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I love wildflowers!
posted by John : May 9, 2014

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Trailhead bunchberry

Hello. My name is John. I'm a man and I love wildflowers. It's not wrong. It's beautiful. And during National Wildflower Week I feel like I can proclaim my love without fear of being thought less of a man.

I admit I don't usually go in search of flowers. I'm a peakbagger. The only hike I can remember picking specifically because of the "flower show" was Dog Mountain in the Columbia Gorge.

I tend to prefer flowers that are a little more subtle. Still, it's hard to not be impressed with show-offs like columbine and Jeffrey's shooting stars.

Don't forget the lilies. Whether glacier, avalanche, tiger, or the elusive chocolate, all the lilies are worth a side trip for a close look though they're a bit stuck up in my opinion.

Balsamroot, bear grass, and corn lily are blue-collar flowers that are unassuming, but when they form huge fields they stun.

Hiding in plain site hide flowers that if you look closely you will see real beauty. Heather, phlox, lupine, and western anemone. Some live in cracks in the rocks or hidden in the Fall.

As nice as it is to see a pop of color after a long winter of snow and gray skies, my three favorite wildflowers are all white.

My third favorite is the trillium. It puts forth a single blossom in the Spring after the snow melts (and sometimes a little too soon). Each year it produces a single seed that ants will disperse. If the ants don't do their job, the flowers grow in great, glorious clumps. In the Northwest, our native species is Trillium ovatum.

Second on my list is Queen's Cup. It's harder to find than trillium and more delicate. The six white petals almost glow in the dark understory of our forests. If my girls had to drink out of a flower it would be a Queen's Cup.

My all time, number one, most favorite flower is the bunchberry. It's related to the dogwood (one of my favorite trees) and shares the four-petal shape. Bunchberry is found in many of the same places as Queen's Cup and trillium, but often appears more as a ground cover. Its flowers start chartreuse before turning bright white. I think the reason I am so fond of bunchberry is because it has a nature so similar to mine. We're both content to be part of something larger without feeling a need to shout out for attention at every turn.

Next time you're out on the trail, whether the clouds obscure the distant views of peaks or not, take a moment to look at the flowers by the trail. You'll find a world of wonder at your feet.

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