The identification of violets isn’t as easy as I expected. There are well over 500 species worldwide, with many indigenous to North America.
For a long time, I figured this little gem was the Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia), but those are from the eastern side of the continent. Now I reckon it is either the Western Dog Violet (Viola adunca) or the very similar Alaska Violet (Viola langsdorfii) – both common on Vancouver Island.
I consider it a special bonus that these lawn jewels are native to the Pacific Northwest (and beyond) — because for local wildlife, especially spring pollinators, this is comfort food.
Wild violets have been an addition to human diets as well – long before they became trendy as colour in salads. I can’t say I’ve gathered any for supper, but it is kinda cool thinking of our lawn as an extension of the veggie garden.
I bet you can guess my response to this meadow of shooting stars? (Dodecatheon)
C, SM & I are exploring Dean Park when I drop to my knees to check out (& photograph ) the pretty spring flowers,
SM is charmed.
C smiles indulgently & waits …
The vibrant magenta colors look so perky! How can these delicate cyclamen-style bloom be tough enough to survive our temperamental spring weather?
Further down the trail there’s pollen everywhere – in the air, along path edges… even settling on plants & making them look different. At first glance I thought I’d found a special variegated salal. Check out the leaf with pollen & without:
I’m not sure exactly where the pollen is from. There’s so much of it I figure it’s got to be from the most dominant species of tree in this park. Perhaps the douglas fir?
Cones mottle the ground. SM confirms they’re douglas fir. She tells me a story about the little mice that hide inside the cones, with only their tails poking out between the layers. Pretty cute, eh?
In another small clearing is a meadow of fawn lily (erythronium).
I’m used to seeing them in a more open meadow at Beacon Hill Park, so it’s nice to see they prosper in the dappled shade of the forest edge too. Of course I need a closer look. This time C smiles indulgently, but continues on his way. (He’s here for the fresh air & exercise).
It’s a little tough to see into the face of the fawn lily because of its nodding head but I reckon that is its way to protect those private bits from the occasional downpour. Can’t you just imagine the bees taking refuge under a fawn lily umbrella? Keeping company with a fairy or two ….
There are many wild violets growing in our garden, some pink and some blue. Years ago I heard about a wild yellow violet. I finally saw a small clump in a Washington State Park last year. But that’s pretty much it. Today SM points out one to me. It is so tiny! I’d easily have missed it completely, walking right past none the wiser. It’s so nice to see them growing locally.
Then SM spies a wild orchid. OMG !!!
I’ve only ever heard of the fairy slipper (calypso bulbosa) .
We’ve got to invite SM along on our hikes more often. 🙂
I’m running around with the camera – up & down… this angle & that one… Bucket list moment !!
C misses the entire thing.
He’s down the trail. When he comes across another native plant he knows I’ll be excited about, he decides to sit until I catch up…
Trillium Is not your typical flower. When the bloom first opens, the petals are white. Over time they turn pink. It’s two plants in the space of one.
Trillium is from the Latin ‘in 3’s’.
3 leaves circle the stem.
3 sepals frame the flower
3 petals highlight the bloom
the stamens are set in groups of 3.
there are 3 chambers to the seed pod
I reckon it looks slightly alien.
With so much of interest in the groundcover I’ve barely looked up at all.
SM asks me about a tall, rangey shrub just coming into leaf. This time I’m the one to help with ID. Salmonberry is one of the early spring shrubs. I first noticed its flowers while horseback riding through the Sooke Hills.
About the same time these bright fuchsia flowers bloom, the rufous hummingbirds return for the season. Kismet.
I once planted salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) in our garden but later realized that a pretty flower & tasty berries didn’t balance with my aversion to growing anything with thorns. Now I just enjoy salmonberries in the wild.
March, April & May are fabulous times to view the native flowers around Victoria. Before I’m ready, many of them disappear into dormancy. It’s their way of surviving our long dry summers. Seems kinda backwards, doesn’t it? We often wait for the summer warmth before heading outdoors, and before it even gets too hot, the big show is over.