Botanical Rambles

Welcome to the Washington Native Plant Society Blog
Apr
07

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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Mar
30

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). Photo by Sarah Gage. Western Trillium ( Trillium ovatum ) ​ Trillium's flowers surprise me every year—they are just so clean and so white. Christy Karras recently ...
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Mar
22

Shoot! It’s Shotweed

Shotweed or bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta). Photographed by Ben Legler. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. 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 he...
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Mar
14

Plan Your Botanical Break!

Desert yellow daisy (Erigeron linearis) photographed by Aaron Theisen. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. 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 ,...
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Mar
06

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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Feb
25

Let’s Get Real about Stewardship

Stewardship. Everyone uses that word these days, but I realized I wasn't exactly sure what it means. So I looked it up. Stewardship is "the activity or job of protecting and being responsible for something." As someone who cares about Washington's native plants and plant communities, you have lots of opportunities to act, to protect, and take responsibility for some corner of our flora. Native Plant Stewardship Program Stewards Yossi Schuck and Lisa Griswold practicing their plant ID skills usin...
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Feb
18

Botany in the Movies, 2013

It's time to catch up on movies before the Oscars on Sunday, March 2 nd . Thank you for tolerating this quirk of mine; next week we'll return to Washington's native plants. Once again, I found scarce mention of botany and botanists in the movies I saw in 2013. For some reason, movie makers focus more on things that go really fast, blow up, burst into flames, or all three. 2013 was a good year for: Post-apocalyptic scenarios—Elysium, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Oblivion, World War Z Fantasy char...
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Feb
11

Plant Profile: Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum)

Blog Curator's Note: This week we'll take a look at a plant that's a favorite with many people, including me. In a sheltered spot, it can look perky even in February, when its heart-shaped leaves are so seasonally appropriate. This is a piece Cynthia Spurgeon wrote for WNPS a few years ago that appeared in the Seattle Times (here it is in the Times). Happy Valentine's Day! –SG Green leaves of Asarum caudatum Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum) Why it's choice: Native wild ginger is an elegant ground c...
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Feb
05

Go Hawks! Hawkweeds, that is.

Native Scouler's hawkweed (Hieracium scouleri). Photo by Ben Legler. In light of the Seahawks' complete domination of Super Bowl XLVIII, I thought it might be timely to consider the hawkweeds of Washington. Hawkweed, or Hieracium , is a member of the lettuce or Cichoriae subfamily of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). This means that the flowers look like dandelion flowers, with long, strap-shaped flowers (or ligulate flowers, in botany-speak). Huh, you say? Remember that "flowers" in the sunflo...
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Jan
28

Top Ten Discussions on Botanical Rambles—2013

Before January splits the scene, I want to thank you for rambling along with me here on the Washington Native Plant Society blog in 2013. I enjoyed curating the blog last year, and I've signed up to continue for 2014. A special thanks to you subscribers out there—over 130 of you!—who receive Botanical Rambles in your inbox. If you'd like to subscribe, click on the link in the right-hand sidebar. What would you like to read about on the blog this year? Would you like to contribute a post? Please ...
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Jan
21

Winter 2014 News and Notes

People are writing in and letting me know about all kinds of plants, plant sales, and other activities around the state. Lots of botanical fun to be had! News from the Suksdorfia Chapter: Susan Saul writes that the Suksdorfia Chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society now has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/suksdorfia . With wildflower season getting underway in the Columbia River Gorge, now is a good time for people to follow posts about what is blooming. On that page, I read tha...
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Jan
12

Watch Out—Don’t Miss these Opportunities

Tweedy’s lewisia, a WNPS 2013 winning photograph by Ray Izumi. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Ready or not, the new year is off to a roaring start. Here are a couple of opportunities with deadlines coming up… 2014 WNPS Photo Contest Photo contest deadline is January 15, 2014. Send in your favorite photos! The Washington Native Plant Society is looking for your great photos of Washington wildflowers and native plant landscapes. Help us show off the beauty of native plants and share informat...
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Dec
31

Revisiting Resolutions, 2014 edition

Well, 2014 has launched. How about those resolutions I made so publicly last year? Last January I noted some blooming resolutions for 2013. I had typical results on my general resolutions. Eat fewer sweets (Fail! If anything, I ate more sweets in 2013, since I discovered dark chocolate M&Ms.) Get more exercise (Actually, I did pretty well on this one.) Be an all-round better person (Probably not for me to say. I don't think I became a worse person. Let's call this one a draw.) I definitely d...
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Dec
24

The Holly and the Ivy and New Year’s Resolutions

English Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Photo by Ben Legler. Among the Christmas carols I grew up singing was the English song "The Holly and the Ivy," which begins The holly and the ivy When they are both full grown Of all the trees that are in the wood The holly bears the crown. Anyone who has worked at removing invasive non-native species in western Washington is likely to disagree with that sentiment—unless holly wears the "crown" of most prickly and most leathery. But then that carol dates to no l...
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Dec
17

Something Slimy Slithering to a Garden Near You

A new guide, Land Snails and Slugs of the Pacific Northwest , helps identify 245 terrestrial slugs and snails in and around Oregon, Washington, Idaho and western Montana. Described as an essential resource for biologists, horticulturalists, gardeners and naturalists, the book is rich in color photographs, range maps and complete mollusk characteristics. The author, Thomas E. Burke, a retired U.S. Forest Service Wildlife Biologist, presented recently to the South Sound Chapter of the Washington N...
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