Nature Notes

Vol. XII July, 1934 No. 7

Midsummer Flowers

red heather, shooting star, pipsissewa

The flora of Mt. Rainier Nat'l park is so rich in variety at this season that to describe or illustrate even its salient features in the small space available is almost an impossible task. In the deep woods of the Canadian Zone the earliest flowers are now a thing of the past and we find the trails now lined with the waxy blossom of the Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), the Twinflower (Linnea borealis L. var. americana) and others such as the two most common pyrolas (P. bracteata and P. secunda). Queenscup also enlivens the woods with the beauty of its single white flower and clumps of Canadian Dogwood (Cornus canadensis) are very common. Hidden by its foliage we find beautiful bell-like flowers in loose clusters in the axils of the leaves and we recognize it as the Fairy Bells (Disporum oregonum).

There are many others in th deep woods worthy of notice but the alpine meadows are approaching their prime and we find the Red Heather (Phyllodoce empetriformis) and its two closely related species - Yellow (P. glandulifera) and White Heather (Cassiope mertensiana) coming into their own. It is in this zone that we often find numerous habitats within a small area. Cliffs, possessing but little moisture and earth, support many plants that prefer this habitat. Here one finds the Penstemon rupicola. Nearby we many often find a boggy spot caused by the accumulation of water from melting snows and there the Shooting Star (Dodecathen jefferyii) will most likely be found. Hillsides with north and south exposures often harbor different plants on opposite sides - being particularly noticeable in the case of the Paintbrushes, Castilleja miniata (cerise) preferring the moister slopes and C. oreopoloa (flame red) liking drier soils.

Thus summer and its floral brilliance again comes to "The Mountain". (C.F.B.)

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An Interesting Plant

Many animals eat plants but there is a plant that eats animals! At least it absorbs the body tissues of certain kinds of animals for the victims of the Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) are small insects that are foolish enough to come to rest upon or crawl over its spatulate leaves. These leaves are surrounded with numerous red, gland-bearing bristles, the glands exuding a clear glutinous fluid which appear as glittering drops in the sunlight, as does the dew -- hence the common name of the plant.

Unfortunate is the hapless insect that becomes emeshed in the sticky fluid for the bristles soon enfold it, and after it has died, hold it's carcass until the mineral constituents, principally nitrogen, are absorbed by the plant.

The Sundew is a common plant in the park in the marshy soil of the swampy meadow about Longmire Springs. Being small and as it grows in a place that is not pleasant for the average person not properly sod to walk the Sundew is not generally seen in its native habitat by the average visitor. On the porch of the museum one finds a specimen however in company with other flowers of the floral display. Needless to say when its animal eating habits are made known it is generally the center of interest.



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