Nature Notes

Mount Rainier National Park

Vol. VIII May, 1930 No. 5

Issued monthly during the winter months, semi-monthly during the summer months by the Mt. Rainier Nat'l Park Nature Guide Service.
C. Frank Brockman,
Park Naturalist.
O. A. Tomlinson,

The First Flower
sketch of Sweet Coltsfoot

Heralding the coming of the new season, with the abundant and diversified flora that has made this National Park famous, comes the Sweet Coltsfoot (Petasites speciosa) -- a flower not possessed of any great deal of beauty and one that would, no doubt, be entirely over looked at a later date when other, more favored species lend their beauty to the forest or to the alpine meadows. At this early date, however, it is appreciated because of what it signifies.

We found it growing on moist banks near streams, as a general rule, and from its creeping root-stalks grow the thick flower stems which bear a cluster of purple-white flower heads -- for it is a member of the Composite or Sunflower family.

The first of these was noticed near the Nisqually Entrance (elev. 2003') on March 30th but now they are quite abundant in suitable locations beyond Longmire.

...and on the heels of the Coltsfoot!

Then, as if by signal from the Coltsfoot the leaf buds of the Cottonwood trees burst and the Trillium first becomes evident. This latter plant comes natural by its name for the petals, sepals and leaves are in threes. Sparkling white at first it gradually changes to purple as age dims its beauty. Through the baggy soils along the edges of swampy areas come the bright yellow spathe of the well known Skunk Cabbage. Later we observe the spadix, upon which are clustered the flowers and which was enclosed by the spathe. Bears relish the root stalks of this plant and often we find, in the moist ground evidence of Bruin's recent presence. The leaves of the Wood Sorrell, looking very much like clover, preceed its delicate white flower while the Yellow Violet or "Johnny-Jump-Up" is very abundant in moist locations. Already the Salmonberry is in bloom as is the Red Currant, and we occasionally hear the hum of a Hummingbird which is migrating up the Mountain as this latter named flower blooms on the upper slopes. And yet, but a short distance from where these flowers may be found, deep drifts of snow still clothe the landscape.

sketch of Skunk Cabbage, Trillium
skech of Yellow Violet and Wood Sorrell

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