Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
Feb
26

How You Can Help Prevent and Stop Invasive Species

European coltsfoot, Tussilago farfaraPhoto: Crow Vecchio Our friends at the Washington Invasive Species Council, whose work closely aligns with our goals of conserving native plants and plant habitats, have a bunch of great suggestions for preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species. And in conjunction with National Invasive Species Awareness Week, Governor Jay Inslee has proclaimed February 25 to March 3, 2018 as Washington Invasive Species Awareness Week. Clean your gear  C...
  696 Hits
696 Hits
Dec
11

The Holly and the Ivy…Festive, but Not in Your Forest!

Tip of the Holly This is an English holly ( Ilex aquifolium , see photo below) that I pulled out of the ground. What I want to impress upon you are the measurements. From the top to the root collar is about 12 inches. The root then extends another 36 inches. Folks, that's a 2-to-1 root-to-shoot ratio. Maybe they should change the expression "tip of the iceberg" to "tip of the holly." Can you imagine what the root system is like on larger hollies? This is one of the big problems with this invasiv...
  465 Hits
465 Hits
Jul
29

Tussling with Tussilago

Habit of Tussilago farfaraPhoto by Crow Vecchio In late April of 2016, Kristyn Loving noticed some unusual plants by the side of a road in Mt.Rainier National Park. As one of the park's communication's staff, she is always looking for new stories—and incidentally, new plants. No one in the park offices was familiar with the plants she'd found. But two Mt. Rainier volunteers, Crow Vecchio and Carol Miltimore , who have each racked up impressive volunteer credentials at the park, are also PNW IPC ...
  234 Hits
234 Hits
May
13

Maytime

Maytime is… A completely over-the-top movie musical from 1937, starring Jeanette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy A single, deep red Paeonia hybrid with golden stamens A time when plant lovers in the northern hemisphere shift into high gear All of the above And the correct answer is 4–all of the above! Here are several items for your consideration during this blooming busy time: More color Invasive procedures What do you want to learn? More color I hope you enjoyed the Celebrating Wildflowers coloring ...
  235 Hits
235 Hits
Mar
14

Dates to Remember: Botanical Activities Abound!

Cue the overwhelm. The spring rush is upon us. Washington Native Plant Society activities Opportunities from other organizations Washington Native Plant Society Activities April 1, 2016 No fooling, applications for the South Sound Native Plant Stewardship Training are due April 1! The Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) and its South Sound Chapter are offering a Native Plant Stewardship Program for Pierce and Thurston Counties in Spring 2016. The six-week, no-cost program combines classroom l...
  241 Hits
241 Hits
Oct
21

Stewardship Training Opportunity in Everett

Newsflash: New Dates for Training The training has been re-scheduled for November 12 through December 3. Fall is always a great time to learn something new. While the Washington Native Plant Society isn't currently offering its Native Plant Stewardship Program , here's a training opportunity from one of our partners that you might find interesting. National Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards Training Program Community stewardship at Interlaken Park, Seattle. Photographer: Rick Thompson, all ri...
  217 Hits
217 Hits
Aug
29

Tansy, I Never Knew Thee

When I first got the idea to write this article, I was going to title it "Bad Tansy, Good Tansy." However, once I studied up on tansy ragwort ( Senecio jacobaea ) and common tansy ( Tanacetum vulgare ), I realized the title should be more like: "Bad Tansy and Not Quite as Bad Tansy." Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)“Petals are Poison”Photo by John Neorr Every year around late summer, I have noticed in local ditches and in open fields, clumps of tall plants with pretty yellow flowers growing in p...
  224 Hits
224 Hits
Aug
10

The Invasion of Lake Joy

Sgian and Aeden Peterson fight the battle against fragrant water lily.Photo by Amy Peterson Lake Joy Lake Joy is a community of single family homes and summer cabins nestled halfway between the towns of Carnation and Duvall in western Washington State. Bald eagles, great blue herons, kingfishers, river otters, deer, black bears, the occasional cougar, bats, and owls live here. Many migratory waterfowl come through in the fall and spring. Red and orange sunsets make way for starlit nights. The la...
  206 Hits
206 Hits
Oct
13

At Midnight, Your Coach Will Turn in to… Marah

If Cinderella lived in Washington State, her fairy godmother might have warned her that her coach would turn—not into an orange pumpkin—but to a green, spiny, bladdery-inflated, modified berry. Fruit of Marah oreganus. Photo by Ben Legler. All rights reserved. And, in time, according to the Flora of the Pacific Northwest, it would dry, bust open at its tip, and reveal fibrous netting inside. Quite a tricked-out ride! That would be Cinderella's limo if her fairy godmother was determined to use th...
  222 Hits
222 Hits
May
28

Watch Out for Weeds this Summer!

Impatiens sp. Touch-me-not Coming up in June are several free training opportunities to learn how to identify invasive plants that threaten our national forests and wilderness areas. First up is a June 1 st Weed Watcher training in North Bend, and attendees will learn to identify and map priority invasive plants along trails in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. This training is co-hosted by the King County Noxious Weed Control Program, The Mountaineers, and the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Natio...
  188 Hits
188 Hits
Mar
22

Shoot! It’s Shotweed

Shotweed or bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). Photographed by Ben Legler. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Spring is here, and I am venturing out into the garden to see what is going on. If I can look beyond the remaining garden clean-up chores from last fall (heh), I can see the flowering gold and red currants ( Ribes aureum and R. sanguineum ), and the emerging leaves of inside-out flower and wild ginger ( Vancouveria hexandra and Asarum caudatum ). And… what's this little white flowered he...
  248 Hits
248 Hits
Mar
06

I’m a Vector, You’re a Vector Too

Several years ago, I was on an autumn larch hike led by Clayton Antieau, a past-President and long-time board member of the Washington Native Plant Society. Several of us on the hike had lugged our copies of Hitchcock and Cronquist up to the subalpine meadow in our day packs. These well-worn volumes had weighted down many a hike before. Once we arrived in the meadow, we cracked open our floras to start the delightful tedium of keying out plants in habitat. Out fell plant remnants from previous f...
  195 Hits
195 Hits
Feb
05

Go Hawks! Hawkweeds, that is.

Native Scouler's hawkweed (Hieracium scouleri). Photo by Ben Legler. In light of the Seahawks' complete domination of Super Bowl XLVIII, I thought it might be timely to consider the hawkweeds of Washington. Hawkweed, or Hieracium , is a member of the lettuce or Cichoriae subfamily of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). This means that the flowers look like dandelion flowers, with long, strap-shaped flowers (or ligulate flowers, in botany-speak). Huh, you say? Remember that "flowers" in the sunflo...
  193 Hits
193 Hits
Dec
24

The Holly and the Ivy and New Year’s Resolutions

English Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Photo by Ben Legler. Among the Christmas carols I grew up singing was the English song "The Holly and the Ivy," which begins The holly and the ivy When they are both full grown Of all the trees that are in the wood The holly bears the crown. Anyone who has worked at removing invasive non-native species in western Washington is likely to disagree with that sentiment—unless holly wears the "crown" of most prickly and most leathery. But then that carol dates to no l...
  173 Hits
173 Hits
Sep
18

Misadventures at the Seed Bank

I spent much of this spring and summer on my hands and knees pulling weeds. Not by choice, mind you, but because four years ago I did not understand the concept of the seed bank. Let me explain. In 2008 my wife and I bought an acre in Leavenworth; the site of an old pasture and orchard that bordered the forest. We finished building a house in 2010 and during the previous fall I began work to restore the old pasture to what it might have looked like before cultivation. If I were a purist I would ...
  229 Hits
229 Hits
Sep
04

Back to School

It's really happening, isn't it? August has ended, September is here. And with September comes that back-to-school combination of mourning (for the summer that's ending) and speeding up (for the autumn activities ahead). Time to learn something new, don't you think? The energizing briskness of fall opens up all kinds of opportunities. In addition to a new season of programs offered by Washington Native Plant Society chapters , here is a six-pack of educational and fun choices around the state. D...
  249 Hits
249 Hits
Aug
07

Botanico-Literary Question Mark II: Ivy on the Islands?

My nephew recently graduated from high school, and the speaker at his commencement was the novelist David Guterson. He gave what I thought was a fascinating, intricately reasoned speech on how to live a happy life in the face of the existential dilemma we all face. It didn't go over very well with some members of the audience (see the articles about it in the Seattle Times and Crosscut . The text of the talk is on the blog of The Stranger ). But the high school students were mostly very polite, ...
  240 Hits
240 Hits
Dec
18

My weed odyssey

Creating survival rings in urban parks. Photographer: Deb Gurney, all rights reserved. For the past few years, I've been battling English ivy (Hedera helix) in my yard, where it was planted along fences and in rockeries many decades ago . It is so massive that I use a pruning saw to cut through roots but even so, sadly, I am losing the war. Ivy has also taken over the forest understory on community land where my husband and I have a cabin in northeast SnohomishCounty. My ivy skirmishes have made...
  243 Hits
243 Hits

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