Black Spots on Bigleaf Maple Leaves

Bigleaf Maple | Acer macrophyllum It’s that time of year when the Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) leaves are changing colour and falling to the ground. I’ve always noticed the small, circular imperfections on maple leaves at this time of year and have wondered what they were. On the weekend I took a walk in Miracle Beach Provincial Park with my …

Fabulous Finches

American Goldfinch | Carduelis tristis The sunflowers are done in our back lane but the seeds are now attracting birds – primarily American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) but also house finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), chestnut-backed chickadee (Poecile rufescens) and house sparrow (Passer domesticus). That’s one of the many benefits of growing sunflowers. Not only do you (and insects) get to enjoy the …

Madera Canyon – Arizona Skywatch #3

Santa Rita Mountains One of the primary reasons to visit Arizona during spring break (aside from getting a break from the winter weather up here in BC) is the excellent opportunities for bird watching and botanizing as well as superb sky watching. Last March I joined two fellow naturalists and spent a week traveling around southeastern Arizona. One of our …

Tansy Ragwort

Tansy Ragwort | Senecio jacobaea Early in September I wrote about two tansies that are found in British Columbia. Last weekend while at East Sooke Regional Park looking for turkey vultures I found a species of Senecio growing in an old farm field. Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), like the common tansy, is an introduced plant from Eurasia. It does well …

Shootingstars

Jeffrey's Shootingstar | Dodecatheon jeffreyi I was fascinated by the colour of the leaves of Jeffrey’s shootingstar (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) alongside a cold sub-alpine stream this week in Paradise Meadows, Strathcona Provincial Park. The leaves were a stark contrast to the dark water and grey day and a beautiful sign that winter is not far off. Jeffrey's Shootingstar | Dodecatheon jeffreyi …

White Cockle

White Cockle | Silene latifolia ssp. alba Walking the riverside walk along the Puntledge River in Courtenay is a great place to see all sorts of invasive, introduced plants. Lately I’ve taken to strolling our two young children around the Airpark Loop and always keep my eyes open for interesting plants and birds (the Airpark Lagoon is excellent for migrating …

Seeds on the Wind

It was a very windy day on the east coast of Vancouver Island today and tree seeds were on the move. We took a family walk in Miracle Beach Provincial Park this morning and at one point it seemed like it was snowing seeds! At first we thought that the seeds were all bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) due to their …

Fern-leaved Goldthread

Fern-leaved Goldthread | Coptis aspleniifolia One of the easily missed plants in the sub-alpine is the fern-leaved goldthread (Coptis aspleniifolia). At this time of year the flowers are long gone but the basal, fern-like leaves remain since they are evergreen. More noticeable are the striking seed heads. The picture above shows an old seed head after the seeds have been …