I know, I know: plants can have a wide range, so it’s silly to be astonished when I see plants from my childhood happily growing in my new home state. But face facts: the portion I live in, the Puget Sound area, is wildly different from Flagstaff. No dry dirt, for one thing. 38 inches of precipitation as compared to 23 inches, for another – and you may not think that’s a huge difference, but Flagstaff gets most of its water from winter snowfall and the short, drenching afternoon monsoon rains in July and August. Seattle gets rained on – All. The. Time. Okay, maybe not all – we typically get a nice summer break. But we still don’t have much dry dirt. The dry country plants of Flagstaff and its even more parched high-desert surroundings have given the western side of the Cascades a miss as far as places to migrate to. They’d drown.
But cross the Cascades and get into their rainshadow, and it’s a completely different story. I was struck by that the first time I passed through: on the eastern slopes, Ponderosa pines rose in thick groves just like Flagstaff, and when I stood on Ryegrass Summit, it looked and smelled almost precisely like the antelope-filled grasslands near Prescott. Dorothy was wrong about there being no place like home. I can always pop across the pass and go visit a place very much like it.
Some of the plants evidently feel much the same. They’ve traveled up this way and established themselves on Washington’s dry side. When I took B over the pass to make his jaw drop with some hot Channeled Scablands action, I found several old friends, including one I’ve eaten. I forgot to photograph some of them, I was so busy with geology, but I got a few. I know what they are. Let’s see if you can figure them out.