Category Archives: Flora

Lanterns of the Pacific Forests

Skunk cabbage.  Species Lysichiton americanum. Also known as Swamp Lantern. This common and distinctive plant is (to me) a signature species for our area and boasts a few unique features. The two common names speak to the two most interesting features of this plant: its odour and its bright yellow colour.

Personally, I love the smell of skunk cabbage — a smell that lets you know you’re on the west coast. It is somewhat musty, a little skunky, but never overpowering. The flower parts of a skunk cabbage are called the spathe which is the yellow flower-like part that is actually a modified leaf  and the spadix which is the central furry-looking stalk that is covered in lots of tiny flowers. The common name Swamp Lantern likely refers to the fact that the spathe/spadix combination is one of the first flowers to be seen, starting in late winter when the bright yellow colour shines against the deep green leaves or white snow. I’ve also read that these amazing plants can generate heat in the winter, up to about 15ºC above freezing, melting the surrounding snow.

A few days ago I was out for a walk with my brother and we came across absolutely enormous skunk cabbages. These were finished flowering, but the leaves were just incredible.

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Filed under Flora, Posts by Hana

A quick outing

We only had an hour of free time today, but took a little drive to the beach. The weather is warming up nicely and it has been sunny all day. We had the beach all to our selves, the air was fresh and a nice swell was coming in. I noticed something that seemed strange: the sound of the breakers seemed louder after walking away from the beach past the first line of trees. We speculated about whether that might be due to the fact that you are more aware of the sound when you’re not right on the beach, or if the sound bounces off the trees and gets amplified. Here is what the trees look like right at the transition between beach and forest:

This beach is part of a National Park. So there are basic facilities in the woods: a ranger’s hut, parking lot, pay phone and these lovely outhouses:

On our drive home, we spotted what I think is a red-tailed hawk:

Not bad for a quick hour puttering around our new neighbourhood.

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Filed under Fauna, Flora, Posts by Hana