Sunday, March 23, 2008

Draba verna, lichens, and a "what's this"?

The New Westminster Quay is our banana belt. Between the south-facing, sunny hillside and the river, warmed by broad board walks and reflecting condominium windows, even a few palm trees flourish.

Now, at the end of March, the pink rhododendrons and camelias are in full flower, the beds are bright with pansies, daffodils, red and white bellis pompoms, grape hyacinths, even a few veggies (more about those later).

And I found something unexpected; a drift of white flowers over a mossy meadow.

Well, not exactly; the "meadow" was barely a metre across. The flowers here are under three inches tall; the "tree" is a small shrub.

The flowers are Draba verna, a common weed of disturbed sites. A small basal rosette, a leafless stalk a couple of inches high, and then these flowers. Four petals, widely separated, divided in two almost down to the base. An interesting arrangement.

Look at the seed pods. There is one in plain view in this photo near the centre top; you can distinguish a few more if you click on it to get the full size. They are a long oval shape, slightly flattened, green.

Ok. Now, what are these?

On a single, leafless stalk, arising out of the same area, are these long, brown, sausage-shaped things, like a miniature cattail, more or less. They have the same white button at the tip that the draba seed pods do.

I thought they were part of the moss. But, looking through my books, I see no miniature moss (this stuff is half an inch deep) with tall, upright sporophytes.

What are they? Do any of you know?

And since I'm looking at the tinies, here are several lichens from today's crop.

On a metal piling, at least two, maybe three species here.

On the same piling, another mound of the pumpkin-coloured lichen. One in my book that looks a likely match is the Xantheria polycarpa, a "pincushion". I read that,
"These and other Xantheria species require large quantities of calcium or nitrogen, and they therefore often grow on or near bird droppings."
That explains how it happens to survive on a metal piling; pigeons and seagulls feed it.

And on a tree:

A grey-green leaf lichen, and tiny yellow clumps.


  1. that is a true sight for spring.

    Poulsbo florist

  2. Anonymous2:35 pm

    Hello, this is Roger (Flora Urbana) from Montreal. I just found that littlest of cutie. Well I'm pretty excited as the species is very rare over here. And I found it at a gaz station... From your photographs I can see that the fruits get far longer than I expected. In french the fruits are called "silicules". Here the fruits are just starting to show, so in a few days we'll see if they get as big as in your photographs. Cool to Google the plant and fall on your blog! See ya!

  3. Hi, Roger,

    Glad to see you here. I read your blog often, but don't comment because my written French stumbles.

    Silicules is silicles in English. Almost the same thing.

  4. Susannah you can post any comments in any languages. It would always be welcomed. Do you read my blog in french or do you use Google translate?

    Now I have to finish my post on the Draba verna. The plant makes my day(s)!

  5. I read it in French ok, if slowly; it's just writing that I find difficult.

    Next time, I'll use English.

    (Long ago, when I was just learning Spanish, and I spoke to someone in Spanish, they answered in English. It scarred me for life.:-D )


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