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Friday, May 13, 2011

Yellow Island Wildflowers: Part 2

In my last post I featured the most abundant wildflower species we saw on Yellow Island, but overall we identified more than 30 plant and flower species. Here are some photos of some of the smaller ones that you had to look more closely to see:

Small-flowered woodland star, also known as small-flowered prairie star, Lithophragma parviflora

Western saxifrage, also known as prairie saxifrage, Saxifraga integrifolia

Pacific sanicle, Sanicula crassicualis, a flower that comes in both red and yellow

Broadleaf stonecrop, Sedum spthuifolium, not quite in bloom yet - grows on rocky outcroppings

Sweet cicely, Osmorhiza chilensis - a new species for me

Blue and yellow forget-me-not, also known as small-flowered forget-me-not, Myosotis discolor - a VERY tiny flower

Brittle cactus, Opuntia fragilis

Wait a second....cactus, in the San Juan Islands? Yes, this is western Washington's only native cactus species. It is a type of prickly pear cactus and grows in small colonies on many of the San Juans. It is also found on Whidbey Island and on the Olympic Peninsula near Sequim, though it has been declining there. One theory is that local natives acquired cacti through trade with inland tribes and started cultivating them here. Perhaps they were able to grow here and not elsewhere in western Washington because of the rainshadow effect of the Olympic Mountains that makes this a drier climate. I've known about the San Juan cactus for years, but this is the first time I've ever seen any!

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