My favorite part about hiking? The plants! I love to identify wild plants, trees, wildflowers, and berries. Many of them I learned in a restoration ecology course I took as part of my Environmental Studies degree, but many I learned on my own, simply by looking in plant books and memorizing their names. Knowing the plants has really helped me create a sense of place; a sense of belonging to the land; a sense of connection. Oregon is my home, and these plants are my neighbors.
In certain parks or hiking trails, I know where certain plants will bloom year after year--the violets by the walkway, the false hellebore by the stream, the trilliums by the park bench. Year after year I visit these old friends, and I discover new ones. Once you begin to learn the plants, they stay in your memory so easily. Where you saw them. When you saw them. Their names, and edible or medicinal properties. Your brain was made to remember these things.
Here are a few of the wildflowers (ok, and a fern because I love them!) that I've seen on recent spring hikes. Now is prime time for wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest!
Siberian minor's lettuce
Red flowering currant
Arrow leaf balsamroot