Nature Notes

Vol. VIII September, 1930 No. 10

Flowers as summer fades

Autumn brings color. Rich combinations of reds, yellows, browns and golds have been splashed generously about "The Mountain's" slopes by the artist, Nature. Huckleberries are ripe. Great, luscious blue-black berries are found in large quantities on the Low-bush huckleberry. So it is now--particularly after a sample--that we discover why this species bears the botanical name of Vaccinnium delicosium. "Delicosium"--delicious indeed!

Here and there in these same meadows, so replete with huckleberry, we find. the latest of our flowers--the Blue Gentian. Many feel that this is also the most beautiful of our flowers. Nor can they be far wrong at that! Its bright green foliage and its single deep blue bell-shaped flower is certainly the most attractive of our late flowers. Most distinctive however, are the seed pods of the Western Anemone (Pulsitilla occidentalis). These shaggy seed pods which indicate the former abundance of the large cream-white blossoms of one of our earliest flowers--for the Western Anemone comes right on the heels of the Avalanche Lily--have been attracting the lion's share of attention in the sub-alpine meadows for several weeks. soon the harsh fall winds will scatter the silky threads, each with a seed attached, in every direction.

However, the color along the streams vies with the brilliance of the autumnal hillsides. There is the mimulus--red and yellow--growing along the banks of the rivulets that cascade down the hillsides. And so colorful is the display that often, though the stream be obscured from view at a distance by the vegetation along its banks the brilliance of the mimulus enables us to trace the course of the stream. The Red Mimulus grows rather tall; its bright red flowers sharply contrasted with its luxuriant green foliage. Monkey-flower it is sometimes called for someone has seen, in the shape of its bloom the features of a grinning ape. Its common name, Lewis' Mimulus, commemorates the memory of that famous explorer, Lewis, who with Clark made that memorable journey to the Pacific Coast years ago. The Yellow Mimulus is a small plant often growing amid the mats of light green moss that covers the rocks in the streams.

seed pod of western anemone and grass of parnassus
seed pod of western anemone and grass of parnassus

Another stream plant is the Grass of Parnassus, a member of the Saxifrage family, that has to be observed closely to be really appreciated.

Then in the lowlands autumn has decked many of the plants in a striking fashion. Red berries are the rule! Most showy are the red fruits of one of our Elderberries and they attract more than their share of attention from motorists who drive along the wooded road below Longmire. The Devil's Club is also very conspicuous--not only because of its large maple-like leaves, but because of the dense cluster of red berries which it bears at this time.

At this time, too, we understand why our Canda Dogwood (Cornus canadensis) is often referred to as Bunchberry. These miniature editions of the Dogwood now enliven the sombre woods with the bright red of their fruit. Everyone knows the Mountain Ash. Its berries are also bright red now--or nearly so, depending upon the elevation at which it is found. And thus summer passes in a blaze of colorful glory!


blue gentian and red mimulus
blue gentian and red mimulus

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