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Kootenay Greening: Early Leaves, Flowers and Fairy-slippers!

April 28, 2013

The world is turning green again. I spent a lot of the morning looking down and then kneeling to take pictures.  The forest floor is coming alive with plants – and some are already in flower. Many other plants are producing young leaves that appear almost translucent in the sun.  The most exciting find of the day? – A pair of Fairy-slipper orchids growing in the woods behind the house. They are incredibly beautiful and delicate. The little yellow Round-leaved Violets are far more common than the orchid but they too are a beautiful flower.

The Oregon Grape flowers eventually produce blue berries that reportedly make great jelly.

The Oregon Grape flowers eventually produce blue berries that reportedly make great jelly.

The Fairyslipper is a beautiful orchid that can only grow in association with a specific fungus.

The Fairy-slipper is a beautiful orchid that can only grow in association with a specific fungus.

Soft, young Larch leaves.  This tree is a conifer - but not an ever-green.

Soft, young Larch leaves. This tree is a conifer – but not an ever-green.

Young Larch leaves and cones.

Young Larch leaves and cones.

Young Paper Birch leaves in the sun

Young Paper Birch leaves – translucent in the sun

This shrub stays green over winter and is a favourite winter food of elk and deer.

Falsebox in flower.  This shrub stays green over winter and is a favourite winter food of elk and deer.

The leaves of this yellow violet stay green over winter.

A Round-leaved Violet. The leaves of this yellow violet stay green over winter.

Soopalalie (Shepherdia canadensis) in flower

Soopolallie (Shepherdia canadensis) in flower

Alder catkin

An Alder catkin

An Ostrich Fern fiddlehead.  These are good eating if they are steamed.

An Ostrich Fern fiddlehead. These are good eating when they are steamed.

Fresh Douglas Maple leaves.  This small maple grows in forest openings.

Fresh Douglas Maple leaves. This small maple grows in forest openings.

Saskatoon in flower.  The red-blue berries are a favourite bear food and make good jam.

Saskatoon preparing to flower. The red-blue berries are a favourite bear food and make good jam.

The Ostrich Fern fiddleheads are pushing out of the wet ground and starting to unfurl into the large ferns that will dominate the stream side. I love the soft, vibrant green of the new Larch leaves. Larches turn the autumn slopes yellow when these same leaves turn yellow before finally dropping to the ground. Falsebox is a favoured deer and elk food over winter and several of these shrubs show the results of heavy browsing. The falsebox manages to replace those browsed branches  – and more – every spring.  Oregon Grape is another shrub that stays green throughout the winter and its green leaves are some of the first green visible as the snow recedes. The flowers of the Soopoallie are quite unique among the plants now flowering and will eventually produce small red speckled berries.  The Saskatoon behind the house attracts bears with its berries in fall but right now it is slowly unfurling its leaves and flowers.  The white flowers will soon be evident and attracting the bees, flies and wasps that pollinate this important wildlife shrub.

Everyday brings something new to see.  I hope you enjoy these photos from today’s discoveries.

all writing and photos copyright Joanne Siderius

4 Comments
  1. These are beautiful photos! I love the Fairyslipper Orchid; I’ve never seen one. The yellow looks like a little face and the purple on top looks like a hat…I love it!

    • I don’t know the distribution of this orchid – but apparently it is very fragile and is becoming scarce in populated areas. It is like a little face, isn’t it?

  2. Susan Hammond permalink

    Spring is my favourite season and the greens are lovely. But is spring ever further along on the North Shore! Our Douglas maple leaves are just coming out, the Oregon Grape is not yet flowering. Larch needles look about the same, though.

    Susie

    • It is even further along if you go about a km down the road (and the hill!) to the lakeshore. The violet green swallows seem to prefer nesting down there too.

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