Mystery Flora: “They’re This Big and Blue”


You’re racking up the successes, my darlings. Achrachno and Silver Fox finished in a dead heat identifying the flowers from Lava Butte: Ericameria nauseosa. Aspidocelis nailed the pretty purple tree: Paulownia tomentosa. That one almost made me decide to give up the Mystery Flora. It’s depressing to discover that your favorite purple tree is an invasive species. Sigh. Ah, well, ours is all alone in the park, so no sex and evil invasive bebbes. I suppose that’s some consolation.

Having recovered from that upset, I’ve decided I shan’t deprive you of flowers. The major impetus to this decision is simple: I’ve spent my productive writing time tonight scouring the Oregon and Washington Geological Survey sites, along with the USGS, looking for publications to download. That’s the thing about this Kindle Fire: it requires constant feeding. It doesn’t matter how much I pour into it. I finish a book or paper or two, and no matter how many I have left, I feel desperate for more. It’s all about the choices. I now have a fat collection of delicious pdfs and no time left for writing substantial stuff. Therefore, flora. Besides, you all seem to enjoy it.

Today’s selection comes from Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics.

Mystery Hurricane Ridge Flowers 1

They remind me of working in the bookstore. We used to get herds of people in looking for books. “I don’t know the title, the author or what it’s about,” they’d say, “but it’s this big and blue.” That’s these flowers in a nutshell. This big and blue.

Mystery Hurricane Ridge Flowers 2

Hurricane Ridge in August is outstanding. I’m sure it’s outstanding any time of year, but in August, the wildflower meadows are full of enormous varieties of wildflowers and butterflies. Add in the fact you’ve got sweeping vistas of some remarkable, rugged mountain terrain, and you’ve got a spot you can spend pretty much the rest of eternity in.

Mystery Hurricane Ridge Flowers 3

If I had my life to live over again, I’d throw over the easy indoor work and become a naturalist. I can see why the gentlemen scientists of the 1700s and 1800s were so promiscuous in their scientific investigations. It’s kind of hard to settle. I mean, yes, geology is my first love, and you can easily lure me away from a flower by waving a rock at me, but biology is damned fascinating as well.

Mystery Hurricane Ridge Flowers 4

Very nearly the whole of science could be explored in these lovely little flowers. Geology, for the soils they grow in. Biology, for obvious reasons. Chemistry, for the chemicals that they’re composed of and give them their color. Physics could be worked in there, and meteorology easily, and I’ll bet if we really tried, we could tie any branch of science we wish to these blooms. Even astronomy, if we get creative. After all, they’re made of star stuff.

Mystery Hurricane Ridge Flowers 5

And, seeing as how it would be cruel to mention mountains and not show you any, thee shall have a view of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center with the Olympics in the background, and the rim of a glacial cirque in the foreground.

Hurricane Ridge

Comments

    • Mary P says

      Very pretty in alpine meadows. Called the scourge of the Okanagan by many of my gardening friends because it is so hard to get rid of in the valley bottom.

  1. Achrachno says

    I’ve got to start checking in earlier in the day. All I can say now is: I agree with rq & Adrian.

    I’ve always wondered about this one — why’s it called “rotundifolia” since the leaves are not rotund? Campanula lanceolata would have been more appropriate for all the plants I’ve seen. Is there variation, with plants in some areas having leaves that are rounder? Oh, well. Sometimes names are just not very appropriate in their literal meaning.

    • Adrian says

      From memory, these grow from a basal rosette of rounded leaves. These die back before the flowers appear.