"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oregon Botany 101

Oregon has trees, grasses and flowers, like most places. But what Oregon also has en masse that makes it unique (in my experience) is lichens, mosses and ferns.  Throw is some skunk cabbage and carnivorous flowers and you've got the botanical picture.

Let me show you one at a time. First lichens. There are many many kinds of lichens and the internet has some great sites devoted to them. I've seen a few different kinds so far. Probably more than I know I'm seeing.

These look like moose antlers.

These are the thin fibers that make up the lichen that I think is called Old Man's Beard. Although it looks a lot like Spanish moss, it's not.

 As soon as we crossed into Oregon the lichens took over the landscape, covering most of the deciduous trees and some of the evergreens. The leaves had not yet come out, so we got a full look at the extent of their coverage. Frankly, I thought it was just ugly. It made the trees look dead. Botanists insist that lichens and mosses do not harm the trees, except when they get too heavy with absorbed water and break off branches.

Next, mosses. They cover the trees in some places, as well as rocks.

Now, ferns. There are also many kinds of ferns, and I don't know any of the names, except for a few domesticated ones that were in my garden. Here are some of the wild ones.

Of course you find these three stars of the botanical show in all kinds of combinations.

Mosses and ferns.

Lichens and mosses.

Mosses and lichens.

Finally, a couple of others to round out the picture. There are skunk cabbage here that bloom. I've never seen blooming skunk cabbage back east.

And the grand finale, cobra lilies, a kind of pitcher plant that eats bugs.

The bugs crawl down their "throats" and can't get out. They have little transparent windows that the bugs throw themselves against to try to get out, but somehow that makes it worse. Anyway, they fall to the bottom in a puddle of digestive juices, and the plant then makes use of the vitamins and minerals from the digested bugs.

Shall I give a quiz in the next blog?

1 comment:

  1. Cool photos. And the biology lesson was informative. Makes me think about spending a little more time on a hiking trail to look at the environment.


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