Sunday, April 26, 2015

Discoveries in the shade

 Our trail took us through a dark, dense stand of young pines where hardly any blooming flowers were seen.  Any change in the grey-brown background color was likely to get out attention.  So, I got excited when I saw a small patch of bright yellow barely breaking ground.  I could tell right away it was some sort of spring mushroom.  I decided to give it a little help by removing some of the pine duff.  Then my wife remarked, "Oh, look, it's three."  I agreed, but then had to add, "but, to a mycologist or a Buddhist monk, it's all One."
 A little further along the trail I spotted a White-veined Wintergreen.  No flowers yet, but the decorative leaves really stand out.  As easy as this is to identify, I have to give myself a refresher course every spring because two other plants that grow in this same habitat keep getting confused in my memory bank.  One is the Prince's Pine which, like the wintergreen, is in the same family at Manzanita, Ericaceae, variously known as the heath family or the wintergreen family.  The other plant that somewhat resembles this one, especially before the flowers bloom, is the Rattlesnake Plantain, which is actually an orchid, not a plantain.
 On this same walk we spotted a few more colorful wildflowers in the sunny spots.  I'll save those for another post.  They include the first blooming Red Larkspur I've seen on this trail and the first buds of Scarlet Fritillary. 

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