Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog

This! Fort Townsend State Park’s New Mural of Old-Growth Forest

This! Fort Townsend State Park’s New Mural of Old-Growth Forest
In November, 2010, I suggested to our Friends of Fort Townsend group that we commission a natural history interpretive painting for the park. We put together the funding for the project, including an education grant from the Washington Native Plant Society. Fort Townsend State Park is 2 miles south of Port Townsend off of Highway 20. The park includes seven miles of hiking trails through old-growth forest. The WNPS plant list for the park includes 215 species. We asked Larry Eifert if he would b...
Continue reading

Five Plants—and People—I Appreciate

Five Plants—and People—I Appreciate
We're now in the middle of 2013's Native Plant Appreciation Week . I spent last weekend touring some inspiring gardens on the Central Puget Sound Chapter's Native Plant Garden tour. When I got back home, I took an appraising look at my own garden. It's still very much a work in progress—as most gardens are. I poked around, grubbing out weeds and trimming errant branches, and I thought about how my garden is populated with people as well as plants. Here are five plants, and five people, I found i...
Continue reading

Appreciating Native Plant Appreciation Week

Appreciating Native Plant Appreciation Week
Did you have a good Earth Day when it rolled around earlier this week? And what are your plans for Native Plant Appreciation Week when it starts on April 28 th ? ​ What is Native Plant Appreciation Week? The week gives us a springtime opportunity to enjoy our state's amazing flora. We can take a look at all the work that governmental agencies, non-profit groups, and environmental organizations are doing to protect native plant species and restore native plant habitats. We can participate in ever...
Continue reading

Roaming Rove Beetles and Naïve Bumblebees

Roaming Rove Beetles and Naïve Bumblebees
The arrival of spring always rekindles my interest in pollination biology, that fascinating body of knowledge detailing how plants achieve the delivery of pollen to the stigma of a flower. Pollination is typically required for fertilization and subsequent seed production (there are exceptions, but that is another story). Scientists estimate that nearly 90% of the 300,000+ vascular plant species in the world rely on animals (insect, bird, mammal) for successful pollination. The glue of this relat...
Continue reading

Ten Taxing Taxonomy Terms for Tax Time

Ten Taxing Taxonomy Terms for Tax Time
ID Taxonomy: ​I is for Intercalary ​Inserted between other parts. ​Timothy had to mow the lawn again because grasses have those pesky intercalary meristems. ​D is for Dichotomous ​Divided into two distinct parts ​Neither the first or second choice fits well in this dichotomous key. ​T is for Taxon (plural: taxa) ​A taxonomic group of any rank, such as a species, family, or class. ​As Benjamin Franklin (didn't) say to botany students: "Nothing is certain except death and taxa." ​A is for Adaxial ...
Continue reading

Botanical Birthday Greetings to Washington State Parks

Botanical Birthday Greetings to Washington State Parks
March marked the kick-off celebrations for Washington State Parks' 100 th birthday, and brought to mind the great botanizing available in these parks. One of the first centennial celebrations was on March 9 th , when the Friends of Moran State Park and photographer Martin Taylor cooperated for some aerial photos . You can see the summit of Mount Constitution on Orcas Island and the surrounding forest and environs. Looks like it was a fun time! WNPS has a plant list for Mount Constitution . A pre...
Continue reading

Sign Up!

Sign Up!
It's time to sign up, step up, apply, and register. Spring is here and it brings loads of opportunities to learn, to contribute your time, and to get out and about. First off, here are some activities sponsored by the Washington Native Plant Society and its partners. Native Plant Stewardship Training Application deadline April 8 . We are once again offering free Native Plant Stewardship Training in Seattle. Native Plant Stewards help restore Seattle's forested parks. Partners with WNPS are Seatt...
Continue reading

Gardening with Edible and Useful Native Shrubs

Gardening with Edible and Useful Native Shrubs
I recently moved and have the good fortune of a new landscape to plant and restore on San Juan Island. After Phase 1—planting a fine selection of native trees—I set out on Phase 2: adding shrubs that are useful, edible, or both. They got extra points for color and texture. Here are my top five, in no particular order. 1. Salmonberry ( Rubus spectabilis ) I love salmonberry for its beautiful dark pink to magenta flowers that bloom from early spring to early summer. Hummingbirds and butterflies lo...
Continue reading

Looking Ahead

Looking Ahead
My Spring 2013 edition of Douglasia arrived Saturday, on a day of sunshine and mild temperatures. Perhaps it was the sun, but I think this edition is particularly beguiling. And reading it was a great way to top off a day spent immersed in plant life. First I spent several hours in the garden, trimming, clipping, raking, and vanquishing innocent-looking youngsters of shotweed ( Cardamine hirsuta ) and dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale ). Then I went on a long walk with my sister, through a nearby...
Continue reading

Plant Profile: Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

Plant Profile: Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis oregana)
It's getting to be that shamrock time of year. Let's take a look at a Washington native species that has handsome shamrock-like leaves. Why it's choice: Redwood sorrel carpets the understory in coastal forests north into British Columbia and south into the redwood stands of northern California. It's leaves are trifoliate, meaning they have three leaflets, in a shape characteristic of other members of the genus Oxalis , as well as members of the pea family such as clover ( Trifolium , heh) and al...
Continue reading

Four Favorite Native Plant Fragrances

Four Favorite Native Plant Fragrances
Several native plant fragrances help me mark the seasons each year. I'm sure you have favorites of your own. Here are four that I like to sniff out: Black cottonwood ( Populus trichocarpa ) This tall deciduous tree leafs out stickily in the spring, its buds and new leaves covered with a yellowish gum. I learned from Pojar and Mackinnon* that bees use the aromatic resin to protect and seal their hives. Certainly it can be a gummy mess if you get it on your hands, in your hair, or on your hiking g...
Continue reading

Spring at Washington Park, Anacortes

Spring at Washington Park, Anacortes
Susan Alaynick, chairperson of the Salal Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society, offers this personal look at spring flowers in Washington Park, Anacortes . The Salal Chapter serves Skagit, Island, and Northern Snohomish counties. Washington Park is an Anacortes city park lying on the west edge of Fidalgo Island. If you keep heading west past the San Juan Islands ferry terminal, you'll get there. And here's a trail map for when you do. This walk was my first exposure to the Native Plant ...
Continue reading

Getting Acquainted with Lichens

Getting Acquainted with Lichens
Learning about lichens is fun and adds a new dimension to your time outdoors. But what is a lichen? And how is it different from a moss? To a biologist, the answer is simple: a moss is a plant and a lichen is a partnership between a fungus and algae or cyanobacteria (formerly known as blue-green algae). But that may not help you, since you won't see the algae or cyanobacteria with your naked eye. So here is a general rule of thumb: Mosses are often grass green and lichens are every other shade o...
Continue reading

Botany in the Movies, 2012

Botany in the Movies, 2012
February is movie month, as we count down to the Oscars on Sunday, February 24 th . While this topic is only tangentially related to Washington's native plants, please indulge me. After Chris Cooper won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as orchid hunter John Larroche in Adaptation in 2002, I was hopeful that we were on the cusp of a time of botanical greatness in film. However, it's been a slow couple of years for botany and botanists in the movies. I didn't see 2011's Unknown , with Liam Nees...
Continue reading

For Sale: Bare Roots and Live Stakes

For Sale: Bare Roots and Live Stakes
While it's still too early in the year for most native plant sales , there's one type of sale that is already underway. And that is the conservation district bare root plant sale. As a lifelong city girl, I never really knew what a conservation district was until I worked for the late Washington Biodiversity Council . Then I learned that conservation districts grew out of the Depression-era dust bowl troubles, as a way for the government to help farmers and others manage their land better. Nowad...
Continue reading

Subscribe to eNews & Blog

Stay up-to-date with a monthly email from WNPS showcasing new blog articles, important announcements, and monthly events across the state.

Search Blog

Search Blog by Date

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar