeagnus angustifolia

Elaeagnus angustifolia was described as Zizyphus cappadocica by John Gerard, and was grown by John Parkinson by 1633 and was also grown in Germany in 1736. It is now widely grown across southern and central Europe as a drought-resistant ornamental plant for its scented flowers, edible fruit, attractive yellow foliage, and black bark.

The species was introduced into North America in the late 19th century, and subsequently escaped cultivation, because its fruits, which seldom ripen in England, are relished by birds which disperse the seeds. Russian olive is considered to be an invasive species in many places in the United States because it thrives on poor soil, has low seedling mortality rates, matures in a few years, and outcompetes wild native vegetation. It often invades riparian habitats where overstory cottonwoods have died.

Plains Cottonwood
Populus deltoides

Populus deltoides is a large tree growing to 20–40 m (65–130 ft) tall and with a trunk up to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) diameter, one of the largest North American hardwood trees. The bark is silvery-white, smooth or lightly fissured when young, becoming dark gray and deeply fissured on old trees. The twigs are grayish-yellow and stout, with large triangular leaf scars. The winter buds are slender, pointed, 1–2 centimetres (1⁄2–3⁄4 in) long, yellowish brown, and resinous. It is one of the fastest growing trees in North America. In Mississippi River bottoms, height growth of 10–15 feet (5–5 m) per year for a few years have been seen. Sustained height growth of 5-foot (1.5-meter) height growth and 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) diameter growth per year for 25 years is common.

Note: NOAA and the National Weather service in conjunction with the State of Montana conducts river gauge readings for Canyon Creek at ZooMontana. The gauge can be seen from the bridge just west of Dottie's Garden  (LAT 45.731400 N / LONG  -108.624000 W). More information and current reading can be found as follows:

Complete information about the Canyon Creek at Billings (Zoo Montana) 

 NWS Billings, MT

Note:Graphical forecasts are not available for the Canyon Creek at Billings (Zoo Montana).  During times of high water, forecast crest information can be found in the text products.