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Taxonomy, Virtual Petroglyphs and Google Earth

June 19, 2007


When we arrive there in a couple of weeks, I can conjure the experience of here by visiting these sites in cyberspace that stay put while I move from place to place. The closer the date to our departure, the more I seem to want to add to my Web 2.0 accounts. It’s as if I want to show my appreciation to this Island by naming and locating the whatness and whereness of things. Thanks to Dave and to friends like Louise and Jim who know wildflowers, shrubs and trees with help the web, I’ve come to better understand the delicate, unique ecosystems here. Through Google Earth I’ve been able to situate with some certainty photos on Flickr and the Google Earth community and videos on Youtube. I use Google docs to write notes about them and WordPress to blog it.

Brenda, Diego, Mohammed, Glynelda, Jim, Dave and I visited East Sooke Regional Park on southern Vancouver Island on Sunday, June 17, 2007. We parked at the end of Becher Bay road and walked to Creyke Point looking out over Juan de Fuca Strait with Campbell Cove on one side and Becher Bay on the other.From Creyke Point (48°19’31.29″N, 123°37’49.56″W), East Sooke Regional park we could see Wolfe Island (48°19’27.79″N, 123°38’5.69″W) in Campbell Bay. Beyond the Juan de Fuca Strait the Olympic Mountain Range was barely visible through the clouds. It took about an hour to reach the Alldridge petroglyphs (48°19’4.01″N, 123°38’20.02″W) because we stopped to take photos and videos of a large arbutus, a life-rich tidal pool (where Dave, Jim and Diego found sea anemones, chitons, sea stars, coral, goose-neck and rock barnacles, sculpin): wildflowers like Blue-eyed Grass, Castilleja coccinea, Fool’s Onion and stone crop, pine trees clinging to the rocks dwarfed by the strong ocean winds, waves crashing along the coastal trail. We watched two sea lions emerge near us just off shore when we stopped for lunch on a rocky outcrop. We didn’t go the extra ten kilometers to see the Beechey Head landmark (48°18’52.34″N, 123°39’15.67″W) as we had a few months ago. The Alldridge petroglyphs (48°19’4.01″N, 123°38’20.02″W) had been defaced with graffiti since our last visit. At Alldridge Point we chose to return along the coastal trail rather than take the wooded trail back to Aylard Farm. On the way back we saw a sea otter enjoying the fish he had just caught. An eagle landed and surveyed the surroundings as we sipped coffee and tea on the patio of the Smoking Tuna. Young Diego explored the docks, launched his toy sailboat and admired the harbour seals. Dave took photos of the petroglyphs at Alldrige Point.

This photo of Indian paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea was taken just off the trail near Creyke Point looking out towards Campbell Cove.

The bright orange, showy parts of Indian paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea, are actually bracts (modified leaves), with a flower inside each bract. Many members of the Scrophulariaceae are photosynthetic root parasites (hemiparasites), such as Indian paintbrush. Paintbrushes Castilleja along with the rare Henderson’s checker-mallow (Sidalcea hendersonii), sweet gale (Myrica gale), sedges (Carex sp) and shooting stars (Dodecatheon sp) are among the rare plants of the tidal area of Metchosin.

Fool’s Onion Brodiaea hyacinthina. I found these on the coastal trail just beyond Aldridge Point. The plant is sometimes mistaken for onions,the allium family, and is therefore called Fool’s Onion. This West Coast native brodiaea is frequently found from Southern British Columbia to Northern California West of the Cascade Mountains. It is not uncommon to find it growing among grasses or sagebrush. It can grow in USDA zones 4-9 in a well-drained sunny spot. See Hansen, Wallace W. “Native Plants of the Northwest.”

I found these Blue-eyed Grasses genus Sisyrinchium bellum not far from the Fool’s Onion. “Blue-eyed grasses genus Sisyrinchium are part of flowering plants of the Iris family Iradaceae. They are stiff grasslike plants with 6 petals each tipped with a small point. The fruit is a small round pod. There are between 70 to 150 species (according to different authors), all native to the New World. The name Sisyrinchium is derived from the Greek words sys (pig) and “rhynchos” (nose), referring to the habit of pigs grubbing the roots. These are not true grasses, but many species are low-growing, and the leaves of some appear to be grass-like; and they do often grow on grasslands. Many species resemble irises, to which they are more closely related. Most species grow as perennial plants, from a rhizome, though some are short-lived (e.g. S. striatum), and some are annuals (e.g. S. iridifolium). The flowers are relatively simple and often grow in clusters. Many species, particularly the South American ones, are not blue, despite the common name. Flower colours in the genus includes white, yellow, and purple, as well as blue, often with a contrasting centre. Of the species in the United States, the Western Blue-eyed Grass, Sisyrinchium bellum, is sometimes found with white flowers (wiki).” They are found in open grassy places on the Pacific coast blooming for a long time in spring to summer.

Stone-crop

Stone-crop

Webliography

2005. Notes Native Study Group

“Scrophulariaceae Indian paintbrush, Castilleja coccinea” digital flowers
http://www.life.uiuc.edu/help/digitalflowers/Scrophulariaceae/11.htm

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Taxonomy, Virtual Petroglyphs and Google Earth” >> speechless

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Taxonomy, Virtual Petroglyphs and Google Earth” >> http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddp3qxmz_297r3d4jw

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