Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Plants of the Yew Lake Trail: sluggish herbs and shrubs.

 Vaccinium sp. and deer cabbage.

A neat thing about having mountains nearby is that you can pretty quickly change your surrounding flora and fauna--by going up.  Continuing from the previous two posts, here I present some of the plants of the local subalpine.   In the above photo, the plants of note, at least to me, are an unidentified species of Vaccinium, (a blueberry--mid- and upper picture, small oval leaves), and bottom right, deer cabbage, which grew in profusion along the banks of small streams and seeps.

 Bog laurel, Kalmia polifolia.

Going up is like going north, and boreal gets boggy.  Some of the same plants we find in our local sea-level sphagnum bogs also live in subalpine wet areas.  Thus heaths-a-plenty, one being whatever  Vaccinium that was, and another being bog laurel,

and another being, (I'm pretty sure) pink mountain heather, Phyllodoce empetriformis.

Plus a couple more shrubby ones that I've not seen down below, false azalea, Menziesia ferruginea, and

white-flowered rhododendron, Rhododendron albiflorum. Someone didn't have to work very hard to come up with a Latin name that time.

This delicate pinky, not a heath, is subalpine spirea, Spirea densiflora.  Its congener, hardhack (S. douglasii), which has steeple-shaped flowerheads, forms daunting plantations in damp, disturbed, sub-subalpine sites throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond.

Ho-ho, Cornus canadensis (bunchberry).  A specimen clump right on the trail.  It's also called dwarf dogwood, for reasons of both appearance and relatedness.

And finally a favourite old oddball, skunk cabbage, Lysichiton americanum. There were large patches around and creeping into ponds, and small clumps near seeps.  What's interesting is the time-lag.  900 meters below, where we live, skunk cabbages flower in late-March and early April.  Up here in ear-pop, nosebleed-land, they flower a season later.  And the blueberries on the mountain are just now flowering.  At sea level, they have been bearing ripe fruit for a few weeks.  You can see how this might make spring and early summer a difficult time for bears, who want to go where the berries are.  Changing elevations changes things for them too, and often not in a rewarding way.

3 comments:

M. Goff said...

In that first picture, is there a chance the plant you called Marsh Violet is Deer Cabbage (Nephrophyllidium crista-galli)?

Hugh said...

M. Goff, I think there's a very good good chance I got that one wrong. Thanks for the correction.

biobabbler said...

Your last 2 sentences explain SO WELL some of the very heavy costs of human development upon animals which need to roam to follow the food. If there's a bunch of people and cars etc. where the ripe food is, what do you do?

Kinda like if you were super hungry, totally out of food, and there was a lone grocery store surrounded by crack addled gun happy people. uh...