Outdoors

Ferngully

A passion for plants

Attend

What: Whatcom Falls Plant Walk

When: 1 pm Sat., May. 11

Where: Whatcom Falls Park

Cost: Free; no registration is required

Info: http://www.wnpskoma.org

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Apparently, a deer fern is not a plant that hoofed mammals hide behind when members of the Komo Kulshan chapter of the Washington Native Plant Society (WNPS) happen upon them while leading one of their many free field trips or plant walks throughout Whatcom and Skagit counties each spring and summer.

Turns out the Blechnum spicant is a distinctive evergreen fern known to moist, west coast coniferous forests and shady gardens, and that it’s far from the only member of its genus to be found in our moss-enhanced corner of the world. We also boast alpine lady ferns, fragile ferns, oak ferns, wood ferns, sword ferns, Shasta ferns, holly ferns, maidenhair ferns, mountain ferns and, well, you get the picture. (We’re not lacking in ferns.)

But how does one go about differentiating what’s what without a biology degree or a lifelong study of plants of the Pacific Northwest? A good start is by joining the WNPS crew for an outing and paying close attention to what the resident experts have to say.

For example, a “Whatcom Falls Ethnobotany” introductory plant walk for people of all ages and experience levels happening Sat., May 11 at Whatcom Falls Park will move beyond the waterfalls and inherent beauty of the local gem to focus on what grows within its sun-dappled expanse.

In addition to learning more about the native plants and trees and their traditional uses, the two-hour meander will also net identification tips and introduce attendees to facts about wildlife use, gardening with natives, and other interesting and useful facts.

While you won’t learn about every one of the more than 1,000 species of plants that have been identified in Whatcom County by various observers over several years, you will be asked to pay close attention to the world around you while enjoying a spring stroll with people who have made it their business to engage with our ever-more-fragile ecosystem.

The final introductory plant walk of spring will be led by guidebook author Mark Turner Thurs, May 23 at the Sehome Hill Arboretum, and the last field trip of the season will take place Sat., June 1 on the upper South Fork Nooksack River valley at the Edfro Creek Preserve.

At the latter event, Allan Richardson, WNPS chapter president and co-author of Nooksack Place Names, will lead the daylong excursion, which will draw attention to conservation and the cultural site of Yúmechiy (“spring salmon place”), which is named for the now-endangered South Fork spring Chinook salmon.

While you’re learning to identify a range of native plants in the rainforest environment, keep a lookout for the elusive deer fern. You’ll recognize it by its antlers.

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