Monday, August 01, 2016

Pink ghosts

When I was a very small child living in Tahsis, some sixty-mumble years ago, our house was one of a dozen or so along the Tahsis river bank. In front of us, the road and the river; behind us, nothing but empty tide flats, then the bush. Impassible bush, all intertwined salmonberry and salal, rotting logs and slippery moss.

We went over that way in the canoe once, past the tide flats and up the mouth of another river. When the canoe kept getting stuck in the reeds, Mom insisted that we turn back. People said there were horses over there, and apple trees; I only half believed them. There were none in Tahsis.

Now, of course, there's a highway. And walking trails cut through the bush, winding along the banks of the Leiner River. Easy going, in most spots. Someone had been through just ahead of us, hacking down the everlasting salmonberry canes; they can erase a trail in a few months.

But off the trail, the bush is still the same; tangly, dense, interlocked berry bushes; salmonberry, huckleberry, salal, thimbleberry. Where there's a bit of space, the evergreen ferns take over.

Under this mess of branches and leaves, we found several clumps of Indian pipe plants. Where I could scramble or climb close enough, I took photos.

Indian pipe plant, Monotropa uniflora, aka ghost plant, corpse plant. About 6 to 8 inches tall.

These plants, like the gnome plant, are parasites on fungi that in turn, parasitize trees. They have no chlorophyll, which makes other plants green. Usually they are white, with hints of black or pink. A few may be red.

These are more pinkish.

Flower heads. Each stalk bears one flower only. The flowers hang down at first, then stand upright once they are pollinated and are making seeds.

We passed a few plants that had been broken by the trail maker; they had quickly turned black.

In an abandoned clearing, I found an old apple tree. I didn't see any horses.

The Leiner River trail is just west of our campsite.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this post, I am transported to a world similar to the unforgettable one introduced to me 55 years ago in ""Girl of the Limberlost", , Gene Stratton-Porter. Thank you!

    I grew up on the Great Plains of the U.S.A., and for the last several decades I have lived on arious islands near the eastern shores of East ASIs, so the world you describe in western Canada is new to me.... And your photos, descriptions, and accounts bring it fully alive, and transport the read there beside you.

    Thank you so much!


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