Roadside Coffee

I’m enjoying cycling to work since my 45 minute commute takes me through rolling countryside and past farmland. I’ve got time to enjoy the scenery and dodge the slugs that seem to gather on the damp roads in the early morning. I’ve also noticed that the edges of the roads are awash in the blue of Chicory (Cichorium intybus), a …

Learning about Ligules

I’m out on the west coast of Vancouver Island this weekend finding out more about Parks Canada’s dune restoration program in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. European Beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) creates a wall at the edge of the dunes that prevents sand movement. Sand dunes up and down the west coast of North America are being choked with introduced grasses, …

In a Bind

Every so often, I realize that a plant that I think I’ve identified correctly is actually not what I originally thought it was. Learning to identify plants can be fairly challenging, especially given the fact that many look very similar to each other. Field guides can be limited in their scope and images on the internet are often mislabeled. Part …

Radish Riddle

On one of my many trips out to Florencia Bay to look for the Pink Sand-verbena that had been reported a couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon another unusual looking plant that initially had me stumped. It was a single plant, somewhat scraggly looking with white flowers and pinnately lobed leaves that were quite bristly. This lone straggly looking …

A Prickly Subject

I admit that I was initially stumped by the aster I found growing in the Courtenay Airpark. I took some photographs of the plant and was particularly struck by the distinctive row of spines down the midrib of the leaf and figured that this would be an easy one to identify – with a leaf like that I assumed that …

Back in the Bog

The snake-like hood of Cobra Lily (Darlingtonia californica) is a bright green that stands out along the Shorepine Bog Trail in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. I love walking the Shorepine Bog out at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. There’s always something interesting in bloom and the bizarre twisted Shore Pines (Pinus contorta var. contorta) give the whole boardwalk a …

Vexed by Vetches

The Pea Family (Fabaceae) can be a little vexing at times – with this group the small details are often what separates one species from another fairly similar looking species. Fortunately the two vetches that I’ve found so far at the Courtenay Airpark are fairly distinctive and easy to identify. Vetches can be differentiated from most of the other members …

Small Pink Flowers

The flowers of Herb-robert (Geranium robertianum) range in colour from pink to reddish-purple. I have to admit that lately I’ve been spending a great deal of time looking at small weedy flowers. My walks out to the Courtenay Airpark have proven it to be an excellent place to find all sorts of exotic plants from Eurasia. This week I’ve focused …

Glorious Grovesnails

A solitary Grovesnail (Cepaea nemoralis) makes its way along a fence rail. On my regular afternoon walk to the Courtenay Airpark I noticed a rout of close to two dozen snails on the rail of a cement fence near the Old House Restaurant. The snails were Grovesnails (Cepaea nemoralis), a common garden snail that was introduced to North America from …

Pass the Mustard

The terminal flower cluster of Field Mustard (Brassica campestris). While I love finding interesting, rare, and unusual plants sometimes it’s fun to take a closer look at some of the common weeds that grow in urban areas. The walkway around the Courtenay Airpark is an excellent place to be introduced to the hunt for introduced species. I’ve found a cosmopolitan …