Got Milkweed?

Got Milkweed?
Western monarch butterflies, like those in the eastern part of North America, are in trouble. Their populations have declined sharply in the last twenty years. In Washington, the western monarch ( Danaus plexippus plexippus ) and its host plant milkweed ( Asclepias sp.) are found only east of the Cascades. In western Washington, we have no native species of Asclepias . And… no milkweed, no monarchs. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and partners are attempting to reverse the downward popu...
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Big Leaves, Big Heart, GiveBIG

Big Leaves, Big Heart, GiveBIG
Today is May 5, Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG event. The Foundation sponsors this one-day, 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. It's a great opportunity to show your support of the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS). WNPS has provided educational opportunities and conservation advocacy in Washington for over 35 years. Currently we have 1500 members in 12 active chapte...
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Botanical Bonanza!

Botanical Bonanza!
April and May always leave me gasping for breath. Each year, the onrush of flowers and field trips and plant sales and programs whooshes in and sweeps me along. I hope that you, too, are having a botanically busy bonanza of a time. Here's just a sampling of what's going on in the weeks to come: April 26 to May 2: Native Plant Appreciation Week Native Plant Appreciation Week is a great time to celebrate Washington's floristic diversity. With over 3,000 native plant species growing in deserts, rai...
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A Visit to Galiano Island

A Visit to Galiano Island
If you are looking for a winter break that doesn't include airfare, look north to a little island in the Salish Sea that provides quiet shorelines, forested trails, an escape from winter rains, and a community investing big in land conservation. Galiano, located in the Canadian Gulf Islands, is a short ferry trip from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. The island has a year-round population of 1,100 people. Its many miles of community trails are enhanced by camping sites with splendid shore views an...
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Bigleaf Maple Syrup

Bigleaf Maple Syrup
When I was a kid, one of the books that set me on course to becoming a nature lover was the Newbery Award winner Miracles on Maple Hill , by Virginia Sorensen. It has a compelling story and vivid descriptions of walking through snowy forests, tapping sugar maples for sap, boiling it down, testing it—and tasting it. These descriptions stuck with me, although I have never lived in maple syrup country. Or so I thought! Last July, Al Craney and Kevin Zobrist published an article, "Producing maple sy...
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A note from Dick Olmstead, Professor and Herbarium Curator, University of Washington

A note from Dick Olmstead, Professor and Herbarium Curator, University of Washington
Friends and Colleagues, As many of you know, Hitchcock and Cronquist's "Flora of the Pacific Northwest" has been the authoritative guide to the region's flora since its publication in 1973. Generations of students, academic researchers, and field botanists have relied on this work to support their diverse botanical interests. However, the systematics, nomenclature, and distribution of our region's flora has changed over the course of 40 years due to ongoing research, access to more information, ...
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Golden Paintbrush 2014 Global Population Estimates Released

Golden Paintbrush 2014 Global Population Estimates Released
Golden paintbrush ( Castilleja levisecta ) has been the focus of much restoration effort in the Puget Sound region for over a decade. The species is listed as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.. With substantial funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, land managers with a large number of partners, including land trusts, state and federal agencies, as well as other organizations, have made enormous strides in recovering this species. By the late 1990's, it had been redu...
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Book Review: Pacific Northwest Foraging

Book Review: Pacific Northwest Foraging
Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts by Douglas Deur, published in 2014 by Timber Press . Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts A good berry book is berry hard to find, and berries have been berry berry good to me, but berry books, not always quite so. In my ongoing "liter-berry" foraging, I think I've perused every berry book there is. Most of them leave me wanting, lik...
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Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter

Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter
Editor's Note: This Botanical Ramble comes to us from Jim Freed, WSU Extension Forest Products Specialist. It was originally posted on February 17, 2014 on Forest Stewardship Notes, a joint effort by Washington State University Extension and the DNR Small Forest Landowner Office. In the winter, identifying woody plants (trees and shrubs) takes a bit more work. Since there are no leaves on the deciduous plant, you will need to know what the twigs, buds, bud scales, and bark look like. Quick ways ...
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Don’t Leaf Me This Way!

Don’t Leaf Me This Way!
Editor's Note: In Botanical Rambles' previous two autumns, we've looked at Washington's most colorful fall leaves and at the fall color of berries and beach plants. This year, Jamie Bails invites us to take another look at the value of fall leaves. A few years ago, after watching my neighbor rake and bag fallen cherry leaves, I asked him if I could save him a trip to the dump. He hesitatingly agreed, and I quickly loaded up eight lawn bags into my wheelbarrow before he changed his mind. I giddil...
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Gratitude and Giving

Gratitude and Giving
Everywhere I turn these days, people are promoting gratitude as being good for you.  Gratitude is good for you For example, the psychologist David DeSteno wrote an article in The New York Times about how gratitude can help you cope with impulse buying during the holidays. His studies have shown that willpower, or even feeling happy, won't help you curb your expenditures or increase your patience as much as feeling grateful. Similarly, over on the blog Brainpickings , Maria Popova discusses ...
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How About A Hedgerow?

How About A Hedgerow?
With fall planting season upon us, Jeanie Taylor encourages us to consider a hedgerow. Don't say you don't have room for a hedgerow! You can grow a hedgerow even on an urban lot—atop a rockery, along the fence line, or in your parking strip. What is a hedgerow? Hedgerows traditionally were used as fences between fields. A "laid hedge" in England contained thorny plants like hawthorn to act as a barrier. Each tree or shrub was cut through the lower trunk and laid over, each one crossing the next—...
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Mountain Beavers: An Important Prey Species for Larger Owls in Seattle’s Parks and Open Spaces

Mountain Beavers: An Important Prey Species for Larger Owls in Seattle’s Parks and Open Spaces
David Hutchinson, who many of us know from his bookselling and birding activities, contributes this closely observed piece about Mountain Beaver and owls in Seattle. Quite often, when one mentions "Mountain Beaver" in polite conversation, the response is: "What's that?" Or else: "Oh I've heard of them, but never seen one." Around Seattle's larger parks and forested places, two groups know the critter well: the larger owls and Green Seattle Partnership forest restoration stewards. The Mountain Be...
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At Midnight, Your Coach Will Turn in to… Marah

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. 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 the Washington native plant, coastal manroot ( M arah oreganus ) for ...
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How Much is that Tree Worth to You?

How Much is that Tree Worth to You?
It's fall, and perhaps your thoughts are turning to leaves. Leaves turning color, leaves falling to the ground, leaves covering the lawn, leaves clogging the storm drain, leaves piling up, leaves rotting. Even evergreen trees shed leaves and branches this time of year, whether part of their cycle of senescence or because a windy day scatters them about. Some days all these leaves can seem a nuisance, even to a plant-loving person such as myself. However, the good folks at the Washington State Ur...
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