It’s been an early, warm spring and with that comes Rhodie-fever. Rhododendrons abound in the PNW. Numerous varieties adorn yards. I waited with baited breath to see what color the ones in my yard would be (purple, a gorgeous purple). Wild ones dot the woods, clumping under canopy openings and along forest margins and roads.
Anderson Lake State Park is a place I’ve blogged about many times. It’s close and always affords me a walk in solitude, especially during the week.
I was on a rhododendron mission that day.
The Pacific Rhododendron, AKA California Rhod. grows to 20+’ tall in these parts. Over 1,000 species beautify the world with the tallest stretching up to 100′. The Arctic has a wee, inch tall ground hugging variety. Their range extends from Coastal B.C to Northern CA. In WA they meet the coastline and stretch into the mountains (esp. the Olympics). Thriving in the understory, most preferring forest openings and the edges of forest.
Blooming begins in April or May. They bloom earlier at lower elevations. Leaves are leathery, thick and evergreen. They will curl up for protection in cold weather. The plant provides cover for critters but little to no nutritional value. Leaves and flowers contain toxins. In fact, humans have become very ill (heart palpitations, GI upset) from ingesting honey from bees who have fed on rhodies extensively. Livestock have died from ingesting the leaves.
This is the state flower of WA. I find them stunning, such a cheery pop of color in a technicolor green woods.
It was a lovely day for a hike. Fresh, spring green perks up the year-round dark greens.
Fern fronds unroll.
I came across two oddball plants I’d never seen before. This one below is a Groundcone, a plant that hitches onto other plants’ roots and saps nutrients from those roots. A bit of trivia: A single plant can produce more than 1/3 of a million seeds. The roots were sometimes eaten raw by Natives.
Not entirely sure about this one as it has no flowers. I wonder if it is Spotted Coralroot with unopened flowers?
The Lake was calm under the grey sky.
Yellow Pond Lily (AKA Waterlily) floated in patches by the shore. The rhizomes they bloom from are huge, up to 1′ wide and 15′ long. Though bitter, AK natives used parts of the plants for numerous ailments. Some also ate the plant’s seeds and a different variety’s rhizomes (not this one).
The salal are still in bloom.
This pretty ground covering plant is False Lily of the Valley.
In stark contrast, on a rocky, exposed and sunny hillside there are patches of Stonecrop. The succulent leaves are orange in places, so pretty next to the pale green leaves.
And lastly, The dried blooms from last years Oceanspray. New blooms will soon form.