Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
Dec
12

Across Washington State in Wildflowers

Wildflowers Across Washington posterArtwork by Louise Smith Do you, or does someone you know, want to learn several of the most beautiful plants in Washington State by sight? During these winter days, a great way to do that is to hang the poster "Wildflowers Across Washington" where you can contemplate it daily. I have been gazing at "Wildflowers Across Washington" since it was first produced, back in the 1990s. At the time, I was working at the University of Washington Herbarium. One day, three...
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Dec
03

Send Those Cards and Letters

Long-time readers of Botanical Rambles know how I feel about snail mail . And December is a great month for sending and receiving actual, real, bona fide cards and letters. As my sister Annie says, "Just say yes to the U.S.P.S." Luckily for all of us, the Washington Native Plant Society offers stunning holiday cards that share the magic of Pacific Northwest winters. Each set features 7 images donated by photographer Mark Turner. Note that the images on this page include Mark's colophon, but the ...
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Nov
26

Time to Look Ahead: Get Your 2017 WNPS Calendar

Cover of the 2017 Washington Native Plant Society CalendarPhoto: Ted Alway The 2017 Washington Native Plant Society calendar, featuring all of this year's photo contest winners, is now available . Be sure to get one—or several! They make great gifts and supplies are limited. Entertaining and educational prose from Ellen Kuhlmann, of the Koma Kulshan chapter, accompanies the lovely photos. The images are generously contributed by Washington Native Plant Society members like you. In fact, the cont...
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Nov
12

Bridging the Gap

Delphinium nuttallianumPhoto: Ben Legler ​It's November. Days are short, nights are long, and leaves are down. A friend of mine inelegantly calls November "the armpit of the year." And nationally, we have just finished an inelegant presidential campaign. We face the future with a federal administration and Congress that are not likely to support environmental issues or scientific evidence. I've found some relief by taking a virtual hike at Wallula Gap, with a slide show now anchoring the Washing...
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Oct
12

Pond Weeds and Their Cousins: A Report from the Aquatic Plants Workshop

Peter Zika in the field at an Aquatic Plants WorkshopPhoto: Washington Native Plant Society By the time I found room 246 in Hitchcock Hall, hidden behind construction barriers on the University of Washington campus, class had already begun. I crossed the room quickly to take a seat on a squeaky metal chair stationed behind a microscope. Peter Zika, a botanist specializing in the obscure, was halfway through a lecture on local aquatic plants. Before I aimed my attention at his slides on the scree...
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Dec
04

Twenty ideas for the gift-giving season

Whether you love it or hate it, the gift-giving season is here. And the Washington Native Plant Society is here to help. You can give your sweetheart, pal, family member, friend, co-worker, spouse, in-law, or even yourself, one of these fine WNPS-themed gifts: 1. A WNPS membership and all the stuff that it includes: the quarterly journal, Douglasia , chapter newsletters, programs, field trips, and much more. It's easy to sign up online and there are membership categories for any budget. 2. The W...
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Sep
17

Plant Profile: Snow Buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum)

Flowers of snow buckwheatPhoto by Clay Antieau Autumn is coming, and the number of plants still flowering diminishes this time of year. Snow Buckwheat (Eriogonum niveum) is one you can often find in bloom through September in eastern Washington. This plant profile was originally published, in slightly different form, as part of a native plant spotlight series.   Why Choose It? With frosty-green leaves and long-lasting sprays of tiny white to pink flowers, Snow Buckwheat cools the eye in lat...
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Sep
04

Goodbye Sarah Reichard, and “Where Do We Go From Here?”

I was stunned to learn that Dr. Sarah Reichard passed away in her sleep in late August while leading a UW Botanic Gardens tour in South Africa. I first met Sarah in 1981, when she was an undergraduate in Botany at the same time I was earning my Masters at the University of Washington. I saw her most recently at the memorial service for Dr. Art Kruckeberg , where we shared memories of Art. We chatted about my recent trip to the Chelsea Flower Show in London and her then-upcoming trip to South Afr...
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Aug
20

A Great Fall Berry from The Forest: Blue Elderberry

Berries of blue elderberryPhoto by Marcia Rivers Smith Blue elderberry is one of the great plants of the Pacific Northwest forest. I have found this berry in nearly every county of Washington State. It grows in wet, cool shady areas. It produces great berries that are prized for their flavor by both humans and wildlife. Native people have used it for as a medicinal plant and to make small flutes or whistles from its stems. Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea (formerly Sambucus caerulea ), the scientifi...
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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 ...
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Jun
24

In the field with Art Kruckeberg

Art Kruckeberg, one of the founders of the Washington Native Plant Society, passed away on May 25, 2016, age 96. He was a grand old man of Washington botany, a mentor, and a mensch. Formal obituaries may be found in the Seattle Times and on the University of Washington Biology web page. What follows is an appreciation of Art that I wrote for the Washington Native Plant Society journal Douglasia in 2000. Art Kruckeburg, 1920-2016Photo by Doug Henderson (1969) The faithful and the newly converted ...
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May
23

Our Stinging Nettles

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).Photo by Ben Legler Nettles are in a very small family Nettles are in a very small family, Urticaceae, most of whose members have stings. Washington's native nettle is Urtica dioica . Nettle leaves' stinging is accomplished with hollow hairs, like microscopic hypodermic needles, which exude formic acid when brushed against. An irritating rash may appear on one's skin, its severity depending on the sensitivity of the "victim." Some people have red, burning sores fo...
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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 ...
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May
05

A Cavalcade of Coloring

In bookstores these days, I see masses of coloring books marketed to adults. People are snapping them up, I understand, for stress relief, for mindfulness, for a creative outlet. This brought to mind a treasure trove of coloring book pages prepared by the late Karl Urban (1943-1999), who was a botanist on the Umatilla National Forest in Oregon. Karl Urban prepared these northwestern United States wildflower illustrations for Celebrating Wildflowers and other educational activities (Celebrating W...
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May
02

Big Trees, Big Hearts, and GiveBIG

Give BIG Let's start with GiveBIG . Tuesday, May 3– and now extended through Wednesday, May 4 –is the Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event. The Foundation sponsors this online giving event to inspire you and others to give generously to nonprofits in our region—and the Foundation stretches your donation by adding money of its own. Make an impact—your spring contribution to the Washington Native Plant Society will be made even more valuable by stre-e-e-tch dollars available from the Seattle Foundat...
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