I’m continually surprised by plants in the Pacific Northwest. I shouldn’t be – I’ve been here for over half a decade now – but I’ll be out and about, not expecting much of anything to be doing anything of interest, and bam, in-my-face.
B and I had been scrambling over the beach at Richmond Beach, looking for a good bit of driftwood to use as a wizard’s staff, and we were climbing the endless stairs back up to the car when this bushes with enormous yellow, orange and red spiky berries appeared. I mean, yes, I’ve seen them before. We always park at the top and do the stairs for exercise. But this was the first time I’d seen them in October, and they were all dressed up.
Here were these clusters of flowers that looked like salal, but obviously not salal, and zomg wtf is up with those fruits?
Clusters, twins, singles, all over the place. And me being from a place where an apple growing on a tree seems rather exotic, seeing these bizarro fruits brings me up short. Luckily, they were growing near some exercise equipment, so B got to see if he could beat his brother in the pull-up department while I got busy with the camera.
I wonder what evolutionary pressure or urging prompted these things to grow little protrusions all over? And they’re pretty hard, too, not squidgy. I swear, they seem like you could tie them to the end of a stick and beat people to death. I wonder if they were the inspiration for the mace?
You could even look at them and think of the surface of the sun, with its flares and prominences and spots.
And, of course, the instant I saw them, I thought of you lot. I even remembered to take pictures that show the plant in more context.
So there you see a branch with all the flowers and fruits and bits, and below, we have the whole bush with ah shtick.
The stick, which did not become a staff, alas, appears to be madrona. I’ll give you a hint: there are cousins in this photo. Oh, and the weird gray things poking up over the bush at left are the sails from a play ship for the kiddies. It’s one of those awesome sorts of parks where everybody’s got something to look forward to, including the botanists.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day, for them as cares.