Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wet feet

Campbell River is a long strip of a town; it stretches some 20-odd kilometres along the shore, but at its widest spot, it's barely 2 km. wide. Going east from my place, within minutes I'm off the pavement, driving on meandering, pot-holed gravel roads, seemingly going somewhere, but as often as not petering out into trailheads or just stopping in the middle of the bush, as if the road builders finally ran out of gas.

I love these roads. Even when the potholes are deep enough to hold goldfish, even when I have to crawl along at barely walking pace to keep my teeth in my head, even when I have no idea where I am -- I forgot my GPS again! Because the slower I have to go, the more I get to see. Birds and plants and beckoning trails and unexpected viewpoints; I keep having to park and walk about a while before I drive on.

On the Iron River Road ( I could never find the Iron River on the map, but for a while the road parallels something called the Lower Lost Frog. I couldn't find the poor frog, either; maybe he's in the Iron River.) ... the road is built up to cross a shallow, muddy pool, mostly mud on one side of the road, deeper water on the other. There, a celery-like plant grows in abundance, with its feet in the water, or entirely underwater.

These are completely submerged.

And these have their feet in water.

Zooming in. I think these are Pacific water-parsely, Oenanthe sarmentosa.

This is a perennial in the carrot family. Later it will have clusters of white flowers, similar to those of Queen Anne's Lace, but it's a water lover, growing in bogs and sloughs, along creeks and marshes.

Closer to home on the same road, but out in the open at the edge of the road, I passed a clump of another carroty plant, the cow-parsnip, Heracleum lanatum.

(UPDATE) Dave Wenning, on Twitter, identified this as Petasites frigidus var. palmatus, the Palmate Coltsfoot. The stem leaves and the hint of pink in the flowers fit the coltsfoot better, although the plants were taller than the 20 cm. given as the maximum height. The photo on Wikipedia doesn't look right, but the drawing does.

The tallest of these were only knee-high. It's early in the season.

But they're all blooming already.

And the soldier beetles are busy pollinating.

This plant is sometimes confused with the extremely poisonous water-hemlock. Plants of Coastal British Columbia gives a helpful tip: the lateral leaf veins of the hemlock end at the base of the teeth along the edge of the leaves; in cow-parsnip and other "carrotty" plants, they end at the tip. (Look at the first photo, above.)

More roadside plants, tomorrow.


  1. You sure know how to explore! - Margy

  2. Have the herring come through this year yet? When I was in Comox in March a few years back, the herring spawn brought a lot of discoveries to the beach.

  3. Tim, I must have missed it. I've been watching for concentrations of birds on the beach, but haven't seen any, although a bit south of here, they're saying it was a good spawn this year.


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