Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
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...
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Aug
01

Coevolution and Pollination

Sidalcea oregana var. calva, photo by Joe Arnett The coevolution of flowering plants and their animal pollinators presents one of nature's most striking examples of adaption and specialization. It also demonstrates how the interaction between two groups of organisms can be a font of biological diversity. Flowering plants are adapting to their pollinators, which are in turn adapting to the plants. Each of the participating organisms thus presents an evolutionary "moving target". The relationship ...
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Jul
18

When in Drought…

Back in May, Governor Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency . Now in July, the U.S. government has declared over 40 percent of Washington State a federal drought disaster area . Mt. Rainier National Park reports late summer-like conditions: On Lower Paradise trails, only some flowers still in bloom: False Hellebore, Gray's Mountain Lovage, American Bistort, and Subalpine Daisy. On Deadhorse Creek and West Side of Skyline Trail, very few flowers. All lupine have gone to seed. At Sunrise o...
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Jul
12

Fires of Summer

It's so hot, July feels like August. But then, so did June. Washington State's continuing drought and hot weather, combined with our Mediterranean climate (i.e., not much summer rain) spells extreme fire danger. So it seems timely to think about how native plants can be part of fire preparedness. This house was spared from the Naneum Canyon wildfire in 2010, thanks in part to the homeowner’s use of Firewise landscaping.Photo: Washington Department of Natural Resources Firewise As Steve McConnell...
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Jun
20

Just Because It’s June, June, June: News and Notes from the Washington Native Plant Society

Where Have You Been Rambling?  You may be forgiven for wondering if Botanical Rambles had rambled off in to the sunset, considering that the most recent post was May 6 th ! Your humble blog curator has been overly busy with her day job, notably helping to organize the 2015 Salmon Recovery Conference and then (trying) to catch up on many end-of-biennium tasks. Washington Park Loop RoadPhoto from City of Anacortes It hasn't been all work. I introduced an out-of-town visitor to the pleasures o...
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May
05

Got Milkweed?

Monarch butterflyPhoto courtesy of the Xerces Society 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) an...
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May
04

Big Leaves, Big Heart, GiveBIG

A big leaf of bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum).Photo courtesy of the Starflower Foundation, all rights reserved. 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 opportuni...
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Apr
20

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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Mar
28

A Visit to Galiano Island

Garry oaks (Quercus garryana) on Galiano Island.Photo by Jamie Bails, all rights reserved. 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. It...
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Mar
14

Bigleaf Maple Syrup

A big leaf of bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum).Photo courtesy of the Starflower Foundation, all rights reserved. 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 mapl...
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Mar
05

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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Feb
03

Golden Paintbrush 2014 Global Population Estimates Released

Enter your caption here 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 ...
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Jan
24

Book Review: Pacific Northwest Foraging

Pacific Northwest Foraging: 120 Wild and Flavorful Edibles from Alaska Blueberries to Wild Hazelnuts 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 "lite...
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Jan
06

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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Dec
04

Don’t Leaf Me This Way!

Big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) 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 b...
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