Thursday, May 02, 2013

South slope flowers: Post 1

White Rock is another of our warm spots on the Lower BC Mainland. Most of it is on a steep, south-facing slope, basking in the reflections from a warm bay. Its gardens are luscious, well tended, green all winter and blooming early and late.

Not all the plants are well-behaved. Many tend to escape their gardens and move to the wild areas, especially to the lower slopes. Along the railroad tracks at the bottom of the cliffs, the bush is a grand mix of native plants, exotics gone native, and garden truants; salal and Indian plum tangle their branches with wild roses, broom and blackberries, laburnum, English ivy, apple trees and lilies, and more.

They're all in bloom this week. This is laburnum, an import from Europe, popular in gardens and parks. And happy gone wild, too.

A big tree, just opening its buds.

Dangling raceme, buds barely tipped with yellow.

Half opened flowers
The laburnum belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae. In late summer, it will develop long, dark pods, that become hard and rattly. The "peas", like the rest of the tree, are poisonous.

Other "Pea" plants common to this region are the beach pea (non-poisonous), the wisteria (poisonous), alfalfa and clover (non-p), lupins (non-p, with caution), vetches (p), broom (possibly p.), black medic (non-p), white sweet clover (non-p when fresh, p moldy). It appears that most of the pea family teeters on the edge of toxicity. Even our ordinary garden pea can be dangerous, eaten to excess.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome fact for the day, that "you can poison yourself with peas but it takes some effort". Love it. I even own that particular book (Botany in a Day) and it is sitting next to me, open, but I never read the paragraph on peas.

    I love reading your blog; I'm always learning something new and interesting.

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