Spring Wildflowers

Spring Wildflowers
by Nancy Pezel, 12 May 2018

The weather was perfect for our group of 12 members to enjoy a lovely walk searching for spring wildflowers.

David Bedry led the group down the Browne Creek Trail to Dinner Rock Bluffs and the campground.

Along the sunnier edges of the forest we saw Pacific dogwood and Saskatoon berry in bloom.  Sally spotted some striped coralroot as well.  Death Camas were just beginning to flower in some of the grassy openings, while the Monkey flowers and chocolate lilies were in full bloom.  Nodding onions provided a culinary treat.

Carpets of sea blush dotted the tops of the bluffs as we got closer to the ocean.
And we sure enjoyed those ocean views!

Duane Sept – “Wildflowers and edible plants of BC”

Duane Sept – “Wildflowers and edible plants of BC”
by Andrew Bryant, 23 Nov 2017.

Duane came up from Sechelt to talk about wildflowers and other plants – some you can eat, and some you definitately should not!

He’s an accomplished photographer, naturalist and author of an impressive number of natural history guides.  These include titles such as Common Wildflowers of BC, Trees of the Northwest, and Tropical Butterflies of the World.

Organized by habitat type – from seashore Phyllospadix to mountaintop Phlox – Duane used his exceptional photographs to take us on a marvellous tour of botanical splendours.

Interspersed among the images were some fascinating tidbits of trivia.  Having walked through a patch or two of Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) in my day, I had no idea that bears love the stuff.  Dear bears… you can keep it!

I was also unaware that one can make decent beer with stinging nettles (Urtica dioica).  Or that First Nations used rhizomes of the common yellow water lily (Nuphar lutea) to treat tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases…

Amazing stuff!


In search of saprophytes

In search of saprophytes
by Nancy Pezel, 24 June 2017.

Walter Kubany and his wife Sally led an enthusiastic group of 14 naturalists on a hunt for saprophytes along the trails of Valentine Mountain on this beautiful summer day.

We learned that many of these plants live on dead and decaying vegetation, but some like the Indian-pipes and Groundcones are parasitic on other plants.   They don’t have green leaves and chlorophyll, but interestingly some of them are in the winter-green family.   Because these unusual plants don’t seem to be very long lived, we were lucky to find some striking Candysticks in full bloom, a few Coralroots of varying shades of orange and purple, and a Pinesap.

Without Walter’s keen eye we would have missed the white Indian-pipe that was just emerging from the soil at the edge of the trail and some delicate orchids off the main trail.  For any of the saprophytes that were already finished flowering or hadn’t emerged yet, Sally and Walter had beautiful photos so we would know what to look for on future walks!

Plant phenology workshop

Plant phenology workshop
by Andrew Bryant, 23 January 2015.

As somewhat of a non sequitur to his talk about Madagascar the previous evening, Bill Merilees followed up with  a more informal discussion of his garden in Nanaimo and the mysteries of plant phenology.   “Phenology”, by the way, is just a scientific buzzword to describe the study of the timing of repeated events in the biological world.

Eleven of us met at Janet May’s house for tea and a fruitful (pun intended) discussion of how the systematic, careful study of questions like “when does my salmonberry flower” can lead to all kinds of other interesting questions and insights.  Such as…

– “So THAT’s why rufous hummingbirds show up when they do“.

– “My heavens, you mean one can detect global warming from Japanese cherry blossom records dating back for over 600 years?”   Yes, you CAN.

– “I’ve been keeping track of flowering dates for years.  Do you mean my old records might actually be USEFUL?”  Yes.  Henry David Thoreau’s records from Concord, Massachusetts certainly were!

So your old notes may constitute a gold mine.  And it’s easy to get involved! Two large and growing efforts to systematically collect and make data available to scientific researchers are the National Phenological Network in the United States and NatureWatch here in Canada.

Special thanks to Janet for hosting this event, to Heather for facilitating it, and to Bill for demonstrating once again how much can be gained by thoughtful observation, love of nature, and sharing your field-notes!


Judy Watts – “Arctic and wildflowers”

Judy Watts – “Arctic and wildflowers”
by Heather Harbord, October 26, 2007.

 Judy is a former nurse and administrator who spent 11 years working in the North for the territorial government before moving to Powell River.  She gave an inspiring talk about life in the arctic, particularly the wonderful wildflowers to be found there.

The Powell River Peak published a nice article about Judy, which can be found here.