Plants

Once I started identifying plants, I found myself referring to my plant identification book more often. Trying to remember all the names is a challenge sometimes and often the name is on the tip of my tongue. I find some easier to remember though like skunk cabbage and horsetails.


Wildlife attracted to dead trees

I often notice snags because of the woodpecker holes or woodpeckers drumming on the tree. However, woodpeckers aren’t the only ones utilizing snags. Snags (any dead or dying standing tree) are considered wildlife trees because they often provide more habitat for wildlife when dead than when alive. Wildlife utilize snags…

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Every burl is different

  Every so often while hiking I find a tree with a burl. Sometimes the burl is a small globular protrusion on a branch and other times there are multiple burls on one tree. On a hike many years ago I found a burl that looked like a woman’s face…

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Clubmoss rich in history

Some plants catch your eye. During a walk on an overgrown road I was noticing the mosses and kinnikinnick along the road edges. Then I did a double-take when I saw a plant sprawled half-way across the road with fingers of the plant going every direction. The plant looked like…

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Elderberry a versatile plant throughout history

After finding only a few huckleberries and not wanting to come home empty-handed, I spied some elderberries along the road. Luckily I had just looked through my berry book earlier in the week and read about elderberries. Why not try elderberries I thought? The berry book was correct in saying…

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Wild edible fruits beginning to ripen

Summer is here and so are the wild fruits beginning with serviceberries and thimbleberries. The blue to purple fruit of the serviceberry ripens on six to 30-foot tall shrubs in late June or early July. Serviceberries are also known as saskatoons, juneberries, and shadbushes. While serviceberries look like blueberries in…

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Identifying orchids in North Idaho

The orchids in North Idaho aren’t as spectacular as tropical orchids but they have their own attractiveness. Some of the orchid flowers are so small they may not be recognized as orchids at first. Orchids are among the most specialized flowers. They have three sepals and three petals but the…

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More to ferns than fronds

Thalli. Sporangia. Sori. Pinnae. Frond. As foreign as these words may seem, they refer to a plant we see all the time–ferns. You won’t find a flower, seed or stem on a fern because they aren’t a flowering plant. Ferns are quite different from the plants and trees around them…

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Skunk cabbage true to its name

Whether the winter is short or long, the first flower is a joyful sight–even if its name is skunk cabbage. The bright yellow flowers emerge before the leaves, so spotting them is easy if you look in the right places. Swamps, bog edges, sloughs, moist forests, along streams and other…

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Roots do more than anchor a tree

Remember the incredible wind storms last summer? Tall ponderosa pines were bent over under the forty mile an hour winds. Some trees came crashing down roots and all while others snapped at weaker points along the trunk. Most trees survived–minus a few limbs– thanks to their extensive root systems. We…

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Not your Christmas mistletoe

Tis’ the season for mistletoe hanging in doorways to add romantic cheer. True mistletoe may spread cheer but another mistletoe–dwarf mistletoe–doesn’t spread cheer throughout the year. Dwarf mistletoe is anything but romantic for conifer trees because once infected a conifer most likely will die prematurely. For many people, dwarf mistletoe…

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