Ecological Restoration Specialists

SNP live stakes outperform others

According to a new study on willow live stake planting by King County, SNP’s wild harvested live stakes outperformed smaller, nursery-grown cuttings and had an astounding 99%  survival rate and 90% cover after 3-years, with absolutely no site preparation or maintenance. You can see the study summary here – in the study, the largest sized stakes were provided by SNP. Even better, we reduced the price on these stakes by 25% since this study was conducted, making them much more cost-effective.

Cornus unalaschkensis – Bunchberry

Bunchberry

Plant of the Month

Cornus unalaschkensis – Bunchberry

Bunchberry is the smallest member of the dogwood family. A perennial trailing groundcover with 4 to 6 whorled leaves, bunchberry spreads rhizomatously along the forest floor. It prefers to grow in shade on a thick layer of woody duff in the moist forests or bogs of the western mountains. With 4 luminous white petal-like bracts surrounding a cluster of small flowers in the center, bunchberry blossoms in late spring and summer. In summer and fall, bunchberry develops a tight cluster of red berries borne in an upright spray an inch above the foliage. Songbirds enjoy these edible berries, and various Native American groups harvested them as a food source.

The narrowly ovate, pointed leaves of bunchberry feature prominent veins that curve and meet at the tip. In the winter, some of the semi-evergreen leaves turn red, adding color to the winter months. The plants themselves grow from 4 to 8 inches tall.

Bunchberry blossoms are the fastest-opening flowers in the world, producing a small explosion of pollen. The blossoms open in less than 0.4 milliseconds–less than the time it takes a bullet to travel the length of a rifle barrel.  The pollen’s initial acceleration is more than 2400 times the acceleration of gravity, producing 800 times greater force than astronauts experience during lift-off. This explosion launches the pollen 2.5 centimeters into the air, ten times the height of the flower! To watch a super-high speed video of a bunchberry flower opening, click here.

Thanks to our employee, the talented Sachiko Goode for providing this month’s illustration.

SNP no longer accepting used pots

For years we’ve accepted used pots from the community, and washed and reused them. Sadly, we must now discontinue this service, for two reasons. First, we have grown increasingly concerned about the role of nurseries in spreading potentially disastrous plant pathogens. For example, sudden oak death was introduced into the Pacific Northwest by a nursery shipping infected plants. We have no reliable way to thoroughly sterilize our pots, and we don’t want to be responsible for spreading disease into natural areas. Second, most pots are now manufactured so cheaply that they break apart after one use. In recent years we have landfilled over 70% of the pots people bring us because they are broken and non longer usable. It is with some regret that we make this decision. Sometimes, the path toward responsible ecosystem stewardship is more complicated than we would like, and we think this is the most environmentally responsible choice.

Garry oak – Quercus garryana

Quercus-garryana

Quercus garryana, also called Garry oak or Oregon white oak, is the only oak native to Washington, ranging from California to British Colombia. It has lobed, deciduous leaves, and greenish-yellow flowers which appear in separate male and female catkins. First peoples traditionally used the acorns for food, eating them roasted or treating them using various methods to remove the bitter taste, then making soup or bread. Lumber from Garry oak was used in ship-building and furniture. Due to its strength and rot-resistance, Garry oak also was used as for fence posts. This is a slow-growing species, but it may live up to five hundred years and often reaches sixty feet in height at maturity. It is drought tolerant, and can grow in many types of soil, from gravelly prairies to seasonally flooded plains.Garry oak is often considered a dry site species, but it also grows along wetland and stream edges in close association with Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia).

Garry oaks are most common on sites regularly disturbed by fire, and sites that are not suitable for taller tree species, as they are vulnerable to being over-topped and crowded out. This makes them an early successional, or seral species. They establish especially well with a frequent fire regime, as mature trees are fire tolerant and sprout vigorously from their trunk or roots after burns. Since settlers began suppressing wildfires, Douglas-fir encroachment has substantially reduced the extent of Garry oak woodlands, harming out not only oaks but the diverse set of species that depend on the oak woodlands, which include a variety of jays, woodpeckers, squirrels and other small mammals.