Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Almost, but not quite

Lying between the shady coastal rain-forest environments of the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island, stony, dry, sunny Mitlenatch Island is an oddity. Some of the plants I saw were old favourites, like the salal or the stonecrop, but many were like, but not quite like, the ones I'm familiar with just a few kilometres across the water, nor, with the exception of the prickly pear, were they like the dry country plants of the Chilcotin. I kept asking our patient guide, Christine, "What's this? And this?"

On the government list of rare plants of BC, 8 are found on Mitlenatch Island. Three of these are aquatics, two unusual clovers (tomcat clover, white-tipped clover). There's Carolina foxtail grass, a subspecies of California broomrape that parasitizes gumweed, and Gardner's yampah, in the carrot family. I don't think I saw any of these, but next time I'll come prepared, knowing what to look for.

In spite of the pictures on the information kiosk and local websites, a few of the plants I saw on Mitlenatch Island were hard to identify. I need help with these:

It looks like one of the carrot family, Apiaceae, but is missing the fringe at the top of the stem. I should recognize it, but I don't.

The information board shows the orchid, Ladies tresses. This is similar, but the florets don't seem to be arranged in a spiral. Another orchid, maybe?

Update: this could be Piperia elegans, the hillside rein orchid. Also present on Mitlenatch.

Christine identified this for me. Indian celery, Lomatium nudicaule. Aka Indian consumption plant.

Hooker's onion. The three petals and the flower sheath make this easy to identify. Likes dry places.

At least this was easy; common plantain. Grows anywhere. But what is that beautiful, feathery grass behind it?

A volunteer in the bottom corner of a failed photo of something else. Saskatoon (serviceberry) flowers, past their sell-by date. The fresh flowers are white, the berries a deep purple-blue, and often delicious, depending, I think, on the soil the shrub grows in.

(5th in a series of 9 Mitlenatch Island posts. #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8)


  1. your mystery white flowers may be Piperia elegans,

    the purple one appears to be a type of lovage. Could it be beach lovage?

  2. Piperia elegans looks right. And E-Flora has it reported from Mitlenatch. Thanks!
    Lovage is the right shape, except that it has little leaves at the junction of the stem and the "umbrella" supports.

  3. could it be a hybrid?


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!