The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you. Rain, sun, wind...insects, birds, flowers...meteorites, rocks...seasonal changes...all are worthy additions to the bucket. Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located. Each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.Iceberg Point
San Juan National Monument
early March, 2014
(All photos by me. In Lightbox...click to enlarge)
This is Satinflower, the earliest wildflower to bloom out at Iceberg Point, a rugged rocky promontory in the San Juan Islands.
I got word of its blooming and we hiked out to see. Later in spring and early summer the meadow is a colorful panorama of perennial native wildflowers, but right now only this one brightens the monochromatic expanse, and just on a few steep rocky knolls. After a walk through the forest we emerged into an open meadow, edged by a steep bluff dropping to the rough waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a lovely mild early spring day, calm and sunny. Hiking up onto a rocky hill, this is a view of the shoreline:
Iceberg Point is an 80-acre tract, part of San Juan National Monument, and so now protected from any future development. The legislation was signed into law just one year ago by President Obama. I wrote a bit about it at the time. The grassy area of Iceberg is a unique habitat, created by local Coast Salish Ndns, who regularly burned the site to maintain meadow plants for food and for game forage, until a century ago. The camas, chocolate lily and other perennial herbs they cultivated will bloom in a few months.
We found a patch of Satinflowers on a steep hillside with lichens and grasses. Its current name is Olsynium douglasii var. douglasii, named for Scottish naturalist David Douglas, 1798-1834, who discovered it. A member of the Iris family, each Satinflower has 6 satiny pink tepals and 3 golden anthers.
What a lovely spark of pink after the long dark dormancy of winter! Spring has arrived in the islands of the Pacific Northwest.
A few more native pink delights below...
On the same steep hillside, patches of Broad-leaf Stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium), whose succulent leaves turn a bright pink only in full intense sunlight. It roots in the cracks of bedrock.
In the woods along the way out to the meadow, Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) is just now starting to bloom. This is late. Last year it was blooming in February, a welcome source of nectar for resident Anna's and newly arriving Rufous hummingbirds:
Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum), another pink native nectar shrub, is right on time. Its blooms have just begun and the Rufies have just returned:
We even have a native tree that turns pink in spring, the Red Alder (Alnus rubra, called Red for the color of its inner bark, only visible when cut into). Its thousands of male catkins are pink when ripe. This stage lasts just a few weeks, and is accompanied by masses of alder pollen (achoo!):
Seen from a distance, a mass of alders is a swath of soft pink:
In the meadow at Iceberg there are also masses of pink in the distance, visible all winter long. These are thickets of our native Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana). You can see some encroaching into the grassy meadow on the slopes. Rose thickets and trees will inevitably take over the wildflower meadow if steps are not taken to prevent that. There are discussions about how to do that...even whether to. The meadow will certainly go away otherwise. In my quarter century living here, I've seen noticeable reduction in meadow area already.
Looked at closeup, you can see it's the stems of the rose bushes that create the pink appearance from afar:
Nootka roses are all over the island. The roses are beginning to leaf out in my yard. In June the flowers are just heavenly!
Early spring in the islands of the Salish Sea. How about your backyard? Signs of spring?
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