Outing: Botany, Harewood Plain, May 7th 2019

Greetings all,

On May 27th eight of us were treated to a brilliant display of later spring flowers at Harewood Plains in Nanaimo.  Our target was to see the red-listed Hosackia pinnata ( formerly Lotus pinnatus) – bog bird’s foot trefoil – and we were not disappointed. The clumps growing in seeps on the rock appear to have been thriving, no doubt largely the result of the work of the “Friends of Harewood Plains” and others.  The substantial fine of $50,000 for being  caught with an ATV or the like in the area appears to be successful as a deterrent .  (The deep gouges made by ATVs and dirt bikes were clearly old.)  Apart from the Hosackia there was a splendid array of plants flourishing in the seeps and shaded areas (whatever was exposed on the rock in the open was already tinder dry).  Outstanding were the banks of interspersed monkey-flower, sea blush,  Menzies larkspur and montia, as well as carpets of Scouler’s popcorn flower, springbank and tomcat clovers, sedums and saxifrages. There was still some lingering camas ( both species) as well as death-camas, native buttercups  and the list goes on.  So timing was good – the Hosackia was in full bloom, with just a few seed heads starting to form.

On the way north we turned onto the Nanoose peninsula to Moorecroft Park which was pleasantly cool among the large fir, cedar and arbutus.   The park includes seashore Garry Oak habitat, which was cordoned off for restoration.  The open headlands are supposed to have the native cactus ( Opuntia fragilis) but it eluded us.

As I indicated before I am now fully occupied with the Strathcona Wilderness Institute’s summer programs.  There will soon be lots of subalpine spring plants in Paradise Meadows.  The marsh-marigolds and kalmia are already in bloom, along with a few shooting stars and the delicate gold thread (Coptis asplenifolia).  There will be the SWI “season opener “ walk at Paradise  Meadows on Sunday June 16th , exact time TBA.  And for the energetic, on July 8th there will be a long day- hike (20 k round trip, with some wet snow) up to Croteau and Circlet Lakes on the Plateau to see the Avalanche lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) .  The first of them are just coming into bloom at Croteau (see photo taken on May 29th).

Since many of you are very familiar with the range of flowering plants up at Paradise Meadows, please consider leading a walk for SWI in July or August.  The tradition of interpretive Nature walks in Strathcona Park has been associated with CVN members since SWI was founded in 1996;  there are a few of us already involved, but SWI always welcomes more botanists, birders etc  to help  visitors  appreciate the natural beauty of Strathcona Park.

Finally, if any of you want to organize an outing, let me know and I can circulate the specifics to the group.

Have a good summer,  Alison

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