Mystery Flora: Juanita Bay Flowering Tree, Plus A Few Words on Dambusters

Right, my botanical detectives: I’ve got quite a nice one for ye today. Behold the Tree:

Juanita Bay Tree

This tree was in full bloom in early June. There’s something wonderful about a tree with big trumpeting purple blossoms standing tall by a lake carved out by a continental ice sheet.

The park at Juanita Bay is something special, and we’ll visit it again. It’s a naturalist’s urban paradise: glacial landforms, wetlands, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects, fish, mammals, and a wild variety of plants. There’s scenery for any scientific philistines in your party. And in the late spring, there’s this magnificent tree, with its wonderful flowers.

Bird in tree


I’m claiming this tree in the name of En Tequila Es Verdad. Huge purple flowers, people. On an enormous tree. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Purple Flower Closeup

There’s a closeup that will hopefully help you in identifying said flowers. Down in the lower right, you can see where some of the trumpets have fallen, leaving behind the innards. Which I’m sure there’s a technical term for, but I’ve been studying geology, not botany, and I’m additionally watching Bombing Hitler’s Dams right now and trying to write this post without looking at it, much less looking up stuff on Wikipedia, so I’ll let a more knowledgeable reader tell us the proper terms for all the bits.

By the way, you could not pay me enough to fly a plane loaded with explosives 60 feet above a reservoir and then drop said explosive so it can bounce into the dam holding back said reservoir whilst hopefully not bouncing up and taking out the plane. There seriously wouldn’t be enough money in the world to make me do such a thing with nothing but moonlight lighting the way. But a squadron of British and other Allied pilots did this. This tells me two things: young men are insane, and war makes them more insane. But it’s actually pretty awesome: a gorgeous combination of engineering and flying skill. Too bad the dam they busted was so beautiful: a huge gravity dam, built of granite blocks. Lovely. Nice to see it’s been repaired.

Möhne Dam, image credit pandrcutts

Anyway. Where were we? Right. Flowers.

Flowers and Seed Pods

In the above photo, you can get a look at the seed pods as well as the flowers. Hopefully, this will assist in identification. If not, it’s still a bloody awesome photo, if I do say so meself. That Sony Cyber-shot was the best purchases I’ve ever made. Point it at something pretty, click, et voila – something eminently presentable to readers.

Now, my darling botanical gumshoes, I wish you luck in identifying this tree. I’m going to go back to sniveling over Geology of Oregon, which is making me want to return to all the places I’ve been and visit all the places I haven’t.


  1. says

    This tells me two things: young men are insane, and war makes them more insane.

    They didn’t know what they were volunteering for, if the recruiting process went the way it usually does. Volunteering might actually have gotten them out of having to fly some other dangerous missions.

    That’s what’s really crazy…

    • Adrian says

      The squadron involved was an elite one put together from the best pilots the RAF had. They had been fighting since the beginning of the war.
      They practiced for weeks before the mission so they knew what they were doing.
      Look up Barnes Wallis or bouncing bomb for the full story.

  2. terrijones says

    Relatively sure that’s a Tabebuia. (Tabby-boo-ya). Here in central Florida this type and the brilliant yellow type are blooming now. There is a type that is more pink, that blooms a little later.

  3. aspidoscelis says

    Not Tabebuia, which has palmately compound leaves (and is a rather tropical thing that probably would not appreciate the Pacific Northwest).

    My vote goes for Paulownia tomentosa. FWIW, this is an evil invasive species in the eastern U.S.

  4. Trebuchet says

    Love the mysteries — I keep seeing plant species I never heard of. The bird, at least, appears to be a red-winged blackbird! I’m considerably better at birds than at plants.

    And of course, as a lover of most all things mechanical, you’ve now started me on a quest to learn about the object in front of the dam!

    The dam busters did lose a couple of planes in testing to either the bomb coming up and hitting the airplane or just the splash getting them.

  5. Lithified Detritus says

    I’m going to go back to sniveling over Geology of Oregon, which is making me want to return to all the places I’ve been and visit all the places I haven’t.

    If you don’t have In Search of Ancient Oregon by Ellen Morris Bishop, you need to pick up a copy. Great book, and she is an outstanding photographer.

  6. Achrachno says

    I’m late today, so the job is done. I agree with the Paulownia IDs, for all the reasons given.

    Paulownia is not a weed in the arid SW — one has to baby them along.

  7. Adrian says

    I’ve not a lot to add to this as, to paraphrase, I don’t do trees.
    Alpines and desert plants are my thing.

  8. says

    Just to say, the people who fought in WWII didn’t do it for the money. I hope you didn’t mean to imply that they did, but you did come close to it, I think, in implicitly equating what it’d take for you to do that w/ why they did it.

    They did all that they did to try to save us from Naziism.

    I could go on to say that if they knew then what their children would do to this country: to not bother to learn what it is that makes this country unique – and so to aid and abet the demagoguery that has imperceptibly destroyed our freedom, and turned us into a socialist country … they might have decided differently..
    ..but going on like that might well be unpopular.