Balsamroots in the Sage Hills. Photo taken May 1.

May 1, 2011. Since last week when we were hiking in the foothills of the Lower Valley, the number of flowers that are showing has made a huge leap. A few of the early bloomers are still out (prairie star, bluebells) and the flowers that were in the early stages of blooming a week ago (balsamroots and serviceberries) are still out — in fact the balsamroots are great now, although they are not as plentiful this year as the last few years. Today we saw many new blooms and the list includes: larkspur, lupine, linear-leaf daisies, puccoon, microseris, chock cherry, Oregon grape, bare-stemmed biscuitroot, waterleaf, groundsel, wax currants, brodiaea, stickseed, and phlox.

April 21, 2011. Ski Hill at Leavenworth. The glacier lilies are peaking here and are very dense this year — more so than the last few years.”

April 19, 2011. The wildflowers are out in the foothills but, this year, with the cooler spring weather, the blooms are going off slower and in a somewhat different progression than in more typical years. At the time we write this, there’s a relatively modest number of buttercups, spring beauties, bluebells, biscuitroots, prairie-stars, balsamroots, and seviceberries in bloom in the foothills of the Lower Wenatchee Valley. We’re probably several weeks away from peak bloom, so it’s a good time to either learn the flowers for the first time or to refresh your knowledge of the ones you already know. It’s impressive, you know, to be walking the trails with friends and to casually state, “Wait up, I need to rub a little of this yarrow into my scratch. It will stop the bleeding.”

Good resources for learning our local blooms:

1) Use our Wildflower Slideshow featuring Central Washington wildflowers. Once the show start, click ‘Show info’ in the upper right so the captions come on. After you’ve done the show a few times, keep the captions off and see if you get them all. This slideshow is resident on the home page during the spring/summer (upper left side of the home page).

2) Develop your mental might  with this smart shrine of study, and our awesomely brainy bible of blooms: Wildflowers for Dummies. Maybe it does only define a dozen of the most  commonly seen flowers in the Wenatchee foothills but in the eyes of the real dummies – that would be those who haven’t read it—our guide transform readers from nincompoops to naturalists in a few short study sessions. That’s one powerful reference. Take a look (and feel free to print it).

3) Use the Land Trust’s on-line field guide to the most common wildflowers around Chelan County and Douglas County. Click on thumbnails of any of the flowers and you’ll get common and latin

Quiz question: Can you name this flower seen in the Wenatchee foothills? If not maybe you better bone up.

names; seasonal and botanical information; and ethnobotanical information about how Native Americans used the plant for food, medicine, construction, poison…

4) A few books to prime the memory include: Mountain Plants of the Pacific Northwest (by Ronald Taylor and George W. Douglas) for, yes, our local mountain plants, and  Sagebrush Country—A Wildflower Sanctuary (by Ronald Taylor) for the flowers of the shrub steppe.

This post was originally published on 5/1/11.

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