Nature Notes

Mount Rainier National Park

Vol. II July 16, 1924 No. 5

Issued weekly during the summer season, monthly during the remainder of the year by the Nature Guide Service.
F.W. Schmoe,
Park Naturalist.
O. A. Tomlinson,


The name Avalanche lily commonly used in this locality to designate the Erythronium monatanum is of local origin. In other sections of the wide range inhabited by the Erythronium this lovely little lily is known variously as deer tongue, dog-tooth violet and adder's tongue but for the high meadows of Mount Rainier National Park no name could be more appropriate than avalanche lily. As one looks upon an entire hillside covered with a waving mass of white flowers growing so closely together than no sign of green shows through the resemblance to a shifting avalanche of snow is quite apparent.

The volcanic soil and peculiar climatic conditions of the high valleys produces the finest specimens of this lily that the writer has ever known. Differing from the eastern species which have only one flower on a plant the avalanche lily commonly has from two to three and four are often found. The largest number of blossoms on one stalk that we have found is ten, on a plant growing in Van Trump Park last season.

The stalk grows from two very green lanceolate leaves, stands from six to ten inches high and produces six-petaled white flowers with yellow centers that are often four inches in diameter but more commonly only two and a half to three inches.

There is also a yellow species of Erythronium which is not so plentiful but still quite abundant early in the season. At present only a few patches of the yellow variety may be found. The white is still the dominant flower of the open parks. It has reached the height of its season and is already beginning to disappear lower in the meadows.

No satisfactory description of these natural flower gardens has yet come to the writer's notice nor does he expect to be able to write one now. On passing through a dense cluster of alpine trees and emerging for the first time into one of these wild gardens one of the most noted of the botanical visitors to the Park stopped and repeated the word, "Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!" This was the only verdict of a man whose long and successful life had been devoted to botanical research not only in his own fatherland but in nearly every country in the world. He stood until his companions were nearly out of sight, hastening to reach the hotel in time for lunch, breathing in the fragrance of the flowers and scanning the delightful vista before his unmindful of more bodily wants.

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>