April is Native Plant Awareness Month!

April is now officially Native Plant Appreciation Month in the State of Washington! Join the Washington Native Plant Society throughout the month for lectures and activities exploring the theme of “Prairie Preservation.” From eastern Washington’s Palouse Prairie to Olympia’s Mima Mounds, prairies can be found all over our diverse state, and WNPS welcomes all levels of outdoor recreationalists and plant enthusiasts to join us in exploring these incredible ecosystems. From April 1st to April 24th, WNPS is hosting five amazing free webinars featuring Washington prairie experts. Learn more at wnps.org/wnps-annual-events/npam

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: https://www.volunteerbellingham.org/need/detail/?need. 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: https://www.wnps.org/calendar/koma-kulshan-bumble-bee-conservation-in-subalpine-meadows

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

Field Trip: Winter Twigs and Buds at Lake Whatcom

Saturday, February 10th, 9am – 12pm

This Field Trip is now full. Please do not attend unless you have already confirmed your attendance with Allan Richardson. Thank you for your understanding!

Join us for a winter walk led by Abe Lloyd and Allan Richardson! This field trip will emphasize identification of deciduous trees and shrubs based on their twigs and buds (copies of a key will be provided). There is a diverse assortment of native and some non-native plants along the trail, including a dry stretch with native oak trees. Bring a hand lens (if you have one), snacks, and dress for the weather. Contact Allan Richardson at 360-305-5270 or asrichardson5 (at) gmail (dot) com to confirm.

Meet at 9:00 am at the North Lake Whatcom Park lower trailhead by the lake shore at the very end of Northshore Road (not at the usual main trailhead that comes first).

Photo of Sambucus racemosa by Abe Lloyd.

Volunteers Needed for Whatcom Conservation District Native Plant Sale – March 16th!

The Whatcom Conservation District is seeking volunteers for this year’s Native Plant Sale held at Pioneer Park in Ferndale on Saturday March 16th!

Please consider contributing to this important annual event. This is a terrific way to exercise your knowledge and advocate for native plants! WNPS members have been an invaluable asset to the event in the past, bringing their knowledge of native plants to help community members select the right plants for their needs, sharing planting advice and ethnobotanical information, and more!

Volunteers are needed on the day of the sale as greeters, bare root helpers, pre- and post-checkout customer assistance, and clean up. The greatest need for volunteers is early in the day on Saturday, the busiest time for the sale.

See the Whatcom Conservation District flier below for more details and contact plantsale@whatcomcd.org to sign up with your name, contact information, and availability. To learn more about the native plant sale go to: https://www.whatcomcd.org/native-plant-sale.

January 24th 2024: Seminar presented by the Biology Department at WWU focusing on seagrass!

Chapter members may be interested in joining the following seminar focused on an important native plant, seagrass! Open to all, the seminar will be presented on Zoom by the Biology Department at WWU this upcoming Wednesday, January 24th, at 4pm. Details and Zoom link below!

“Ecological consequences of climate & communities on seagrass wasting disease dynamics” presented by Olivia Graham, PhD, Cornell University

About the seminar: Olivia J. Graham is a marine disease ecologist and Postdoctoral Research Associate at Cornell University. For her dissertation research, she studied seagrass wasting disease dynamics in eelgrass (Zostera marina), specifically looking at biological (herbivores, microbiome, host genetics) and environmental (ocean temperatures, salinity) drivers of disease in eelgrass meadows throughout the Northeast Pacific.

She is passionate about communicating and leveraging science to help inform the conservation and management of coastal ecosystems, especially in light of rapid climate change, and about mentoring and supporting the next generation of scientists.

For disability accommodation, please contact the Biology Department, 360-650-3627 or email at biology@wwu.edu

Zoom Link: https://wwu-edu.zoom.us/j/98080351166?pwd=aE01V29mRzFuMXBobHlqNzE4b0hLUT09

Meeting ID: 980 8035 1166

Passcode: 377803

CHAPTER MEETING POSTPONED! Due to heavy snowfall, challenging travel conditions, and concern for our members’ safety, The Koma Kulshan Board has postponed this evening’s in-person Chapter Meeting (January 17). Aidan Hersh’s presentation “Bees and Pollinators Through the Macro Lens” will be rescheduled during our Spring 2024 Chapter Meetings – please stay tuned for the date! Thank you for your understanding!

Chapter Meeting: Bees and Pollinators Through the Macro Lens (in person)

January 17, 2024, 7:00PM at the RE Store, 2309 Meridian St

CHAPTER MEETING POSTPONED! Due to heavy snowfall, challenging travel conditions, and concern for our members’ safety, The Koma Kulshan Board has postponed this in-person Chapter Meeting. Aidan Hersh’s presentation “Bees and Pollinators Through the Macro Lens” will be rescheduled during our Spring 2024 Chapter Meetings – please stay tuned for the date! Thank you for your understanding!

Many people are unaware of the fascinating diversity of bees and other pollinators around the world. For example, in the state of Washington alone there are upwards of 700 species of native bees. To the naked eve, many of these organisms look like nothing more than a mundane house fly. Through the macro lens, however, a vastly different world is revealed. In this presentation, Aidan Hersh will showcase the beautiful bees and pollinators of Washington and beyond. Aidan Hersh is a macro photographer and native bee enthusiast living in Bellingham. He serves on the board of the Washington Native Bee Society and the steering committee of the Washington Bee Atlas. He hopes that his photography will spark interest in the too often forgolten vet vitally important world of bees and pollinators. His photos can be found on Instagram @photo.by.aidan.

Photo by Aidan Hersh.