The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you. Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers. All are worthy additions to the bucket. Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.March 28, 2013
Tidal marsh wetland
Salish Sea, Washington
I've been watching the patch of Henderson's Checkermallow at a wetland on the island for some years now, and saw its first leaves of the year today. I have a special interest in this native perennial, our local "marsh mallow".
When the Checkermallow and its status became evident in the early 1990s, the landowner agreed to sell the 25 acres to the county Land Bank whose mandate is to preserve and protect in perpetuity. Part of this acreage had been ditched and drained, and cultivated with nonnative grasses for grazing sheep very early on in the settlement of the island. Our one village is right next to it. This open wetland is now a place for runoff biofiltration and a refuge for wildlife and native plants. A lovely bit of public nature.
Much of the site is nearly flat, so high tides wash salty water in, mixing with freshwater runoff, to create a gradation of soil salinity, from the dryer grassy zone (in the foreground of the photo below) down to the brackish permanently wet zone by the bay (past the driftwood). Henderson's Checkermallow is fairly salt-tolerant, so it thrives midway where it is wet and sunny. Deer seem to leave it alone, and its flowers attract bees and hummingbirds through the summer.
During his long and vigorous career, he collected plants in virtually every corner of the state (Oregon) as well as in Washington and Idaho. At the time, he may have understood the flora of the Northwest better than any living person. Henderson's tens of thousands of meticulously annotated specimens—now at Oregon State University, the University of Washington, the National Herbarium, the Gray Herbarium, and elsewhere—provide a detailed record of the changing plant communities of the Northwest from the 1870s to World War II. (oregonencyclopedia.org)He explored and collected all over the Northwest, was a botanist and forester for the state of Washington, and established the Botany department at the University of Idaho, as its first professor. We can only imagine how devastating it must have been when a fire burned the Herbarium he had founded, with all its 85,000 specimens and all his personal files.
This feat was reported in newspapers, and caught the attention of the Botany Department at the University of Oregon. He was hired as curator and spent the next 15 years collecting and curating, before retiring for good at 86.
Many plants are named after him, most of them native to the West Coast, a worthy tribute. Besides the Checkermallow, here are some others.
What's blooming or leafing.....buzzing or fluttering.....blowing or singing in your backyard today? Bunnies laying eggs? chocolate or marshmallow? All observations are welcome in the Bucket!