It’s my pleasure to share more of the natural beauty that surrounds me.

Earlier this month we headed for a local stand of Epilobium_angustifolium  also known as Fireweed or Rosebay Willow herb along Parkway Drive in Crescent City.  A short bicycle ride, a beautiful day and a camera, and we were rolling.

Fireweed, along the side of Parkway Drive

I’ve been waiting for the Fireweed to bloom and set seeds, so I can collect some and toss them into my yard.  It’s an amazing plant with a tremendous potential.

Seed heads developing

I feel sorry for the name, as folks tend to cut it down because they assume that it’s a fire hazard.  Au contraire! Fireweed is one of the first plants to move in, after land clearing or burning.  Let me vouch for this!  We’ve been pulling invasive ivy here since last spring, and this spring, a few volunteers came up.  We didn’t know what it was at the time.  I took a wait and see attitude.  Sure enough, six or seven Fireweed plants  blooming here –  in front of my redwoods!

The stems can be made into a light duty cord and the leaves rich in Vitamin C, good for potherb or tea.  The fluff from the seed heads mixes well with other fibers for spinning, weaving and making blankets and bedding.  I plan to make cord and spin the the seed fibers with some wool or alpaca.

Some of the Indian tribes who recognized and took advantage of these and other benefits of Fireweed are Haidu, Saanich, Squamish, Quinault, Skokomish, Nisga’a, and Gitsan.  This list in not exhaustive.  I have a great respect for the efforts and knowledge of those before me.

Blooms from the bottom, up, setting seeds, blooming and budding, all at once.

Plants like this one scream out with their color, of benefit to us in so many ways, yet we drive by, not giving much thought to them. Perhaps this is why our world is falling apart. We’re not looking, seeing, listening.

Budding tip of the Fireweed plant. Edible buds.  I ate some.

Here’s a large conifer covered in Witch’s Hair, Alectoria sarmentosa, a large, hanging hair lichen.  This was used by Nuxalk as false whiskers and hair for decorating dance masks.  A few interior tribes wove footwear from this lichen.

Lot’s of witch’s hair!!

Here’s a closer look.

closer look

And closer still…

lovely witch’s hair

I’m weak when it comes to picking and eating thimble berries.  They aren’t available commercially, as they’re fragile and don’t keep.  The plants grow wild here, and they’re my favorite native berry. I don’t care if my fingers turn red.  The thimble berry leaves resemble maple leaves and are part of the Rose family, as are many berries.

Mixed plants, roadside.

I noticed the beautiful green color of this shrub before I saw the thorns.  Lucky for me, I only latched on to the leaves to inspect it!   In a moving vehicle traveling the normal rate of speed, I would have missed this one.

Black Hawthorn perhaps?

California or Canada thistle, much lighter in color than any reference I could find.

Thistle, unknown variety.

Closer look at the thistle. Tiny flower heads about the size of a quarter.  This was the only patch, though it can become a pest and I don’t think it’s native to this area.

Pretty, with hazards.

Several stands of Hardhack or Steeplebush – striking pinks everywhere! The Nuu-cha-nulth used the wiry, branching twigs to make broom-like implements and for collecting Dentalia shells, used for trading.

Spirea douglasii

Finally, a meadow on the south side,  going home, so busy with swallows.  A few rested long enough for a photo shoot.

Swallows – great for keeping insect in check

I hope you enjoyed the neighborhood and please remember to take a  few minutes to see what’s in yours.

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