Four Native Species to Know

Here are four species of native plants of the Pacific Northwest. If you live in this region, do you recognize any of these? They are common friends to know.

The first, Oregon Grape, is a delicious (albeit rather tart) edible berry. It is most ripe at the time of my writing this in late August. When the berries start to shrivel up just a little bit is when they are most sweet to eat by the handful. It’s okay to eat the little sift stems attached to the berries, too. In springtime, the new leaves of this plant are deliciously edible; they are very soft and light green and taste like a tart apple.

It is said that parts of the Nootka Rose can be edible. I am not certain about this, and beside, we should all do our research to make sure we can absolutely identify any wild edible plant before eating them. Some wild plants have parts that are edible and other parts that are poisonous. Others are completely edible, but only at certain times of the year. It’s not hard to learn these things, but it does take a bit of real-world identification practice.

Salmonberry is one wonderful species that I can say for certain is edible. The berries are totally edible, being ripe in early summer, around early June. The flowers, which come out in springtime before the berries, are also edible right off the stem. They have a very subtle, soft, sweet taste. I don’t think the rest of the plant is edible. Salmonberry is super prolific in this region, so I’m never concerned about over-harvesting. It even competes with Blackberry.

Snowberry, the fourth plant here, is poisonous. Many plants with white berries are poisonous; learn who lives around you, so you are not wrongfully fearful of an edible plant. It’s strange that this fourth picture is the darkest, an uncanny coincidence of an omen.

It was at Wilderness Awareness School that I adopted the practice of using the word “who” to describe plants and nonhuman animals, instead of “what”. This choice of language signifies a different way of thinking about nonhuman species; the sense that they are alive, and that a species need not be human to have a personality or be in meaningful relationship with others.

 

 

 

Plant photos by Gentle J. Pine.

Featured photo by luke flynt on Unsplash.

Hidden Magic

I found these following gems while sorting through my phone-photography.

Early in the year it snowed. We went to the hills to see it up close. I love the feeling of being wrapped in wool when it’s snow-cold out. Only wool clothing is a suitable when you sit down in snow; this way, you can be peaceful and take your time.

At the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, I was surprised by what a beautiful effect the glass separating humans and non-humans has on the photographic lens. In these pictures you can see the telling reflection of the onlooking humans. The effect of a transparent barrier between species is uncannily significant.

Below: words of fascination and appealing design, Kinokuniya Bookstore in Seattle. The company is a specialty Japanese bookstore with only a few locations outside of Japan. It’s a favorite for language-learners such as myself.

Speaking of Japanese inspiration, I got to visit the Pokémon Company International headquarters in Bellevue, WA! Pokémon was one of the original “sparkles” of my childhood that set me on the path of wanting to learn about Japan.

Going for a walk in Seattle on a bright, early summer morning…

I wish all parts of the city were as clean and inviting as this neighborhood. Sadly, Seattle is having a lot of problems lately with chronic drug-induced homelessness, and the ripple effect of crime and filth is becoming a local crises that no one in the region can ignore. While there are several complicated reasons this is happening here, it still doesn’t change the unfortunate truth that I no longer wish to spend time in Seattle city proper unless it is really necessary. Beautiful moments like these pictured above seem to be less frequently found these days. People who have lived in the region much longer than me say it was never like this before. T and I now just want to stay further out, even past Redmond, closer to Issaquah and Sammamish where we currently live. We jokingly say of downtown Seattle, “There but for the grace of Kinokuniya go I.”

This gorgeous house in Seattle probably costs multiple millions of dollars. However, I and many others see that the cost of real estate alone is no where near solely responsible for the aforementioned local problems.

Above: sunrise captured from the balcony of a house on a hill in Bothell, WA. May the mountains watch over us.

Alert! These waters (Pine Lake in Sammamish) contain toxic invasive species you oughtta know about. This is one of those instances where species identification is the real deal, more than a naturalist’s pastime.

Hmmm, something isn’t quite right about this picture… ;3 A morbid sense of humor in a Tacoma neighborhood, anyone?

Now that’s what I call a true enthusiasm for the holidays, for flood prevention and for caution while kayaking: it’s only August, and already these good people are preparing for Halloween!

Perhaps the spirits of the river’s dead will be reborn as…

a kingfisher, kawasemi in Japanese. I love how the kanji for “kingfisher” looks like it’s smiling :)