Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pekin Ducks at DeCoursey Park

About a week and a half ago we visited DeCoursey Park in Puyallup, WA.  It's a small, pleasant park with the sweetest ducks. It was wet at the time, and part of the pathway was covered, but we enjoyed our time there much in part to these two adorable ducks.  I think they are Pekin ducks, also known as Long Island ducks, a type of domesticated duck.  

The park has a small lake, and we went out on a dock and saw the ducks swimming in the water.

the Pekin ducks swimming

the dock
Then as we left the dock to walk on the pathway, they followed us around the lake, quickly waddling and quaking all the while!

Here they are following us!

They were such wonderful characters!  Apparently Donald Duck is a Pekin duck, and I can see the resemblance. ;) Here's a short video of them following us.  I'm sorry it's blurry, but it'll give you an idea of how friendly these sweet ducks are and how much we enjoyed them.  :)


And today is the Fourth of July, so Happy Fourth of July, everyone!!  :-)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ocean Spray (Holodiscus Discolor)

There's a beautiful shrub I really like called ocean spray. I put this series of pictures of ocean spray together in a post last year, but never finished it, so I'm going to go ahead and add a few words and publish it now while ocean spray is in bloom so you can keep your eye out for it.  We see it a lot on our walks, and we even have some in our yard.

Here's a little info from wikipedia:
Holodiscus discolor, commonly known as ocean spray, creambush or ironwood, is a shrub of western North America. It is common in the Pacific Northwest where it is found in both openings and the forest understory at low to moderate elevations.
Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database describes ocean spray so beautifully. . .
The leaves, lobed and triangular, are ¾” – 2 ½” long.The flowering habits of this plant are very distinct. First the flower buds form – dense, cream-colored clusters of tiny droplets. Then lacy masses of fragrant flowers bloom for many weeks between May and July. The seeds form from the brownish, dried flowers and persist throughout the autumn and well into the winter.
The Native Plant Salvage Foundations' website has a great article on ocean spray. They share the following information about the plant's name:
Oceanspray is part of the widespread, diverse Rose Family (Rosaceae) that brings us plants with large flowers and fleshy fruits as well as tiny flowers and dry fruits. The scientific name is Holodiscus discolor. “Holodiscus” is from the Greek, meaning “entire disk,” and is a technical reference to a section of the flower below the pistil. “Discolor” means “two-colored” and refers to the leaves being green above and hairy-grey below. The common name “oceanspray” is clearly derived from the profusion of flower clusters that resemble the creamy-white spray of crashing waves.
And its flowers really do resemble the spray of crashing waves!




(above picture taken by my older son)






Indian Pipe (Monotropa Uniflora)

I've been wanting to see a unusual type of plant called Indian Pipe (Monotropa Uniflora), also known as Ghost Plant or Corpse Plant, for awhile now, and this week we saw it, and plus we also a relative in the same genus called Pinesap.  When we saw the plants, they were in a forest at a park, off to the side of the trail.

We saw Indian Pipe on a walk on Sunday. We were talking through the forest at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, WA, and Windchime called out excitedly, "Mom!" When I went back and looked, there it was. . . Indian Pipe. :)

Then yesterday we went for a walk at Banner Forest Heritage Park in Port Orchard, WA, and we saw a plant that looked to me very much like Indian Pipe, but it was red! I looked it up later and found that apparently there are both white and read Indian Pipes, and at first I thought it was an Indian Pipe.  Here's what the Wikipedia entry on Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora, says:
Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult.
The plant is sometimes completely white but commonly has black flecks and a pale pink coloration. Rare variants may have a deep red color.
The stems reach heights of 10–30 cm, clothed with small scale-leaves 5–10 mm long. As its scientific name suggests, and unlike the related Monotropa hypopitys (but like the closely related Monotropastrum humile), the stems bear only a single flower, 10–15 mm long with 3-8 petals. It flowers from early summer to early autumn.
It's important to note that Indian Pipe has only a single flower.  Pinesap has 1-11 flowers.  Also, Indian Pipe can be white, commonly has black flecks, pale pink, and rare variants may be deep red, while Pinesap are, according to Wikipedia, "pale yellowish white to reddish-tinged." Here's some more info from Wikipedia about Pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys:  
Plants are fleshy and grow 10–35 cm tall. True stems are nonexistent. Instead, the only part which emerges from the soil are unbranched adventitious inflorescences which are developmentally similar to adventitious roots. All parts of the plant are pale yellowish white to reddish-tinged. The bracts are 5–10 mm long scale-like structures, which cover most of the inflorescence. Plants flower from April to December depending on the geographic region (June to September in North America). The flowers are pendulous when young, but become erect when they begin to mature into the fruit which is a capsule. The flowers are 9–12 mm long and produced in a cluster of 1–11 together at the apex of the inflorescence, which is a raceme. It flowers between early summer and mid autumn; plants that flower in summer are yellow and sparsely hairy, while those that flower in autumn are red and densely hairy. These two color "forms" overlap in flowering time. It has been suggested that yellow individuals are largely self-pollinating.

I had to update this post, and I'm going to probably come back and edit this post more as I understand these plants better.  If anyone has anything you'd like to share about these plants, please comment!  If you can verify if the first plants pictured are Indian Pipe and the second ones are Pinesap, I'd be grateful.