Plants

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Plants, Pacific Northwest

Plants grow best where their distinct needs are met. They may require  dry, hard-packed soil to thrive in, or conversely, wet & soggy ground. They may flourish in the lowlands or prefer locations high above the tree line. Simply put – a plant grows best where its living conditions are met. So, in order to find a particular plant, you just need to know the environment that it needs, and then search for areas that fit those surroundings.

The Foxglove Flower Plants Are Very Poisonous
Foxglove, Photo By Bud Logan

The B.C. coastal region boasts a large and diverse plant population. On the west coast, where it rains heavily, you will find plants that proliferate in wet conditions. On the southern tip of Vancouver Island, though, where little rain falls, you will discover species of desert-like plants, and even cacti. On the north coast, you will find plants that thrive under adverse light conditions along with wind and snow.

Alpine areas on the coast are known for their stunning abundance of wild flowers, which in late spring/early summer, overwhelm the senses, and can take your breath away with their astonishing beauty.

Algae are a group of simple & primitive organisms, most which can not carry out photosynthesis. While they contain chlorophyll, similar to land plant species, they do not possess true stems, roots & leaves – the structures that usually characterize ground vegetation. Green algae is found throughout the region.

Red Huckleberry Plants produce a great fruit that is very edible
Red Huckleberry, Photo By Bud Logan
Our coast has many choice, edible plants that can be harvested from the wild. Some are quite healthful, and many can add new flavors & nutrients to your table, which can’t be bought in grocery stores. Please do be cautious when gathering wild foods – some may not agree with you, and others can make you quite ill. Only harvest plants that you know well. Some plants can be confused with non edible or poisonous plants, so be sure you know what you are looking for before you harvest and consume any wild plant. There are many great field guides out there so find one for your area and take it with you.

The B.C. coastal region is fortunate to have a large variety of wild, fruit bearing plants, vines and shrubs. Some are native, while others are troublesome & invasive. By learning to identify these fruits, you can enjoy food that’s healthy, and free for the taking! Most native fruits & berries are high in antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients….Start enjoying the benefits of eating them, soon. We harvest and freeze many of of the fruits.

Invasive plant species are considered one of the greatest threats to the biodiversity of the coastal region. We have many aggressive, intrusive plants that are well-established here, and others that are just getting a foothold. The coasts many rare ecosystems support an array of endangered species, that depend on their unique habitats for survival. Invasive plants tend to take over and force beneficial and precious native plants out.
Natural medicine is no longer just a back to nature fad but a real down to earth philosophy. This need to use natural medicines is like something new to us, but in reality, we have always relied on plants for medicines. Over half the medicines that doctors prescribe today are created from plants.

Over the ages, many magical & mystical powers have been associated with plants and the medicines they contain. Plant-based remedies have been revered by some, and feared by others. Practitioners in the past, who had knowledge of & performed these healing arts were sometimes put to death by those in power. Today, research has given us a deeper understanding of  the chemical & physical qualities leading  to the healing properties of these plants.

Step Moss Plants can be found on all the coastal region of BC
Step Moss, Photo By Bud Logan

Moss is an ancient plant that first appeared around 400 million years ago. One of the first plants to grow on land, it is still one of the first plants to return to disturbed soil. Moss is non vascular, and with no means to transport water throughout the plant, it develops instead, in moist areas. Needing little or no soil, it can grow on bare rock, trees or buildings. Over a long period of time, moss can create soil by slowly breaking down rock. Holding water like a sponge, it allows other plants to access this moisture.

The coast has many poisonous plants inhabiting different areas. It’s vital to know as much as you can about these toxic flora, since many can easily be confused with edible plants. Learn to identify poisonous plants by studying field guides, talking to locals, or joining a nature group in your area. Children and pets are most vulnerable to plant poisoning, as they both like to put things in their mouths. Do your due diligence re: toxic vegetation in your area, and their related signs of poisoning.

The coastal region teems with a wide range of grasses, thriving within their specific growing zones. The rainy pacific coastal area provides ideal conditions for numerous tall, beautiful sedge’s. Look for diverse species of grass found around lakes, streams, estuaries, and alongside most roads.

The Douglas Spirea Plants are Very Common The Coast Of BC
Douglas Spirea, Photo By Bud Logan

Wild flowers flourish vibrantly and profusely throughout the region. l really enjoy hiking mountain trails in late spring, to view the vast variety of plant life. We all delight in the beauty of wild flowers, but rarely give thought to the magic at work creating this spectacular show year after year. While annual flowers are grown yearly from seed, perennials can develop and propagate for several years. They too, however, need to produce enough new plants from seed in order to maintain vigorous populations.

The pacific northwest and the waters along our coast contain more than 700 species of seaweed and marine grasses (brown algae), that proliferate in our nutrient rich waters. Seaweed and sea grasses are unlike land plants, which need  roots, stems & leaves to deliver nutrients and water throughout their systems. Being in constant contact with water, marine plants naturally obtain the ongoing nourishment they need. Seaweed attach themselves to an anchor with a hold fast, which resembles a root system, but it is specifically used to grip the anchor.

So, go out & explore the B.C. coast, and  learn about our extraordinary plants – many  edible, and some, medicinal. You will be amazed at the astounding diversity of plant life here!  

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