Friday, June 8, 2012

Whidbey Island

May 19th my wife and I took the day off and went to several locations on Whidbey Island looking for native orchids.  We started at the Au Sable Institute south of Coupeville, arriving quite early in the morning.  We were looking there for two orchids especially and found six.  We found the Western Spotted Coralroot at the peak of its bloom, a few Western Fairy Slippers still blooming, though past their peak, several plants of the Western Heart-leaved Twayblade in bloom, the Western and Ozette Coralroots growing but not yet in bloom, and the Giant Rattlesnake Plantain which was not yet sending up spikes and which does not bloom until August in this area.

Spotted Coralroots

Western Fairy Slipper

We followed several of the trails through the woods on the grounds of the Institute and found the Western Spotted Coralroots near where we parked, at various other places in the woods and several hundred of them in one place along the road where the trail came out of the woods.  We found only two or three flowers of the Fairy Slippers and they were beginning to fade, and only two plants of the Twayblade, both of which were at the peak of their bloom.  I am sure, though, that if we had looked harder we could have found other plants as well, since it is small and very difficult to spot in the damper areas of the woods.

Western Heart-leaved Twayblade

Western Spotted Coralroot

We also photographed a mushroom which appeared to me to be some kind of Death Angel mushroom, some Red-banded Polypores (Shelf Fungus), and a small white or pink flower which I cannot identify, but which is everywhere at this time of the year.  Finished we headed back north to the area of Deception Pass where we went first to Cornet Bay and Hoypus Hill.  There we were looking for the Western Coralroot but it was not yet blooming.  The area around Hoypus Hill was very busy with fishermen and they were parked all along the road where we found and photographed wild roses and the flowers of the Orange Honeysuckle which were just beginning to open.

Death Angel Species?

Red-banded Polypore or Conk

Pacific Starflower

Orange Honeysuckle

Clustered Wild Rose

On the trails at Hoypus Hill, we found other things to photograph, even though the Western Coralroots wer far from blooming.  We found some Candysticks, a saprophyte or monotrope, that were not yet in bloom but whose colorful stems were well above the ground, a large Pacific Banana Slug, and the ferns which were everywhere.  I spent quite a bit of time photographing the ferns while my wife tried to get a good picture of the one flower we found open on the Western Coralroots.  I am always intrigued by the shapes and curls of the fern fronds as they grow and tried to get some pictures of their beautiful new fronds.


Pacific Banana Slug


From Hoypus Hill we stopped at the Deception Pass bridge and hiked down the trail to the water where we wandered around taking pictures of the bridge, the driftwood, and anything else we could find including each other.  Since it was such a beautiful day we lounged around on the pebbly beach enjoying the sunshine and the sound of the waves.  One of the reasons for going on our excursions is getting away from the pressures of work and finding time to be together.  This trip certainly provided that and we returned home at the end of the day relaxed and happy as is evident, I think, from the pictures of my wife.

Deception Pass Bridge

From the parking area south of the Deception Pass bridge we hiked up Goose Rock, the highest point in that area and a wonderful place for wild flowers. We had not looked there before for native orchids but found two.  We found the Western Spotted Coralroot in the woods along the trail and nearby I took pictures of the beautiful leaves of the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis.  This will not be in bloom until August, but its leaves are more beautiful than its flowers anyway, these especially, which are the leaves of the reticulated form.  The ordinary form has only a single white stripe down the center of the leaf.

Reticulated form of the Giant Rattlesnake Orchis

Western Spotted Coralroot

At the top of the Goose Rock, on the balds, the Common Camas were still blooming along with the death Camas, the Indian Paintbrush, Field Chickweed and a lot of other wildflowers.  The Madronas, among our most beautiful trees (known in Canada as Arbutus),  were also putting out their beautiful new growth and we photographed the trees, their beautiful peeling bark and wood and the new leaves and hiked part way down the south side of the rock, but returned when we decided we really did not know where we were going.  Well satisfied and a bit tired we finally called it a day and headed home stopping for our supper along the way.

Goose Rock and Madrona Tree

Puget Sound from Goose Rock

Harsh Paintbrush

Field Chickweed

Madrona Leaves

Madrona Wood and Bark


  1. We saw them on this trip, but were back Thursday and they were gone - someone or something had gotten to them. There were two broken-off stubs left and it looked like one had been uprooted since there was a small hole there. They were right alongside the trail, so we suspect that some moron did it.

  2. So many wonderful shots =) Pretty native flowers!


    1. I wish everyone who sees these pictures could see the Pacific Northwest. IMO there is nowhere else like it. Thanks for commenting, Fizzie.


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