Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) is an aggressive introduced species that spreads by both runners and seed. At Leaning Oaks it is more or less confined to the cultivated portions of the garden (despite my efforts) and to the lawn and other disturbed areas. Fortunately, most of our meadow is too dry for Creeping Buttercup to do very well. Contact with the sap of this species can cause skin blisters, so weeding this out wearing gloves is a good idea. There is a cultivar with a yellow variegated leaf called "Buttered Popcorn" - however, it is just as invasive as the wild type and worth avoiding.
I am going out on a limb here; there are two similar genera of syrphids and without a specimen I am not sure that I can say conclusively that this is a Melanostoma rather than a Platycheirus sp. There is only the one species of Melanostoma in this area. Syrphids are also known as Hover Flies or Flower Flies....and yes, you will often see them hovering over flowers! They are very important ecologically as pollinators and many are fabulous mimics of various Hymenopterans.
I really like this on-line key (even though I still couldn't get it to genus[!]) for its use of photos and clickable couplets.
Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)is an introduced species with arrowhead shaped leaves that spreads by underground runners. The female flowers (there are separate male and female plants) are burgundy red and the plant is not unattractive when in bloom. It is a very adaptable species, and grows in a wide variety of habitats. Here it grows in cracks in the bedrock in our Garry Oak meadow. The leaves are edible, and lemony-tart and make a good addition to a salad, soup or as a component of a salad dressing. Note however that they are high in oxalic acid, which is toxic in large quantities, so use in moderation. Other common names include Red Sorrel, Common Sorrel and Field Sorrel.
Baldhip Rose is the commonest wild rose on the property at Leaning Oaks. It is unusual for a rose in that is a shade tolerant species. Most roses retain the sepal crown on the bottom of the fruit (in the same way that an apple does), but this species drops this appendage and the small pear shaped fruit is smooth. The latin name, Rosa gymnocarpa refers to this; gymnocarpa means "naked fruit". The leaves can be used to make a rose tea.
Robert's Geranium (Geranium robertianum) is an introduced herbaceous weed. It is probably best known for its bright pink flowers and distinctly unpleasant smell if the foliage is crushed or bruised (earning it another common name, "Stinky Bob"). It is rumoured to be edible and has been used for a variety of medicinal uses, although at least one website cautions that there has been very little testing of side effects. It is one of the few non-native plants which can invade shady forests and I have seen it moving into some of the older forests on southern Vancouver Island.
Geranium is greek for "little crane's bill", in reference to the shape of the fruit.
Trailing Blackberry is both beloved and cursed, depending on where an individual plant grows and the nature of your interaction with it. The fruit is wonderful, and this species has been used in breeding programs to produced very flavourful blackberries. In addition, it is one of the parents of the hybrid loganberry, marionberry and boysenberry. The foliage is also very flavourful and is a very good leaf to steep to make blackberry tea. On the other hand, it can be a rapidly growing weed in the garden, fully capable of creeping along the ground or scrambling over shrubs and perennials for several meters in a single growing season. Branch tips often root, and a neglected vine quickly can turn into a big job. The stems are thorny, so pulling without gloves usually gets you a hand full of thorns. Summer strolls in flip-flops or sandals is an excellent way to find this plant, and it becomes painfully obvious why one alternative name is "ankle saw". Rubus ursinus ssp. macropetalus is dioecious, that is males and females are on separate plants. Pity that most of the plants here at Leaning Oaks are male, and therefore don't produce fruit. Alternate common names are Pacific Blackberry, Dewberry, Douglas Berry and California Blackberry. I have several other names for it, best not repeated here.
Spotless and shiny with a funky pattern on the pronotum that makes up for any lack of spots, Cycloneda polita is found through southern BC and west to the east slope of the Rockies.
The term ladybird originated in the Middle Ages. They were called "beetle of our Lady", referring to Mary (the virgin) as she was just about always dressed in red in religious paintings. The other origin of the name comes from the Catholic farmers praying to Mary for help with crops and when the beetles arrived and did help by chowing down on the aphids and other crop pests, the farmers referred to them as "our lady's beetle". (from "All things Catholic" and "English Stack Exchange"
Fringecup is one of my favourite native plants. The lush basal rosette and strange recurved, filigree petals are subtle, unusual and elegant. It is, however, the perfume that these flowers produce that makes Tellima grandiflora so rewarding. This perfume brings back strong memories of my days as a park naturalist. The hill behind the visitor centre at Goldstream Provincial Park was covered in Fringecup and its perfume was a fixture during the busy days of spring school programs.
Fringcup is a member of the saxifrage family and it is the only species in the genus. This makes the latin name (which means large flowered Tellima) sort of silly, since there is only one kind of Tellima.
Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina ssp. cyclosorum) is a large feathery fern at Leaning Oaks, second in size only to the Western Sword Fern. Unlike that species, which is evergreen, Lady Fern fronds go dormant in the fall and disappear for the winter months. It is a very attractive plant, and widely used in gardens. It grows best in shady sites that are slightly moist and shaded.
It is the two opposite leaves that are joined together forming a shallow cup that make this plant distinct. Other than that it can be quite variable depending on the moisture and soil conditions. Claytonia perfoliata ssp. perfoliata is edible and makes a bright addition to salads or anywhere that greens are desired.
Two biologists on a beautiful property armed with cameras, smart phones and a marginal knowledge of websites took up the challenge of documenting one species a day on that property. Join along! Posts and photographs by Leah Ramsay and David Fraser (unless otherwise stated; started January 1, 2014.