In review: Winter Twigs and Buds Field Trip on Lake Whatcom

On February 10th the Koma Kulshan Chapter hosted a terrific field trip focused on the identification of native deciduous trees and shrubs based on the characteristics of twigs and buds. Led graciously by Abe Lloyd and Allan Richardson, a group of 16 ambled alongside the shore of Lake Whatcom, taking in an array of native (and non-native) species. Among these were all three of our region’s native maples, various members of the Rubus genus, serviceberry, black cottonwood, aspen, paper birch, and even a group of Garry oaks!

Many of these species were likely familiar to the attendees and might be readily identified during the growing season, but in this context we were afforded the opportunity to look more deeply for defining characteristics without the aid of familiar leaf shapes and flowers. Although much attention was paid to bud arrangements, bud scales, leaf scars and other characteristics of exposed leafless twigs, this field trip also gave us an opportunity to observe a broad range of helpful details and even employed our sense of smell in the case of the unmistakably pungent odor of a freshly broken cottonwood twig. Observing the terrain, hydrology, companion species, textures and colors of bark, decaying remnants of fallen leaves, and the stature and form of trees all filtered into the process of identification.

Among the most memorable sightings were the tiny but bright-magenta pistillate female flowers of our native beaked hazel, Corylus cornuta, nearly hidden among the much more visible male (staminate) catkins. The promise of spring was in evidence everywhere in swollen buds and in the elegant, pendulous osoberry blossoms already beginning to reveal themselves. It was a great day for deepening our appreciation of the beauty and wonder of native plants!

-Alika Herreshoff

Photos by Evan Johnson and Alika Herreshoff

Native Plant Restoration at Galbraith Parking Lot

Saturday, February 24th, 9am – 12pm

Join the Koma Kulshan Chapter, Bellingham Parks volunteers, and Whatcom Million Trees Project to help plant native plants at the Galbraith Parking Lot restoration site. To register, go to the Volunteer Bellingham website: Tools and gloves will be provided. Come prepared for the weather and bring a lunch. For more information, contact Jim Davis at jimdaviscpc [at] Comcast [dot] net.

Chapter Meeting: Bumble Bee Conservation in Subalpine Meadows

Meeting held via Zoom: Wednesday, February 21st at 7PM

Bumble Bee Conservation in Subalpine Meadows (Zoom)

Jim Davis will present results from a five-year study of flower phenology and bumble bee foraging at Heather Meadows. In a typical year, observed abundant and continuous floral resources for the duration of the growing season. During the exceptionally early spring of 2015, flowering was early for many species, while the duration of flowering increased for a few species and decreased substantially for others. These findings preview the potential impacts of climate change on flowering plants and bumble bees in subalpine meadows of the Pacific Northwest.

To register, go to:

Photo: Bombus melanopygus (black tailed bumble bee) on leafy aster by Abe Lloyd.

Field Trip: Maple Creek Photography Walk

Sunday, February 18th, 11AM – 1PM

Maple Creek Photography Walk: Drizzle or Shine, Nature Awaits!

Calling all shutterbugs and budding botanists! Join us for a fun hiking adventure through enchanting Maple Creek Park. Whether you’re a seasoned lensman or a smartphone shutterbug, this adventure welcomes everyone to capture the beauty of Pacific Northwest native plants, drizzle or shine. (After all, drizzle just adds a touch of forest magic!) well meander along a scenic trail, keeping our eyes peeled for native plants, from towering cedars to delicate ferns. But the real magic happens when we pool our collective knowledge. Think of it as a nature bingo with friends, where identifying native plants becomes a shared adventure. This hike is designed to be a leisurely stroll, taking around two hours. But hey, if the forest whispers and the moss-covered trails tempt us to linger, we’ll gladly follow! So, pack your rain gear, grab your camera (any kind will do!), and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of Maple Creek Park. We’ll see you there! Bonus tip: Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget to bring a plant ID book and your curiosity!

Contact: Deborah Baker, polarcollision (at) gmail (dot) com.

Limit 10

Photo by Deborah Baker