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Botanial Ramblings: Strawberry Island Dreams

Published on 5/5/2014
Close your eyes and imagine an unhumaned island with a gently sloping protected kayak landing beach, steeply rising sea cliffs ablaze with checker lily (Fritillaria affinis, aka f. lanceolata) gently swaying in the offshore breeze. At the top of the cliff are softly curving paths flanked by a dramatic display of flowery meadows: red paint brush, camas (Camissia quamish), Western butter cup (Ranunculus occidentalis), white field chickweed (Cerastium arvense), magenta seablush (Plectritis congesta). Visualize each flower is in its freshly opened dew-drenched prime. 

Moving further through the landscape, the flowery meadows give way to stalwart limestone outcrops filled with rose-colored sedums (Sedum spathufolium) and budding alum root (Heuchera miracantha). Shady corners support the seaside endemic Scouler’s licorice fern (Polypodium scoulerii). Budding wildrose and snowberry will later support the humming birds and passerine avians. The air is alive with young bumble bees working the new blossoms.

Now, imagine the sound: to the west, is the friendly surge of a tide race flowing over rock as the current moves through Rosario Strait. There is enough gentle breeze to cause standing waves. Gulls and orange-legged oyster catcher cries rise above the sound of moving water. The early spring sun is warm enough for a nap and just cool enough for comfort in a drysuit.

This fantasy land is within three hours travel time of Seattle and Bellevue!

This fantasy landscape is not a dream. It is what seven paddlers found on Strawberry Island on the Cypress Island circumnavigation April 27th. The following snapshots show some of the flowers we found.

Camas-A bumble bee works a freshly opened Camas flower) (Camissia quamish), Strawberry Island, April 27, 2014

Flowery Mead--Camas (Camissia quamish), Western butter cup (Ranunculus occidentalis) and Seashore paint brush (Castilleja affinis) bloom profusely along the west shore of  Strawberry Island.

Checker lily and camas

Checker lilies(Fritillaria affiis/lanceolata)-this indigenous beauty covers the south-facing slope of Strawberry Island

Scouler’s licorice fern (Polypodium scoulerii)-This leathery-leaved fern occupies a shady nook on Strawberry Island. 

Magenta seablush (Plectritis congesta), blooms alongside field chickweed (Cerastium arvense) and camas. Indigenous seablush is related to common garden Valerian.

Indigenous Sedum spathufolium, in rose and celadon hues, fills crevices in the rocky outcrops of  Strawberry Island. A tide race in the background beckons paddlers to ride the current north in Rosaria Strait.

Sedum spathulifolium

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