Last weekend my family and I took a drive to the coastal town of Crescent City California where we stayed a night. On our journey home, we stopped in the little town of Hiouchi to visit the beautiful Stout Grove, located in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The trees here are not as strikingly gigantic as the giant redwoods a little south, but they still dwarf even the tallest of us mortal hikers. Naturally, our daughter fell into a deep sleep literally as we turned off the 199, and despite our efforts could not be woken. We still had a long drive home to Rogue River, so we didn't want to awaken the tuckered out little girl (we had already been to the aquarium and the beach that day, so much running!), so Anna sat in the car and let me scope out the trail.
|Stout Grove trail, Hiouchi, Oregon|
|Poison oak (Toxicodendron sp.) climbing a tree|
I was dwarfed by the redwoods and Rhododendrons that dominated the canopy, as well as a few scattered hardwoods. Yet my focus is usually towards the forest floor during hikes in the hopes that I'll see something botanically enticing. I wasn't disappointed! I felt like a kid in a candy store. Yes, I'm a plant nerd, and proud of it!
|So much botanizing!|
|Trillium ovatum, everything is in "threes"|
|Trillium ovatum seedlings|
|Trillium and Iris leaves|
I have often read or heard folks complain about soil requirements being stated as: "moisture retentive humus yet free draining," getting responses like this: "if it exists let me know so I may purchase some." The solution is simple: elevated garden beds, and a balance between available moisture (rain or irrigation) and the amount of "drainage material" added, chiefly sand or grit. In a climate like the UK, more sand may be warranted. Here in the dry West, less sand, or more irrigation. The elevation, by either piling the substrate high or actually building a bed out of wood or stone (or blocks) will keep conditions from stagnating, giving the grower more control over the amount of water in the substrate at any given time, but the actual substrate (how much "drainage material") is important here. Experimentation is key.
In my garden, the leaves of Cimicifuga racemosa (not ramosa, that is a misnomer for C. simplex) have begun to die back and have not aged like this. The leaves can vary quite a bit, some being pinnately compound, others being bipinnately compound, and a very rare form of at least one species having leaves tripinnately compound (though it is speculated that this form has been lost in cultivation). My plants of C. racemosa exhibit both pinnate- and bipinnate leaf forms.
At the start of the trail I had seen these leaves, but I had no idea what they were. Until I saw the berries further down the path. I didn't eat them because I didn't make a positive ID until I got home, and I never eat unfamiliar berries (because I don't want to die). This is huckleberry, ovatum has serrated leaves.
I'm not sure what this was, but I'm sure it is a mint relative. The stem was square, the leaves hairy (slightly, but not at all scented), and the flowers resembling other mint relatives like Lamium and Stachys. It was growing in the rocks alongside the Smith river which cuts through the State Park.
This was speculated by some kind peers who helped with the ID to be a Penstemon, Gentiana, and even a Dianthus. But it is most certainly a soapwort, Saponaria. The branching, leaves, and seed pods all match.
It was a fun hike, I hope to do it again some day. It would be amazing in Springtime.