There are very many different types of wildflowers along the west coast of British Columbia (also including farther north and south). Some are just interesting to look at because they are unique and beautiful. Others have medicinal properties and/or are edible. They have long-standing uses by the native aboriginal peoples, and it is estimated that literally thousands of traditional medicines are derived from plants present along the west coast region. This is why the pristine beauty and hidden treasures of this area are definitely worth conserving, and should be left as undisturbed as possible.
Below is a sampling of some of my favourite kinds, just because they are beautiful, intriguing, interesting and/or unique.
Star-flowered False Solomon’s Seal
Perennial with star-like flowers. The fruit is a round, greenish-yellow berry with 3 or 6 blue-purple stripes, changing to dark blue or reddish-black at maturity. Berries are edible but not especially tasty.
Perennial with greenish-white, bell-shaped flowers that have flaring tips. The fruit is an oval-oblong berry (yellow to red, sometimes turning dark purple). According to Pojar and MacKinnon, most aboriginal people regard the plants and berries as poisonous.
White Fawn Lilly
Perennial with mottled leaves.
According to Pojar and MacKinnon, Erythronium comes from the Greek erythros for red, in reference to some pinkish-flowered species that were used in ancient times to make a dye.
Perennial, with a pretty and unique flower.
The bulbs were eaten by Coast Salish, including the Squamish, Sechelt, Halq’emeylem and Straits Salish. These plants are quite rare in many places and should be left undisturbed.
Mountain Lady Slipper
Very elegant flower design, but threatened by over-collecting. This orchid reportedly takes 15 years to flower.
Flowers are arranged in a spiral fashion around the spike.
Annual, with slender taproot and leaves forming a disk around the stem, above mid-length. This species is extremely variable in size, colour and shape of leaves, and size of flowers. Called miner’s-lettuce because early miners and settlers used it as a salad vegetable.
Sepals are about one cm long, fused into a chalice. This appears to be a weedy, introduced species.
This is a common weed, originally from Europe and found in places where there is human-caused disturbance. It has been used in Europe as a source of edible greens and spicy seeds.
Perennial, with three leaflets that are irregularly lobed and coarsely toothed. Tiarella species are called “foamflowers” because the flowers appear like specks of foam.
1. Plants of Coastal British Columbia including Washington, Oregon & Alaska. Pojar and MacKinnon; Lone Pine publishing, 2004.