A Rose By Any Other Name

I’ve recently enjoyed walking the South Beach Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and was amazed by the number of plants in flower both along the trail and on the rocky outcrops at South Beach itself.

Five of these plants belong in Rosaceae (Rose family) and I decided to put them to the smell test and see if they indeed live up to the old saying “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Plants in Rosacea can be identified by radially symmetric flowers with five petals arising from a cup atop the flower stalk. The presence of stipules at the base of the leaf stalks is another characteristic of plants in the Rose family.

Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana)
Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana) is a very fragrant flower.

First up was the Nootka Rose (Rosa nutkana). I’m happy to report that the Nootka Rose, which was growing in profusion along the flat open part of the South Beach Trail has a beautiful fragrance. On a warm day the air is filled with the scent of Nootka Rose.

Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)
Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) is always found close to the sea.

At South Beach two other members of the Rose family can be found on the rocky outcrops along the upper edges of the beach. Coastal Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis) has white flowers and toothed leaves that are leathery in texture. It seems to have no scent.

Villous Cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa)
The bright yellow flowers and hairy leaves of Villous Cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa) are distinctive.

Growing in close proximity is Villous Cinquefoil (Potentilla villosa). Villous Cinquefoil has yellow flowers and coarsely toothed leathery leaves that are white-hairy below. This plant has a beautiful fragrance.

Silverweed (Potentilla anserine ssp. pacifica)
Silverweed (Potentilla anserine ssp. pacifica) grows in wet seepage areas.

A second Potentilla, Silverweed (Potentilla anserine ssp. pacifica) grows in wet seepage areas in the sand at the top of the beach. It too has yellow flowers and a long compound pinnate leaf that is white-hairy (silver) underneath. It didn’t seem to have much of a scent.

Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum)
Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) can be found growing along the trail to South Beach.

Finally, along the trail edge the yellow flowered Large-leaved Avens (Geum macrophyllum) can be found. This plant has large deeply 3 lobed leaves (the basal leaves are long stalked with a large terminal lobe and several smaller lobes closer to the stem). It too didn’t seem to have much fragrance.

Of a total of five plants in Rosacea, only two had any sort of noticeable scent. Regardless, all five did produce beautiful flowers and I enjoyed taking the time to stop and smell these “roses.”