Tag Archive: flora


I hope you like this one, a wild rose, I think it came out extremely well.

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Rosa spp,

Wild Rose

Often, what is believed to be a wild rose, fluffy pink roses around abandoned home sites, are not wild roses, but the descendants of cultivated roses tough enough to survive without human care. .Roses have been hybridized since Roman times, there are thousands of tough, long-lived hybrids.

True wild roses, the botanical term “species rose,” occur naturally, with no human involvement. There are over 100 species of wild rose, some native to North America, many from the Orient and Europe. All have five petals and almost all of them are pink. A few species are few white or red, a very few may be yellowish.

Two species, Wood’s Rose (Rosa woodsii) and Nootka Rose (R. nutkana) are common to the Northwest, Western Canada, and parts of Alaska. The image above, from a photograph I took, is of one of those two species. Determining which can be very difficult as they are very similar and each appears in a number of varieties.

Wild roses serve as browse for browse for big game, including moose and deer, from spring through fall. Porcupines and beavers also browse the leaves.

Wild rose hips persist on the plant through much of the winter. Many birds and mammals are sustained by these dry fruits when the ground is covered with snow.

Wild roses hips can be eaten raw or cooked, remove the tiny hairs and seeds in the center. They are used in making jelly and jams and can also be dried to make a tea. Dried leaves can also serve as a tea substitute. Flower petals are great in salads adding a light flavor and beautiful color. Native Americans utilized young shoots as a potherb

The dried leaves are used as a tea substitute. Used as a medicinal plant all over the world for thousands of years wild roses are mentioned many old manuscripts and even in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. Wild rose hips contain citric acid, flavonoids, fructose, malic acid, sucrose, tannins, vitamins A, B3, C, D, E, and P, calcium, phosphorus, iron, rutine, hesperidin and zinc. Research indicates that wild roses may aid in halting or reversing the growth of cancers. Rose hips are also known to lower saturated fats and triglycerides, helping to control blood pressure. The seed is rich in vitamin E and an oil extracted from the seed is used externally in the treatment of burns, scars and wrinkles. A poultice of the chewed leaves is used in an emergency to allay the pain of bee stings.

Europeans utilized hips as a source of Vitamins A and C. Rose hip powder was used as a flavoring in soups and for making syrup. . The leaves were steeped for tea, petals were eaten raw, in salads, candied, or made into syrup. The inner bark was smoked like tobacco, and dried petals were stored for perfume.

If you have ever eaten a rose hip you may have noticed that it may taste somewhat apple like. The interior of a rose hip, and the seeds, may also remind you of an apple. That is not an accident. The Rosaceae (The rose family) includes not only roses, but also the genus Prunus (plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and almonds), as well as raspberries and strawberries.

Continuing with this summer’s botanical series here’s a very tasty wild fruit that you have probably never heard of though species grow in Alaska, the Lower 48 and parts of Canada. I can attest that the Saskatoon makes for great pies and syrup. They can be added to cereal or muffins, dried as “raisins,” or just eaten fresh.

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amelanchier alnifolia

The Saskatoon, Amelanchier alnifolia

The Saskatoon tastes rather like a blueberry with almond added. There are several species in North America. At least one species is native to every U.S. state except Hawaii and to every Canadian province and territory. Two species also occur in Asia, and one in Europe. Amelanchier species can be anywhere from about six inches to sixty feet tall. The origin of the generic name Amelanchier is probably derived from amalenquièr, amelanchièr, the Provencal l names of the European Amelanchier ovalis. Members of the rose family, Amelanchiers are related to hawthorns, crabapples, cherries, plums, and peaches.

The various species of Amelanchier are known by several common names: shadbush, shadwood, shadblow, serviceberry, sarvisberry, wild pear, juneberry, sugarplum, wild-plum and chuckley pear. Pigeonberry was once also used. The name serviceberry comes from the similarity of the fruit to the related European Sorbus (Ash); it is also said that their flowers heralded the roads in the Appalachian mountains becoming passable, which meant that the circuit-riding preachers would be coming soon and church services would resume; also, that the ground was thawed enough to dig graves, and funeral services could be had for those who died over the winter. Shadberry refers to the shad runs in certain New England streams, which generally took place about when the trees bloomed.

The name Saskatoon originated from the Cree Indian name misâskwatômina (misāskwatōmina, misaaskwatoomina) for Amelanchier alnifolia, the species found in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada and Alaska.

In some areas the Serviceberry was included in pemmican, a combination of minced dried meat and fat, as a flavoring and preservative.

Amelanchier plants are preferred browse for deer and rabbits. Caterpillars of various moth species, as well as various other herbivorous insects feed on Amelanchier.

Saskatoons are harvested commercially and several named cultivars have been developed. Canadian growers are promoting the Saskatoon as a superfruit. Saskatoon berries contain significant Daily Value amounts of total dietary fiber, vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and biotin, and essential minerals, iron and manganese, a nutrient profile similar to the content of blueberries.

Saskatoons also contain significant amounts of polyphenol antioxidants, again, similar in composition to blueberries.

Pineflower

Here’s something you may not know.

Pines and other coniferous trees do not really have flowers; but they do have male and female cones. The woody cone, called a strobilus, you are familiar with is the mature, seed bearing, female cone. The reddish purple strobili below are of the Western White Pine (Pinus monticola); Idaho’s state tree.

You might also notice a specimen of Idaho wildlife.

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Immature female strobili of Pinus monticola

Pineflower

This image is available on many items at my Zazzle store .

Male cones, which produce pollen, are usually herbaceous and may go unnoticed, even when mature, unless you look for them. The name “cone” derives from the fact that the shape in some species resembles a geometric cone. The individual plates of a cone are known as scales.

The male cones of most conifer species are rather similar. Female cones are more variable across species in both structure and color when immature. Female cones are often used to identify conifer species.

For most species, male and female cones occur on the same plant (tree or shrub), with female usually on the higher branches towards the top of the plant. This distribution is thought to improve chances of cross-fertilization, as pollen is unlikely to be blown vertically upward within the crown of one plant, but can drift slowly upward in the wind, blowing from low on one plant to higher on another plant. In some conifers, male cones additionally often grow clustered in large numbers together, while female cones are more often produced singly or in only small clusters.

A further characteristic arrangement of pines is that the male cones are located at the base of the branch, while the female at the tip (of the same or a different branchlet). However, in larches and cedars, both types of cones are always at the tips of short shoots, while both types of fir cones are always from side buds, never terminal.

Tiger Lily

One of my favorite wildflowers because the color stands out against all the green this time of year.

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tiger lily

Lilium columbianum

There are several species of lily species in North America which share the common name “Tiger Lily.” The species native to the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia (Lilium columbianum) is also known as the Columbia Lily, and the Small-Flowered Tiger Lily.

The lightly-scented flowers can be yellowish, but are usually orange. The spots are a dark purple. It can be found in drier coastal meadows, forests, roadsides, and subalpine meadows.

Lilium columbianum occurs in open woods and forest openings from southern British Columbia south to northern California and east to Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

Several West Coast and Californian Native American tribes ate the species’ bitter or peppery-tasting bulbs. Dried Lilium columbianum is also eaten all around the world but it is not well known for it. Dried whole L. columbianum has a sweet and a sour taste. Unlike many native lilies, it is not particularly rare, but picking the flowers is discouraged as it impairs the ability of the plant to reproduce.

This is the same group of Bunchberry plants
that I pictured some time ago. Shown later in the year. A bit worse for wear as is evident, but with nice red berries.

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Bunchberry with berries

Bunchberry; With Berries

Bunchberry, along with a few others, such as Thimbleberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Huckleberry, and Pacific Elderberry, are some of my favorite plants.

As usual, this image is available on a number of items at my Zazzle store.

Fireweed

Fireweed – Epilobium augistifolium

The species name angustifolium is a portmanteau of the Latin words angusti meaning ‘narrow’, and folium meaning ‘leaf’. It shares this name with other species of plant including Vaccinium angustifolium.

In mid to late summer Fireweed begins blooming in the middle of the stalk, with each successive flower blooming just above the one before it. When the last flowers bloom, at the top of the stalk, it is considered a sign that summer, or tourist season, has ended. At that time the earliest blooms seed and turn to cotton. When the fireweed turns to cotton, Alaskans say there are about six weeks until winter begins.

Epilobium agustifolium

Epilobium agustifolium

Fireweed is often seen in open fields, pastures, and particularly burned-over lands; the common name Fireweed derives from the species’ abundance as a coloniser on burnt sites after forest fires. As a pioneer species it quickly colonizes open areas with little competition, makes it a clear example of a pioneer species. Plants grow and flower as long as there is open space and plenty of light, as trees and brush grow larger the plants die out, but the seeds remain viable in the soil seed bank for many years, when a new fire or other disturbance occurs that opens up the ground to light again the seeds germinate. Some areas with heavy seed counts in the soil, after burning, can be covered with pure dense stands of this species and when in flower the landscape is turned into fields of color.

In Britain the plant was considered a rare species in the 18th century; confined to a few locations with damp, gravelly soils. The plant’s rise from local rarity to widespread weed seems to have occurred at the same time as the expansion of the railway network, and the associated soil disturbance. The plant became locally known as bombweed due to its rapid colonization of bomb craters in the second world war.

Reddish stems are usually simple, erect, smooth, 1½–8 feet high with scattered alternate leaves.

Reddish-brown seed capsules bear many minute brown seeds, about 300 to 400 per capsule and 80,000 per plant. The seeds have silky hairs to aid wind dispersal and are very easily spread by the wind, often becoming a weed and a dominant species on disturbed ground. Once established, the plants also spread extensively by underground roots, an individual plant eventually forming a large patch.

The leaves of Fireweed are unique in that the leaf veins are circular and do not terminate on the edges of the leaf, but form circular loops and join together inside the outer leaf margins. This feature makes the plants very easy to identify in all stages of growth. When Fireweed first emerges in early spring, it can closely resemble several highly toxic members of the lily family, however, it is easily identified by its unique leaf vein structure.

The young shoots were often collected in the spring by Native American people and mixed with other greens. As the plant matures the leaves become tough and somewhat bitter. The southeast Native Americans use the stems in the stage. They are peeled and eaten raw. When properly prepared soon after picking they are a good source of vitamin C and pro-vitamin A. The Dena’ina add fireweed to their dogs’ food. Fireweed is also a medicine of the Upper Inlet Dena’ina, who treat pus-filled boils or cuts by placing a piece of the raw stem on the afflicted area. This is said to draw the pus out of the cut or boil and prevents a cut with pus in it from healing over too quickly.

The root can be roasted after scraping off the outside, but often tastes bitter. To mitigate this, the root is collected before the plant flowers and the brown thread in the middle removed.

In Alaska, candies, syrups, jellies, and even ice cream are made from fireweed. Monofloral honey made primarily from fireweed nectar has a distinctive, spiced flavor.

In Russia, its leaves were often used as tea substitute and were even exported, known in Western Europe as Kapor tea. Fireweed leaves can undergo fermentation, much like real tea. Today, Kapor tea is still occasionally consumed though not commercially important.