Friday, August 12, 2016

Under wraps

On the dry meadow tucked between the Oyster Bay shore and the highway, life goes on in layers. High above, swallows swoop and wheel, chattering as they go. A heron flies by on his way to better fishing grounds. Treetops tremble in the wind.

Down at my level, in blistering sunlight unrelieved by any hint of a breeze, butterflies dance; cabbage whites and purplish coppers. Grasshoppers lead me in a merry (for them) chase, some hopping, others darting here and there over the gumweed until they settle again, just out of sight. Bees hurry through the gumweed; so much to harvest, so little time! Something keeps up a constant, raspy chirp, more grasshoppers, probably.

From my ankles down, there is a bit of shade, a slightly cooler microclimate, full of busy life. I find a clear spot and sit on the moss. It is crispy and hot on top, but an inch below the surface, there is moisture and the roots are soft. Ants and spiders dash about between the stems of the plants; wild strawberry, fragrant yarrow, grasses, mini-clover and silver burweed.

There's one plant I don't recognize. It's hard to see clearly, short stems surrounded by leaves all tied up in white wool, hiding their shapes. There are no flowers.

Wooly plants, in context.

The leaves are opposite, toothed, or maybe palmate. There may be a bud in the centre top.

Old leaves dry up and turn charcoal grey.

I took the first two photos in July. After I couldn't find them in any book or website, I went back this afternoon to get a better look, hoping for flowers or new growth.

After a week of rain, they're leafier; green leaves covered with white wool. No flowers, no flower stalks.

I've gone through every page in my guide, Googled and Googled and Googled again, thinking up new search terms. No luck.

Does anyone out there recognize these?

The arrows point to the shore. The meadow is where the highway veers off from the shore.


  1. They remind me of the flower garden plant I call Dusty Miller. Not sure if that helps any! I enjoy reading your blog!

  2. The lack of flowers, visible ones, anyhow, makes it difficult. I'm heading back there this afternoon, with a big lens, to look for tiny characteristics.

  3. A very interesting and unusual plant. We've been planning a trip to the Campbell River area for next summer. We'll bring our quads and stay at the new camp built especially for off-road vehicle campers. We enjoyed exploring Whistler and Texada Island this summer. It's the first time we ventured beyond the Powell River area. - Margy

    1. We'll have to get together when you're here, maybe do some wandering together. I'd love to see you again!

  4. Replies
    1. I've got a list of all the Artemisia of BC, and have looked at the most likely. So far, nothing quite matches. I'll check out all the rest tomorrow.


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