Pollination: A Sampler

Pollination: A Sampler
If it is axiomatic that nature will allow or support "whatever works," it is our observation that many, many different things "work" in nature. The wide diversity in floral structures and pollination strategies exemplify this propensity for variety.There are endless variations on the basic story of pollen grains making their way to the stigma of an appropriate pistil, and many are easy to see if you look. Variation one Go out in late winter and check out the elongating catkins of beaked hazel ( ...
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One Way to Share Your Enthusiasm for Plants with Kids

One Way to Share Your Enthusiasm for Plants with Kids
Imagine you are outside. The sun is shining, illuminating the new growth on the western red cedars. It's been a great growing season and the plants at Washington Park Arboretum are thriving. The backdrop of evergreen trees is a lovely frame to all of the native and non-native plants in the collection. Now, if those kids would just get here! Just when you thought you couldn't wait any longer, here comes the bus holding a bunch of school-aged children just bursting with energy and excitement to be...
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Visit Kruckeberg Botanic Garden This Summer

Visit Kruckeberg Botanic Garden This Summer
If you have not been to the Kruckeberg Botanic Garden in Shoreline lately, this summer is a great time to visit. Along with public tours and family events each weekend, the on-site MSK Nursery offers native plants propagated directly from the garden. Admission to the garden is free, but donations are accepted and memberships are encouraged. ​ The public botanic garden is now part of the city of Shoreline's park system, and it is managed by the non-profit Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Foundation. The...
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Birds, Bees, and the Alternation of Generations

Birds, Bees, and the Alternation of Generations
Before we get to the birds and the bees (and the flowers), I think it would be informative to first establish some botanical fundamentals. This may not be the most direct approach to examining pollination, which is where we are heading, but you may learn aspects to this story that you never imagined. Every basic course in botany covers the topic of alternation of generations, one of the characteristics of plant life cycles, and the "reduction of the gametophyte" as the evolutionary trends culmin...
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Three Wild Strawberries of the Pacific Northwest

Three Wild Strawberries of the Pacific Northwest
The bloom of strawberries is a sure sign that summer is just around the corner. The Pacific Northwest is fortunate to have three delectable varieties of wild strawberry. Beach strawberry ( Fragaria chiloensis ) can be found along the upper edges of beaches on Washington and Oregon coasts. The leaves are thick and leathery compared to those of other wild strawberries of the Pacific Northwest. The other two strawberries in the region are usually found from the interior valleys west of the Cascades...
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Watch Out for Weeds this Summer!

Watch Out for Weeds this Summer!
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 National Forest. The goal of the...
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Hitchcock Springs Eternal—Especially in the Spring

Hitchcock Springs Eternal—Especially in the Spring
Perhaps you, like me, are panting a bit from all your spring-season activities. A plant sale here, a volunteer activity there, an evening walk in the Mima Mounds, a couple of marathon gardening sessions, and voila! I'm ready to lie down in the shade of a big tree and have a glass of lemonade. So, my hat is off to the stalwarts who participated in Botany Washington 2014 on May 17–18. A capacity crowd signed up to enjoy the floristic splendors of the lower Columbia basin. On Saturday night of this...
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Beyond Grass

Beyond Grass
I had a grand time at the Native Plant Sale and Celebration on May 3 rd , sponsored by the Central Puget Sound Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society. I got to wear a green vest and walk around providing color commentary for people who were shopping. People most often requested plants for these situations: Ground covers for a place where they were replacing the lawn or where they'd pulled out ivy Plants for dry shade under big trees or roof eaves. These conversations brought to mind an a...
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Appreciating Common Camas (Camassia quamash) during Native Plant Appreciation Week

Appreciating Common Camas (Camassia quamash) during Native Plant Appreciation Week
And we're off! Native Plant Appreciation Week began with a rousing start for me! While botanizing at 60 mph isn't ideal, I love to glimpse the blue of one of my favorite plants, common camas ( Camassia quamash ), along Interstate 5 between Tacoma and Olympia during my weekly trek. The week is full of field trips, programs, plant sales and a couple of garden tours. For more information, see the full Native Plant Appreciation Week listings. Opportunities coming up include: Field trips to Juniper D...
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April is the Cruellest Month…

April is the Cruellest Month…
With apologies to T.S. Eliot , does anyone else feel pulled in a thousand directions this month? So many things to do and see and learn. April is designated as National Poetry Month and Earth Awareness Month . Consulting my WNPS wall calendar , I find that April includes Washington State Arbor Day (second Wednesday), Earth Day (April 22), and National Arbor Day (last Friday). Rounding out the month is Native Plant Appreciation Week (April 27-May 3, 2014). I think that I shall never see / A poem ...
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Waterworks Canyon

Waterworks Canyon
Editor's note: Mark Turner posted this piece on his blog, Passions , on April 22, 2013. He's generously agreed to share it with Botanical Rambles. Waterworks Canyon is part of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's Oak Creek Wildlife Area . I took the liberty of adding the scientific names from the WNPS plant list for the area—any errors in those are mine. It had been six years since my last visit to Waterworks Canyon , a gem of a place for early season wildflowers west of Yakima, Wash...
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A Walk Around the Garden

A Walk Around the Garden
In between rainstorms, I've been out in the garden, enjoying the emerging blooms and the leaves. Many species are from our Washington flora and many I've obtained at Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) plant sales. Here are some of the native plants I've been watching in my garden this past week. Western Trillium ( Trillium ovatum ) ​ Trillium's flowers surprise me every year—they are just so clean and so white. Christy Karras recently wrote a wonderful appreciation in the Seattle Times, " Ta...
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Shoot! It’s Shotweed

Shoot! It’s Shotweed
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 herb? Oh yes, it's my old pal, shotweed, that pesky member of the mustard family that seems ubiquitous in wester...
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Plan Your Botanical Break!

Plan Your Botanical Break!
Choose from three botanical weekends—or stuff yourself and attend all three. It's time to plan—and register—for your botanical getaway now. Botany Washington 2014: May 16–18, 2014 This year's focus for Botany Washington is Spring Diversity in the Lower Columbia River Basin . Co-sponsored by the Washington Native Plant Society and the University of Washington Herbarium at the Burke Museum , the goal for this weekend is outstanding learning for people of all botanical skill levels. Participants ch...
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I’m a Vector, You’re a Vector Too

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...
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