Nature Notes

Vol. XI October - 1933 No. 8

'By Their Fruits - We Shall Know Them.'

The biblical phrase which titles this article aptly describes many of our flowering plants at this season. All of them, of course, bear fruit or seeds but in some of these this character is so unique or conspicuous that the beauty and interest of the plant in the fall season easily outstrips its spring beauty.

Throughout the summer one may have wondered along the woodland trails where the Western Yew tree grows and, in spite of several distinctions, failed to recognize it as something other than a conifer or cone bearing tree. The foliage of the Yew is very similar in general appearance to that of some of its forest associates. But at this season we cannot fail to note the difference. The fruit - a small hard seed partially surrounded by a brilliant red, jelly-like covering or aril - is sharply contrasted to the green of the tree's foliage. It cannot, in any way be confused with a cone, and so the Yew at this season, stands very much apart from its associates.

Avalanche Lily
Queenscup and Avalanche Lily

All along the roads within the park - and beyond its borders too in some places - we see the bright red berries of the Red Elderberry and we find, too, the large attractive leaves of the Devil's Club (attractive so long as one does not touch them) rendered even more conspicuous by the spike of brilliant crimson berries that characterizes this plant at this time.

Sweet After Death

One of the most attractive of the herbacious plants in late summer and early fall is the Queenscup or Alpine Beauty. By this time the single white flower has given way to a beautiful turquois berry that adequately holds the interest of the flower lover in this plant. And where we have been accustomed to finding a multitude of blooms of the familiar Avalanche Lily we now find in their place seed pods instead. Unfortunately the flower of this plant is so beautiful that the seed pod, however interesting, would have a hard time measuring up to its predecessor's standards. This is not the case of the Western Anemone though! True - the flower is beautiful in the early summer; but the seed pods - shaggy mops of silken strands, each strand attached to a seed - are to most people far more interesting than the flower which they probably have not even associated with the unique fruit cluster of the late summer. There is one interesting thing in the case of this latter plant. The flower blooms upon a short stem but a few inches above the ground. There is no need for the plant to be raised higher at that season. But as the season progresses the stem continues to grow until when the seeds are ripe and ready for dessimination the plant is some twelve to fourteen inches tall. The reason? This plant depends up the wind to scatter its seeds and so it raises its cluster of seeds, high so that the wind may accomplish its purpose in this regard to better advantage.

White Rhododendron and Salal

In the case of the Sweet-After-Death the feathery white cluster of flowers give way to a small but unique crescent-shaped fruit. The flowers of the White Rhododendron find their destiny in the capsule which eventually splits into five parts to scatter the seeds. The familiar Salal - of which two species are found in the park - bears dark blue (almost black) berry while the Oregon Grape receives its name not from the flower but from the fruit. So does the Huckleberry. There's a natural fruit that's really appreciated!


Click to see a copy of the pages of the original article (~111K)

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>