There’s a low-elevation trail I’ve been walking every couple weeks since early February. Even though I got hailed on briefly yesterday, the succession of new spring growth was a comfort. I found trilliums (Trillium ovatum) in full bloom. Also known—aptly—as wake robin, the trillium is one of the first splashy wildflowers of spring. A few were even starting to turn pink, as they do late in the bloom, sometimes even reaching a deep purple before fading. On the east side of the mountains the trilliums generally coincide with the first flush of morels; being on the west side, I didn’t hold my breath.
Along a boggy section of trail the skunk cabbages (Lysichitum americanum) had grown up considerably since my last visit. According to the U.S. Forest Service, skunk cabbage “is edible but has a concentration of crystals of calcium oxalate which can produce a stinging, burning sensation in the mouth when chewed raw.” Native Americans roasted and dried its roots.
Nearby another early wildflower, the Pacific bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa), was just coming into bloom. In the treetops above a purple finch sang its warbling tune while waves of ruby-crowned kinglets came through, calling to each other. White-crowned sparrows and violet-green swallows have returned, too.
At the end of the trail I saw this jaunty red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). Despite its visual appeal, the berries of this shrub are not considered choice.
Before leaving I picked a few petals of the salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) to add flair to a salad of spring greens from our garden. The Rubus genus includes raspberries, blackberries, thimbleberries, cloudberries, and others, most of which are famously edible.
p.s. I also saw another interesting plant that I’ll get to tomorrow…