Sea of blossoms ~ Idaho
Off highway 95, near Cottonwood, Idaho:
N46 5 57 W116 21 2 (will get you close, look for the fields on the north side of highway 96)
Brassica campestris and Brassica napus.
When attending Washington State University in the late 1960s I asked a local about the beautiful yellow fields over in Idaho. “Rape” is what I was told (pronounced just like the crime). I didn’t know if the person telling me this was trying to be funny, talking about the use of the soil, or what. Later I learned the story.
Rape, as it refers to the rapeseed plants, comes from the Latin word “rapum”, meaning turnip. Rapeseed comes from a family of plants related to turnips; cabbage, rutabaga, brussel sprouts, and field mustard.
There are two primary types of rapeseed grown in the Idaho, Washington and Oregon area: Brassica napus and Brassica campestris. Almost 50% of rapeseed is “oil”. That oil has been used for centuries. The part of the seed left over after the pressing of the oil is used for livestock food. Hundreds of years ago rapeseed was used to light lamps in Asia and in Europe.
Today rapeseed oil is a popular cooking and salad oil (we use at our house). To make the product more “marketable” it is called and sold as Canola Oil.
We found fields of rapeseed in bloom in Idaho, near Grangeville and down in Oregon on our way home, near Weston. The Idaho rapeseed was much higher and more blossoms. I don’t know if the Oregon (shorter with fewer blossoms) was a different variety of just planted later in the season and not in full growth or bloom yet. Both places though, required some back road driving to photograph the lovely farm country landscapes they grace.
My wife and I took a three day road trip to the Snake River canyon area where Washington, Oregon, and Idaho meet. The highlight of the trip was a 9 mile round trip hike up the Rapid River near Riggins, Idaho.
If you want to read the details of this many road trip ~ open the narrative included with the flickr photo set: