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P1130915

© JY of jtdytravels; P1130915

Ah yes! What a morning; waking up to this stunning view from our room … clouds reflected in a glassy sea inside a sheltered cove. Not a bad start to a day! And now we were up to Day 3 of our expedition exploring the islands and coves of Alaska’s Inside Passage aboard National Geographic/ Lindblad’s ship, “Sea Lion”. But where exactly were we?

Kelp Bay Map

Kelp Bay Map

Overnight we’d sailed, from Petersburg, north back up Frederick Sound, past where we had seen all those whales, turned west at Five Finger Lighthouse and sailed down the main shipping channel until we could turn north into Chatham Straight and on to Kelp Bay. We were still within the wilderness of the immense Tongass National Park.

Pond Island Bay

Pond Island Bay

Our activities for the morning would centre around Pond Island Bay.

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P1110039

This was the first day for kayaking and there were many excited people on board just waiting to explore the shore line on their own in a kayak. I had chosen to explore a little further afield by inflatable DIB and David had chosen to do another forest walk. Before anyone could take part in any of these activities, the kayaks had to be lowered from the roof and taken ashore.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130920

David’s walking group, taken by Lee, was the first to go ashore.

That’s David in the blue jacket with his trusty brown backpack at the ready.

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The need for boots is clear…

this was the usual style of wet landing in icy waters on a pebbly shore.

Tongass National Forest, Alaska

Tongass National Forest, Alaska

David’s walk was yet another walk and plant hunt in Tongass National Forest, the forest area that we had been exploring ever since we left Juneau.  Established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, Tongass is the largest National Forest in the USA. It covers approximately 80% of Southeast Alaska; 69,000 square kilometres, or almost seventeen and a half million acres, and it encompasses more than 5,000 islands and more than 16,000 miles of shoreline. In fact, it covers all of the area known as the Inside Passage except for the Glacier Bay National Park (which is the large white area just west of Juneau on the map).

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The Tongass is part of the world’s largest remaining coastal temperate rainforest even though, during the past century, substantial portions of the large tree, old-growth forest have been harvested. There is much discussion today about how to protect and conserve the remaining high-value forest; high value for the environment and all the wildlife within the the forest and its waters, but also high value timber for the foresting industry.

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Shelf fungus ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1110053

As we have seen on David’s other forest walks, shelf fungus is not hard to find.

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Fungus  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1110045

Wherever there’s debris from logging, or just from trees falling after big wind storms as happened here, mosses grow and, with them, fungi. This fungi, which forms quite a sculptural group, was missed by most of the walking group. Fortunately for those of us doing an armchair walk with David, he is very observant. People who actually walk with him are often amazed at what he sees, and photographs.

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Hypopitys monotropa  P1110051

One very small, strange looking plant that David saw, but most others missed, was growing down in the mosses. This plant is commonly known as Pinesap, and that maybe because it’s a saprophyte which ‘saps’ the juices of its host, in this case the pines under which it grows.  It’s scientific name is Hypopitys monotropa from the Greek hypos, meaning beneath, and pitys meaning tree. That all makes sense; but what about monotropa? That refers to the flowers which all face one way; and they do.

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Here at Pond Island, many trees were unfortunately uprooted in a large windstorm. This is a natural phenomenon in forests. But in other parts of the Tongass, there has been a great deal of logging done over many years and the status of the Tongass will be degraded if logging continues unabated. So what are the pros and cons in the discussion about old-growth vs. second-growth? Our naturalists gave this answer.

In old-growth forests, uneven aged trees provide a broken, patchy canopy that permits sunlight to penetrate and support a healthy plant community on the forest floor. Any old-growth forests sustains the health of watersheds and aquatic systems, regulates water temperature and moderates flooding. Here in Alaska, this healthy water creates habitat for fish and wildlife.  The high quality water habitat supports many fish such as the five kinds of salmon, the mainstay of the local fishing industry. It also provides a healthy environment for harbour seals and sea birds as well as a high quality land habitat for brown bear, black bear, wolves, deer and squirrels to name a few of the forest dwellers. Dozens of bird species are also associated with old-growth forest habitats, including Bald Eagle and Northern Goshawk. Other birds such as woodpeckers,Marbled Murrelets and Brown Creepers nest in old growth tree cavities.

On the other hand, after harvesting old growth forest, the area is replaced by a dense even-aged stand that inhibits sunlight and thus understory growth, resulting in relatively sterile habitat that will not support many of these species. To log or not to log old growth? To me it’s what is known as a “no brainer”!

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Squirrel ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1110083

And while we are talking about the need for old growth forests for forest dwellers… this cute squirrel is one of them. In spring, squirrels feast on the new tender buds of spruce, hemlock and alder. As is the case with all squirrels, they also feed on seeds and nuts.

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A squirrel midden ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1110102

In autumn, they ‘squirrel’ away cones and seeds in chambers in their tunnels or in their forest floor middens. The midden is covered in holes where a squirrel has been busy planting its food treasures.  Not all squirrels have tunnels; some make nests in the trees or in holes in old growth trees. Although seeds and nuts are their main food source, squirrels also cut off fungi and take them up into trees to lodge in crotches of branches to eat later.

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Conifer forest ©  DY of jtdytravels; P1110061

Within these forests, as we have seen on these walks with David, there is a wide diversity of vegetation types, ranging from lichens, mosses, liverworts, and ferns to flowering plants and shrubs to large trees that can be centuries old; some more than one thousand years old.

We hope it remains so always for many more people like us to enjoy; and, more importantly, for all of the birds, flora, fauna and fish that are dependent on it for their well being; and for the health of the air that we all breathe.

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Tsuga heterophylla P1110060

Tongass National Forest is made up mainly of Conifers, cone-bearing trees such as hemlock, and spruce, cedar and shore pine with Alder on the forest edges. But two trees are the most abundant; Western Hemlock, 70%, and Sitka Spruce, 20%. So what’s the difference? 

The leaves of the Western Hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla, are are blunt-tipped, soft, shiny, and flat unlike the sharp needles of the spruce. Hemlock leaves are light green to medium green on top, with two whitish parallel lines beneath.  They grow from two sides of branch, parallel to the ground.

The cones of the Western hemlock are brown, oval-shaped, about 3 cm (1 inch) long and have thin, papery scales. They hang down at end of twig. These hemlocks can grow to between 45 and 60 meters  in height (100 to 150 feet) and .6 to 1.2 meters (2 to 4 ft) in diameter. If left unlogged, they can live anywhere from 200 to 500 years.

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Picea sitchensis P1110112

The cones of the Sitka Spruce, Picea sitchensis, are quite different; they are the usual conifer cone shape that most of us are familiar with.  They are light orange-brown, usually found in the top quarter of tree, hanging down from branches, with papery scales. 

The sharp needle like leaves of the spruce are dark green and grow on all sides of branches from woody pegs. This is a characteristic common only to spruce.

These trees may live between 500 and 700 years; some have been known to be 1,000 years old.  At maturity they reach between 46 to 67 meters (150 to 225 feet) in height and 1.5 to 2.5 meters (5 to 8 feet) in diameter. 

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The remains of a logged forest  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1110100

This part of the walk is quite a mess after the storm.

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Indeed, it was often more like a scramble than a walk;

climbing under and over logs…

it was for the fit and adventurous; not for the faint of heart!

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Corallorhiza maculata ssp. maculata © DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1110090

While scrambling through the forest, David found a rather lovely saprophytic orchid, known as Coralroot, Corallorhiza maculata ssp. maculata.  It’s similar to the white-lipped Corallorhiza maculata but this one has magenta spots on its lip, hence the variation in name.

These orchids derive their nutrients from the decaying matter in the rich humus of moist coniferous forests such as this one. Because they don’t need to make their own food, they lack the green colouring of most plants.

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Alnus rubra ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1110059

The Red Alder, Alnus rubra, is usually found on the edges of the forest and is quite different from either the spruce or the hemlock. It’s a fast growing deciduous tree that only lives for about 50 years. It helps to fix nitrogen into the soil and thus helps smaller plants to grow on the outer edges of the forest.

The leaves of the Red alder are broad, pointed at both the base and the tip and they seem to roll over. This is the difference between the Red alder and the more common Sitka alder which has sharp toothed leaves that are not rolled over. (David photographed the Sitka alder at the Mendenhall Glacier.)

The cones of the Red alder are small, hang down in clusters and they stay on the trees during winter. The cones contain winged nutlets that the squirrels enjoy.

Red alder wood is considered by many to be the best wood for smoking salmon and other kinds of fish; another reason for it to be logged. The wood is soft and is used for carving items such as feast bowls and masks. The red bark makes a red or orange dye;  the differences in colour can be attributed to either the age of the bark or the addition of substances like urine!

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Pond Island Bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1110054

Finally, David and his fellow walkers emerged from the forest. They looked out into the bay where the kayakers were still having fun and where I was exploring the water’s edges in a DIB. More of that anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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P1130820

Muskeg bog plateau © JT of jtdytravels; P1130820

Once we had reached the border between the forest and the wet boggy Muskeg Plateau on the hill above Petersburg, the walking was much easier, the steps were not so steep and we had a different lot of plants to look for and photograph. The first one was obvious. All the way along the side of the path were the fluffy white seed heads of cotton plants, Eriophorum. 

Eriophorum chamissonis ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130833

Eriophorum chamissonis © JT of jtdytravels; P1130833

David and I have seen various cotton grass species in many wet boggy areas in Europe, especially in the peat bogs of Ireland.  Eriophorum chamissonis, is one of the two cotton grasses common in the muskegs of this part of Alaska. This species has a solitary spikelet at the tip of a rounded slender stem. The plant grows from spreading rhizomes, so if conditions are right, they can spread rather quickly.

In fact, cotton grass is so extensive on these muskegs that, in a good year, the whole plateau can look white like snow because of the fluffy heads.

Blechnum spicant ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130816

Blechnum spicant © JT of jtdytravels; P1130816

One of the plants growing just at the border between forest and bog was this upright fern commonly called Deer Fern; Blechnum spicant. I’ve read that some indiginous peoples used to chew the very young leaves as hunger suppressants! Others used the leaves to treat skin sores. Apparently, the people had noticed that the deer, who love to eat this plant, would rub their antlers on the leaves after their antlers had fallen off.

The problem for us as plant photographers here in the muskeg was that plants were often just tantalisingly out of reach; we couldn’t step off the boardwalk onto the grass to take photos as it was very, very wet; and, in any case, our footsteps would harm the environment.

Moose fotsteps in the bog ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130842

Moose footsteps in the bog © JT of jtdytravels; P1130842

Of course, the native animals didn’t use the boardwalk, as these moose footsteps show… at least we were told that they belonged to a moose. That’s all we saw of any moose.

Our naturalist, Caroline ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130828

Our naturalist, Caroline Jezierski © JT of jtdytravels; P1130828

A single file line up of walkers is not the easiest place to give a talk about muskeg bogs. However, our very knowledgeable and delightful naturalist, Caroline Jezierski, solved the problem… she found a dryish patch off the boardwalk so that she could talk to us all about this very different environment. So what is muskeg? The name is used in Western Canada and Alaska to describe peat bog that is formed, often over millennia, by an accumulation of slowly decaying matter in undrained or poorly drained land. Because of the wetness and lack of phosphates and nitrates in the soil, trees are scattered and generally stunted. 

The land behind Caroline clearly shows the line where the muskeg, on the plateau, meets the forest, on the downward slope of the hill. It’s all about drainage and decomposition.

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Reflections in bog pool © JT of jtdytravels; P1130821

Muskeg forms in areas that have abundant rain, cool summers and very poor drainage. It’s permanently waterlogged with stagnant pools. The soil is acidic and relatively infertile, preventing the growth of the large trees to 33 m (100 ft) such as those we’d seen growing further down on the slope where drainage is more normal.

Down there, in the forest that we’d just walked through, the soil is drier and, when a plant dies there, it is attacked by bacteria and fungi and rots away relatively quickly. But here in this bog, dead plants decompose differently.  Cool temperatures and less oxygen in water-logged soils combine to cause bacterial and fungal growth to markedly slow down and so the whole process of decomposition is much slower; so slow that, over time, as plant debris gradually accumulates, it forms peat and eventually becomes a muskeg environment of specialised bog loving plants.

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Bog plants © JT of jtdytravels; P1130826

It was hard to believe the notion of cool summers as the sun beat down on us that hot afternoon. But this was a dry summer; many of the bog pools were drying out and conditions were too warm and dry for a normal month of June. The roots of these bog plants would soon dry out if normal conditions didn’t soon return. The balance of nature is very much effected by changes in climate and June had been the driest month on record for the area.

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Dry bog pool © JT of jtdytravels; P1130852

This ‘pool’ was already too dry to support any of the usual bog plants.

Dry, warm summers might be good for visitors to the area

but they are not good for muskeg plants.

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Jake’s Seat © DY of jtdytravels; P1130838

At this point in our walk, there was a small rest platform for which a number of us were very thankful. I was also grateful to the family of “Jake” who had placed a wooden seat on this platform. I took the opportunity to rest for a few minutes and take in the scenery.

Stunted tree ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130869

Stunted tree © JT of jtdytravels; P1130869

The main group continued with the walk across the plateau towards the higher slope where the forest began again. Someone thought they could see an eagle’s nest. With fewer people on the board walk, David took the chance to get some photos of the plants that he found growing in these boggy conditions. Good plant photography can’t be rushed and, with most bog plants growing so low to the ground, you really do need a bit of space to kneel. David’s results were well worth the effort as we shall see.

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Eriophorum angustifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100500

The well named Arctic Cotton, or Cotton Grass, Eriophorum angustifolium is the other local species of Cotton grass plant on the muskeg. It, too, enjoys wet roots in peaty bogs. But,unlike the single headed  Eriophorum chamissonis, which I’d photographed earlier, this plant has 2 to 8 fluffy spikelets on each stem, drooping in a cluster.

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Fauria crista-galli © DY of jtdytravels; P1100518

This Deer Cabbage flower, Fauria crista-galli, had several small visitors!

David says he didn’t actually see the mites when taking the photo…

they are really very tiny!

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Drosera rotundifolia © DY of jtdytravels; P1100503

My favourite muskeg plants were the Sundews; insectivorous plants that thrive here in the bogs where nutrients are low. These are Drosera rotundifolia, which are very small plants and you really do have to get down to see them clearly. But to see them was well worth the long, hot hike up that hill.

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Drosera rotundifolia © DY of jtdytravels; P1100502

A close up of the stunningly beautiful Round-leaved Sundew; Drosera rotundifolia. The leaves are covered with sticky gland-tipped hairs that capture and digest insects. How amazing is the evolution of plant species! I always delight in finding plants like these.

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Drosera anglica © DY of jtdytravels; P1100508

And this is another species of Sundew found in a nearby bog pool.

This one is the Great Sundew;  Drosera anglica.

It’s much less common than the Round-leaved Sundew; Drosera rotundifolia

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Drosera anglica © DY of jtdytravels; P1100516

A close up of a Great Sundew;  Drosera anglica.

Different shaped leaves but the same mechanism for catching insects.

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Linnaea borealis © DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100484

Another very low-growing plant is Linnaea borealis or Twin Flower. I enjoyed seeing this delightful pink flowering plant which David had seen on an earlier walk. It seemed quite at home growing amongst the sphagnum moss on the muskeg.

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Sphagnum sp. © JT of jtdytravels; P1130872

Various types of sphagnum are the most common plants on the muskeg.

They are the original colonising plants of these areas and

they help to provide some nutrients for plants such as the Twin Flower.

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Unknown flower © DY of jtdytravels; P1100489

This is one flower we found that we haven’t been able to identify. Although David does know many plant names, when he is out of area in places like this bog in Alaska, many of the plants are new to him. We’ve had to search our books and the internet to name many of the plants in this Alaskan diary. We find that Images on Google is a great place to go to help in verification after a first effort at naming. Sometimes, however, we come up with a blank. If anyone can help with the correct naming of this flower, please leave a comment at the end of the post.

Platanthera dilitata ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100495

Platanthera dilitata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100495

The lovely White Bog-Orchid,  Platanthera dilitata, was much easier to identify. The waxy flowers of this orchid might be small but they are very fragrant, smelling, some say, of a mixture of cloves, vanilla and mock orange.  The plant is poisonous and extracts from it were used by some indigenous groups to act as bait for bears. Pretty but poisonous!

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130848

While David was photographing all of these low growing plants,

I was enjoying the sculptural shapes of stunted trees.

And this one had a small visitor.

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Dragonfly © JT of jtdytravels; P1130859

A dragonfly; it seemed to take little notice of me or of my camera.

I was able to observe it closely and was delighted by those delicate, gauzy wings.

Sometimes it pays to be on your own… take time … and be still..

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Linnaea borealis © JT of jtdytravels; P1130873

Just as we left the plateau to make our way back down the hill, I noticed this patch of Twin flowers, Linnaea borealis. The small piece of wood beside them gives some idea of relative scale. They are tiny; but so beautiful.

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Rubus pedatus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100498

Back in the edges of the old growth forest, David found this perennial trailing plant that likes to grow on moss, Rubus pedatus, or Five-leaved Bramble. The leaves, as the name suggests, are divided into five toothed leaflets. They give the plant its species name, pedatus, or foot. The fruit forms a small juicy flavourful cluster, like a raspberry.

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Interesting leaf shapes © DY of jtdytravels; P1100519

More interesting leaf shapes caught David’s eye. A quick photo and after that there was no chance to photograph anything. The rest of the group seemed anxious to return to Petersburg and have time to explore there.

So it was a very quick and anything but an easy descent on those unevenly spaced and sized steps of the boardwalk. With my brand new bifocals, I was having a bit of trouble gauging the distances down the steps and there were no hand rails!  I was grateful to my companions, teenagers Alex and Rachael, who told me not to hurry and promised help if I should falter!

I was quite relieved to reach the level path in the lower forest that lead us back to the shore.

 

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Back to the jetty © DY of jtdytravels; P1100526

While we’d been out walking, the tide had come in quite a way. At least the ramp down to the pontoon would not be nearly so steep, but still steep enough.

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The view back to Petersburg © DY of jtdytravels; P1100527

While waiting for our DIB, David took one last view of Petersburg and the mountains beyond.

No wonder they call it ‘little Norway”!

More anon

Jennie and David

All Photography copyright ©  JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoyed this, please pass on the site to others.

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Map showing Petersburg © JT of jtdytravels; P1130582

Map showing Petersburg © JT of jtdytravels; P1130582

After lunch on Day 2 of our exploration of Alaska’s Inside Passage, we cruised back along Frederick Sound towards the small fishing town of Petersburg; it was the only town we would visit on this trip. As you can see, we hadn’t travelled very far, but that was the real purpose of this expedition; to take the time to slow down; to really explore and enjoy this wilderness environment far from the busyness of daily life.

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Frederick Sound © JT of jtdytravels; P1130763

Once more we were awed by the majesty of snow topped mountains.

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Ice chunk in Frederick Sound © DY of jtdytravels; P1100284

Chunks of ice continued to float by; strange, natural sculptures.

Ice chunks such as this were a very important part of the story of Petersburg.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130773

As we turned into a narrow channel off Frederick Sound, a group of houses came into view and a small fishing boat passed us on its way out. Petersburg’s reason for existing is fishing!

The town was built here in this beautiful but isolated part of the wilderness for two reasons; an abundance of fish in the icy cold waters and an abundance of ice.  Before the days of large scale refrigeration, those ice chunks that come from the LeConte Glacier were used to keep the fish fresh until it could be canned or sent fresh to market.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130770

The waters here are tidal and some buildings along the edge are on poles.

Many houses have steep roofs because of the abundance of snow.

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Bald Headed Eagle © DY of jtdytravels; P1100566

As we entered the port, our attention was taken by a bald eagle.

They are truly magnificent birds.

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Eagle on navigation buoy in harbour © JT of jtdytravels; P1130780

It landed on one of the navigation markers as we went by.

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Successful dive for a fish! © DY of jtdytravels; P1130781

As we came closer, it began to feast on its catch.

These eagles are not like the town scavengers we had seen in Juneau.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130881

The waterfront at Petersburg is lined with fish processing sheds in which over 45.5 million kilos (100 million pd) of fish and shellfish are processed annually; canned, smoked and fresh. That’s a lot of fish from one very remote, small village!

The types of fish caught here include all five species of salmon; king (chinook); coho (silver); pink (humpy); sockeye (red); and chum (dog).  Other fish include halibut (a bottom feeder), ling cod, Pacific cod, herring and several species of rock fish. Shellfish such as Dungeness Crab, King Crab, Tanner, shrimp, scallops and clams are also caught in these cold waters.

Just reading that list makes my mouth water. We ate salmon cooked in a variety of ways of during our trip but, on this night in Petersburg, we were promised a fabulous feast of Dungeness crab.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130884

One of the sheds is adorned with a Viking Ship emblem, and for very good reason. This fishing village was founded more than 100 years ago by Norwegian fisherman, Peter Buschmann, after whom the village is named. He arrived in the area in the late 1890s; that’s after the start of the gold rush in the Juneau / Skagway areas. What this astute fisherman noted was the possibilities of this fine harbour tucked away off Frederick Sound with its abundance of fish, an abundance of ice floating by in the Sound and an abundance of timber for building. With other Scandinavian fishermen he set up a sawmill, a homestead, a dock and and a cannery. Today the village is known as ‘little Norway” and is still populated by people who are largely of Scandinavian origin.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130784

Building and boat repairs are other important occupations in the village.

The boat on the right will certainly need repairs!

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130879

Most fishing boats are kept in good condition. They need to be. Fishermen’s lives depend on the good maintenance of their boats. Not long before we arrived there, one boat that had not been properly repaired went down. Fortunately they had done a safety drill before they left port and their radio call brought the rescue helicopter to their aid. All of the men were winched to safety… the last man just as the boat sank from sight. But imagine what it was like in days past, when there was no rescue helicopter; a great many men were lost while fishing.

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© JT of jtdytravels; P1130880

The marina is filled with fishing boats of a variety of sizes and purposes. Three different kinds predominate; trollers, which bring fish in using lines with baited hooks; gilnetters, which use large curtain-like nets to entangle fish; and purse seiners, like the one we saw earlier in Frederick Sound, which let out a large net drawn in a circle before closing it at the bottom like a purse. Their goal is salmon swimming near the surface.

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Port of Petersburg © DY of jtdytravels; P1100471

There were plenty of smaller boats in the marina as well… the main way to get anywhere here is by water. In fact, apart from flying in, the only way to get anywhere is by water. A ferry system connects Petersburg to Juneau in the north and Ketchikan in the south.  Small ships, like ours, bring visitors to the area although none of the big cruise liners come here… the port is far too small.  Leisure fishermen and hikers arrive by sea plane or by daily commercial flights to Petersburg’s small airport. So although commercial fishing is the mainstay of the economy, tourism does play a part. Fishing tourism is particularly popular here in summer.

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“Sea Lion” docked in Petersburg © DY of jtdytravels; P1100565

Finally Captain Shaun brought the “Sea Lion” into our dock for the day and our DIBs were prepared for one of the afternoon’s excursion. While some chose to fly over the glaciers, others took a bike to explore the area. Others met with some of the old ‘sea salts’ of the town to learn more about life in this port. We chose the option of a walk and a plant hunt.

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View to afternoon walk site © JT of jtdytravels; P1130874

For this walk, we first had to cross the bay in the DIBs and then climb that hill on the other side. Our goal was to walk up through various areas of forest until we reached a muskeg bog up on the plateau.  We were promised that we would find some very interesting plants… and we did.

  More of that walk in the next post.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

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Tree hosting lichen and moss © DY of jtdytravels; P1100423

Up until this point on our walk with David in the forest at Ideal Cove, we’ve been looking down at small plants, mosses and fungi under the trees; but if we look up, we’ll see that many lichens and mosses have taken up residence on the branches.

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Beware of prickles! © DY of jtdytravels; P1100392

And while we’re looking up and out instead of down, it’s worth being very aware of the prickly plants in this forest. They don’t know not to grow over board walks!

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Streptopus amplexifolius © DY of jtdytravels; P1100429

Back down in the understory of the forest, David found this Streptopus amplexifolius, an unusual plant, commonly called Clasping Twisted Stalk. The base of each leaf surrounds or clasps the stem which kinks and twists after each leaf. The buds and bell shaped flowers hang down below the leaves at each leaf axil. They can only be seen by lifting the large leaves.

Another common name for this plant is Watermelon Berry, which refers to the water-melon coloured berries. Although the berries are very juicy, they are not very flavourful.

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Coptis asplenifolia © DY of jtdytravels; P1100431

Another interesting plant which grows on the forest floor is Coptis asplenifolia, commonly known as Fern-leaved Goldthread. Its a delicate, evergreen herb, with fern like leaves.  It grows from gold coloured roots; hence the common name. The photo shows the unusual seed head; a ring of up to twelve seed filled capsules on an upright stalk. Each time a capsule is hit by  a raindrop, a seed is ejected. Because these plants are slow colonizers, when found in a place like this, they signify that this is an old growth forest.

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Aster sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100432

This delicate pink aster was a surprise find in the depths of this forest.

It’s not a garden escapee! There’s not a garden for many miles. It belongs here.

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Fauria crista-galli © DY of jtdytravels; P1100434

Fauria crista-galli is commonly called Deer Cabbage. The flowers certainly look attractive but they have a very bad aroma; a pretty sure sign that they are pollinated by flies!

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Platenthera unalescensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100438

Platanthera unalescensis, is one of the Alaskan Rein Orchids. You need to be fairly observant to find this delicate plant with greenish flowers. It grows in dry to moist coniferous forests, so is happy in the area that we’ve been exploring with David.

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Linnaea borealis © Dy of jtdytravels; P1100440

The boardwalk crossed boggy, undrained land, known in Alaska as muskeg. It’s characterised by sphagnum moss vegetation and David found the very small  plant called Linnaea borealis growing in the mosses. Since the plant itself is less than 10cm tall and the drooping flowers are only 2-5 mm long, this was another case of needing to get down to ground level. By doing that, David was able to actually look into the flowers and show us that the bell is darker inside than out. It’s a shame that he couldn’t bring us back the smell of these flowers, too, as they produce a very fragrant perfume. All in all, a truly lovely plant.

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Linnaea borealis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100437

The plant is so lovely that it was said to be the favourite plant of Linnaeas, the Swedish botanist who became famous for introducing to science the system of using binomial Latin names. And so the generic name for the plant is Linnaea, in his honour.  The plant’s specific name is borealis, meaning northern. In Alaska the plant is found only north of Ketchikan.

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Linnaea borealis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100436

Twin Flower is the common name of Linnaea borealis and that’s very apt. Each upright flower stalk divides into a Y; and each branch of the Y bears a single, delicate, bell shaped flower. The stems themselves are rather hairy, slender, semi-woody. The plant is evergreen and spreads across an area from runners. Seed is also dispersed when the fruit, or dry nutlets, which have sticky hairs, catch onto the fur of animals and the feathers of birds.

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Lysichiton americanum © DY of jtdytravels; P1100444

Another plant very common in the wet, boggy muskeg is Lysichiton americanum. It’s common name of this plant with huge, rubbery leaves is Skunk Cabbage. The tiny flowers of this plant are arranged on a fleshy spike called a spathe. Deer enjoy eating these spathes and brown bears dig up the roots to eat. They don’t seem to be put off by the ‘skunky odour’!

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Carex lyngbyaei © DY of jtdytravels; P1100447a

Another very common plant is Carex lyngbyaei, Lyngby’s Sedge. They are grass-like but they are not grasses. The leaf base of a sedge forms a triangle in cross section while the the leaf base of a grass is round. The whole of this plant is rich in protein and is a very important source of food for bears, especially in spring before the berries fruit and the salmon run

Still no sighting of a bear today, though.

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Moneses uniflora © DY of jtdytravels; P1100448

Moneses uniflora is a member of the Wintergreen family and is also known by the name of Pyrola uniflora. It’s common name is Shy Maiden, coming from the greek derivation of its name monos, meaning one and hesia, meaning delight. And delightful it is. However, it’s a difficult flower to photograph as it grows low to the ground (only 3 – 17 cm tall) in the shade of the deep forest. This was yet another time that David needed to get down to ground level.

Another common name for this plant is Wax Flower because of the single white, waxy flower that grows from a rosette of roundish leaves. However, the common name that I most like for this demure flower is Shy Maiden, for obvious reasons!

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Menziesia ferruginea © DY of jtdytravels; P1100441

A much larger plant, a scraggy shrub, is Menziesia ferruginea often called Rusty Menziesia, from the species name, ferruginea which refers to the rusty salmon colour of the flowers.  But this common forest shrub is also known as Fool’s Huckleberry or False Azalea. It seems to be masquerading as something other than itself!  The urn shaped flowers are somewhat similar to the huckleberry flower in both colour and form, hanging down. But when this plant is in fruit, the flower stems turn up and the fruits are not delicious berries, but very dry inedible capsules.

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Rubus spectabilis © Dy of jtdytravels; P1100442

One plant that certainly did have edible fruit was the Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis. Found close to the edge of the forest, they made a tasty bight for weary walkers on the way back to the shore line. They certainly look inviting and taste something like raspberries.

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Fern © DY of jtdytravels; P1100397

Some forest plants are easy to overlook simply because they are common… like ferns. These plants form an important part of the understory especially at the edge of the forest. They maybe common… but are really rather lovely.

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Fungi © DY of jtdytravels; P1100451

Something else on the forest floor that many people walk past without so much as a glance is fungi. But how stunningly simple and beautiful are these; another down on the ground photo!

Forest walk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100457

End of the forest walk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100457

I’m sure there were more plants to find and photograph, but, as always happen in a group situation, someone calls ‘time’; time to go back to the ship.

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Fucus distichus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100462

But even as David left the depths of the forest and stepped back on the rocky shore, he found yet one more plant to share with us all, the Rock Weed, Fucus distichus. This brown alga grows in clumps or tufts from a basal ‘holdfast’ that anchors it to the rock. It lives in intertidal zones. When covered with water, this plant is erect, very stiff and cartilaginous. However, as shown here, when out of the water the fronds don’t stay erect but fall against the rocks.

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Ross Weinberg, Vidiographer © DY of jtdytravels; P1100466

Sitting amongst the Rock Weed, and also waiting to go back to the ship, and lunch, was our expedition’s professional videographer, Ross Weinberg. His task wast to prepare a video diary of the trip for everyone…. and he did an excellent job including places, people and some of the fun that we shared.  David often uses video but, on this trip, he chose photography to enable us all to share his plant hunting expeditions by means of this diary.

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‘Sea Lion’ awaits in the bay © DY of jtdytravels; P1100458

And so, the first walk of the expedition came to an end. It was time for lunch!

More anon

Jennie and David

All Photographs ©  David Young and Jennie Thomas of jtdytravels

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Twilight Cruise © DY of jtdytravels; P1100362

After a memorable day shared with whales and icebergs, Captain Shawn Nettles took the “Sea Lion” for a quiet after dinner twilight cruise into a narrow fiord. This was a wonderful way to unwind in the peace of the wilderness, shared only by a small fishing boat.

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Twilight © DY of jtdytravels; P1100365

The time; 9.15 pm. Summer twilight.

The ship’s lights came on and it was time to think about bed.

What adventures would the morrow bring?

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Frederick Sound © JT of jtdytravels; P1130763

We anchored overnight in a quiet cove and everyone, including all of the crew, had a really good night’s sleep.  So, we were all up bright and early, ready for whatever the day held. While we enjoyed our breakfast and a chat with new friends, “Sea Lion” cruised back up Frederick Sound, to a very special place named Ideal Cove for the first activity of the day, a walk in the forest.

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Unloading the DIBs © JT of jtdytravels; P1130631

There was only one way to get to the shore, and the forest, and that was by DIB. These inflatables were stored on the ship’s roof, right above our room. They had to be winched down each time we had a shore excursion. Our lady bosun, Nicky, was in charge of these boats and of the kayaks which would be used later in the expedition.

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Lee in DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130757

Lee Moll, was the first leader ready in a DIB to take walkers over to the shore.  Lee, was our expedition plant specialist and has been leading walks here for many years. She was especially helpful with her extensive knowledge of the area.

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Loading a DIB © JT of jtdytravels; P1130766

Loading a DIB was quite simple really, especially in these calm waters. The DIB was nosed into a loading ramp at the back of the ship, and one of the crew handed each passenger down into the craft. Before leaving the ship, we each had to ‘log off’ our name on a board (and, of course, remember to ‘log on’ when we came back to the ship!) David is already on board this DIB, in the shadow on the left. Jason, one of the expedition leaders, is his driver.

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Off to the forest of Ideal Cove! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130758

Ideal Cove it was named and ideal it was…

a blue sky, a warm day and a new activity; a forest to explore

and, for David, plants to find.

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Preparing for the walk © DY of jtdytraveks; P1100373

Once on shore, after a wet landing in boots, life jackets were left in a pile, cameras and binoculars were made ready and the walk began into the depths of the conifer forest.  So let’s go with David and experience the forest and its plants through his photos.

(Plants are named and notes added to the best of our knowledge.)

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Isothecium myosuroides  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100377

The very first thing you’ll notice as you enter the forest is that a great many of the conifers are festooned in a shaggy, cream coloured moss. Known commonly as Cat-tail Moss, it is indeed common. It’s botanical name is perhaps less well known: Isothecium myosuroides. 

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Toadstool © DY of jtdytravels; P1100381

In the dimness of the forest floor, fungi can often be found…

these elegant fungi are non edible toadstools.

Single file boardwalk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100383

Single file boardwalk © DY of jtdytravels; P1100383

A single file boardwalk protects this fragile environment.

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Cornus canadensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100391

Beside the path are low growing plants like this Cornus canadensis, known as Dwarf Dogwood or Bunchberry. The short stalked leaves are particularly lovely; 4 to 7 of them in a whorl.

Four petal-like white bracts protect the central umbel of flowers. Each flower has an explosive pollination mechanism. When the petals of mature but still unopened flowers suddenly reflex, they ‘catapult’ their pollen loads into the air.

The fruit of the Bunchberry are bright red berries, fleshy and quite sweet. Bears love them! And this was bear territory so the group needed to keep a good look out for bears on this walk.

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Toadstool cap © DY of jtdytravels; P1100412

Another delicate toadstool cap. You have to get down low to really see these…

and taking photos down to low is something that David does really well.

We can enjoy the results.

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Shelf Fungus © DY of jtdytravels; P1100398

This ‘shelf’ fungi, attached to a tree, was much more at eye level height.

Shelf or bracket fungi are resilient and may live for a very long time. They gain nourishment from the host tree and may in fact contribute to the death of that tree, feeding off the dead wood for years to come.

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Sphagnum squarrosum © DY of jtdytravels; P1100418

Many types of sphagnum moss can be found in these forests; this one, known as Shaggy Sphagnum, is Sphagnum squarrosum. The leaves, which are formed in dense, shaggy, rough rosettes, can absorb a great amount of water. Plants such as these are very common in the forests and were used by native Alaskan peoples as baby diapers (nappies) and bedding, by women for personal hygiene and also for the dressing of wounds.

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Vaccinium sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1100421

This berry is probably well known to most as a popular fruit for the table. However, the ones we eat are much sweeter and larger than these native blueberries, a Vaccinium sp. In David’s words, “ours have been horticulturally tinkered with to satisfy our sweet tooth palettes”. But the locals enjoy these native blueberries… and so do the bears.

Webbing on board walk ©  DY  of  jtdytravels;  P1100422

P1100422  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The boardwalk is covered with the netting used by purse seine fishermen to catch fish; an ingenious use of a ‘ready to hand’ product in this area. It’s use makes the usually wet boards safer for walkers. And speaking of walkers, where are they?

It looks as though David’s been so busy checking out the plants, that the rest of the group has gone ahead! Time to catch up. And time to finish this post and resume from here next time.

Jennie and David

All photographs ©  Jennie Thomas and David Young of jtdytravels

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One of our aims on this trip was to find and document as many flowering plants as we could. David is, after all, a horticulturist with “sap in his veins” and I’m enamoured of plants and flowers; what more motivation did we need!

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Nugget Falls © JT of jtdytravels; P1130474

So, now, let’s go plant hunting with David as he wanders towards Nugget Falls in the stunningly beautiful environment of Mendenhall Glacier. There’s not a lot of time for this exploration… time constraint is always a problem in the life of a plant hunter… but with David’s keen eye to find plants endemic to the area, there’s plenty to see and enjoy.

Plant names and notes are given to the best of our knowledge. Should you think otherwise, please let us know in the comment section below. I’ve also researched each plant that David photographed and have found interesting facts about each one to share with you.  

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Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130473

One fascinating part of plant hunting is to look out for the “succession factor”; in this case the way different plants take their turn in colonising the moraines left bare by a retreating glacier. We look down at a green swathe now, but that has taken maybe a hundred or more years to become established to this point in its evolution. I’ve added David’s photos in a way that will, hopefully, explain how the plant colonisation has happened here in Mendenhall.

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Salix sitchensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100188

The first pioneer plants here are usually the ones whose seeds arrive on the wind, like the spores of mosses; plants that help to bind the rubble into mats onto which other seeds can find a place to grow. Like moss spores, the fluffy seeds of willows such as Salix sitchensis, or Sitka Willow, are so light, they travel on the breeze for some distance, even many kilometres. However, the tiny Salix seed has to find a suitable place to germinate very quickly because it only retains viability for about 24 hours. Undoubtedly, many of the abundant seeds produced by a Salix plant will fall on inhospitable surfaces and die. Those that live are true pioneers.

These willows can survive harsh environments without much nutrient. They reproduce quickly and abundantly but, as early colonisers, they are often stunted in growth and short lived. On their death, their decaying matter provides some nutrients for the next group of colonising plants which naturalists sometimes call “the homesteaders”.

Sitka Alder © DY of jtdytravels; P1100190

Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100190

These are the developing cones of Alnus crispa sp.sinuata, known as Sitka Alder, one of the dominant “homesteaders”. They are the first plants to really thrive in recently deglaciated terrain in Alaska and are important because their leaf litter adds nitrogen to the soil (in much the same way as clovers and legumes). With that enrichment of the soil, plants such as willows and cottonwoods have a much better chance of thriving.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100192

Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100192

Mature cones of Sitka Alder, Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata may hang on the trees for long after their seeds are dispersed. Such cones are sometimes electroplated with gold and sold in the gift shops as jewellery. (They might have made the perfect souveneir for our Christmas tree but we didn’t see any for sale and in any case we can’t bring wood products into Australia.)

Boschniakia rossica Northern Groundcone © DY of jtdytravels; P1100193

Boschniakia rossica  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100193

The Alders play host to this unusual plant, Boschniakia rossica, commonly called Northern Groundcone, which looks very much like a bunch of pine cones stuck in the ground. It grows in the dense shade under Alder thickets where not much else can grow. It needs no light as it produces no chlorophyl. It is, in fact, a parasitic herb which lives on the roots of the Alder. What look like cone scales are really brownish, two lipped flowers. Grizzly bears like to feast on these thick fleshy plants… but none were around on this day, fortunately!

The plant is named after a Russian botanist, A.K. Boschniak. That’s not surprising since the Russians had a base in nearby Sitka from 1799 until 1867… the latter being the year that Alaska was purchased from Russia by the USA. 

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Lupinus nootkatensis © JY of jtdytravels; P1130481

A plant that is also important in the plant colonisation process here in Alaska is Lupinus nootkatensis, the delightful Alaskan Lupin, or Nootka Lupin, seen growing here in a bed of moss.  Lupins also add much needed nitrogen to the soil, enriching the environment for other plants to survive and thrive. Grizzly bears like to feast on the Lupin roots.

Lupinus nootkatensis is one of the Lupin species from which garden hybrids are derived. It was introduced into Europe in the 18th Century and now grows like a weed in northern Europe, festooning banks with colour in summer. In Iceland, it was introduced to try to stabilise soil, but, it has done so well there, that it’s now endangering native Icelandic plants.

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Pyrola asarifolia  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100177

Another plant commonly found with the Alders are Wintergreens. This one, Pyrola asarifolia, or Pink Wintergreenis the largest of the Wintergreens in the Alaskan coastal forests. There may be 8 to 25  delightful bell or cup shaped flowers along a tall stem. These flowers seem to hang their heads demurely. Perhaps they are not sure what we might think of their secret! For these delicate flowers belong to a plant that is scientifically known as a semisaprophytic plant; it can make its own chlorophyl (hence the semi) but it lives mainly on dead plant and animal material. Saprophytic plants like these require the assistance of fungi to help breakdown the organic material. It’s a delightful but unusual plant!

Pyrola has been used in native medicine as a poultice for sores or swellings.

Lycopodium selago Fir Clubmoss © DY of jtdytravels; P1100203

Lycopodium selago © DY of jtdytravels; P1100203

Another plant used by the native peoples for medicinal purposes is the low growing Lycopodium selago, commonly called Fir Clubmoss or Mountain Clubmoss. It was used as a purgative, a “strong medicine”. It’s also reported to contain a chemical that may be effective against Alzeimer’s Disease. It seems that we still have so much to learn from plants!

Another interesting fact about club mosses is that their spore powder, known as “vegetable sulphur”, is very flammable and has been used to make fireworks and was even used in early flash photography.

The Club moss above is growing in amongst some other mosses. In general, however, many of the mosses and lichens don’t do very well in the leaf litter in the deep shade of Alders. They prefer to grow on the branches as epiphytes where they find some light.

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Emerging conifer forest © JT of jtdytravels; P1130453

The next stage in the colonisation process is the growth of conifers, especially Spruce and Hemlock. In this photo, Alders are in the lower right corner, while conifers have displaced them on the lakeside bank.  Young conifers may take 100 to 400 years before the Spruce and Hemlock forest, which is endemic to this area, becomes fully established.

Our time at Mendenhall was flying but we still just had time to visit the excellent “Discovery Centre”and take in the documentary made about this glacial area. The interpretative section of the centre was also very well done; I could have spent hours there. However, our time was almost up; the bus awaited our return.

As we walked back down towards the bus, the bank beside the footpath provided us with yet another opportunity to photograph flowers!  

Holodiscus sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1130485

Aruncus dioicus © JT of jtdytravels; P1130485

This lovely plant is Aruncus dioicus (common name bride’s feathers).  It was growing on a moss covered bank of rocks which made a delightful back drop to my photo. It’s a hardy plant; there wasn’t much soil on this steep rocky bank.

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Holodiscus discolor and Ranunculus repens © DY of jtdytravels P1100205

Holodiscus discolor (Oceanspray) was growing on recently disturbed soil amongst a delightful swathe of Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens. Note the reddish stems of the Oceanspray.  Another common name for this plant is ‘ironwood’, because of the hardness of those woody stems. Native peoples made these stems even harder by heating them over a fire before using them to make digging sticks, small spears, harpoon shafts, and arrows. Some native groups even used the stems for salmon barbequing sticks.They have also been made into knitting needles. Before the advent of nails, pegs made from the stems were used in construction projects.

As a medicine, some groups made an infusion of the brownish fruiting clusters to help stop diarrhoea. The infusion was also used as a blood tonic and to counteract measles and chickenpox.  Indeed, a particularly useful plant.

Epilobium latifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100211

Chamerion angustifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100211

On the same bank David found this very common roadside plant, a member of the Evening Primrose family, Chamerion angustifolium, formerly known as Epilobium angustifolium. It is known by the names of Tall Fireweed, Great Willowherb or Rosebay Willowherb. Is it any wonder we need the Latin names for plants; so many common names for one plant.

Unlike other types of Fireweed, this one has unbranched erect stems. The buds grow on tall red stemmed spikes. They burst into flower from the lowest buds first. Again, this plant looks delightful against a background of golden moss.

Locals in Alaska make a syrup from Fireweed and they also enjoy Fireweed honey. What they also know is that when Fireweed stops flowering, winter is upon them!

Yellow Daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130484

Yellow Daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130484

It always amazes to me that, almost anywhere you go in this world, at least one member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, will find a place to make it’s sunny presence felt. This is not a planted garden; it’s a natural bank of plants. They are always a welcome sight to me.

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Bank of white daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130488

And just before I climbed on board the bus after a most enjoyable afternoon, I stopped to admire a bank of white daisies; how appropriate near a glacier!

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Fly pollinating white daisy © JT of jtdytravels; P1130456

And, of course, I couldn’t resist a closer look! Simple, very common and yet…

so stunningly beautiful.

Our plant hunting in Mendenhall might be over but there is plenty more to come!

It’s now time to get ready to board our home for the next week,

the small, but good ship, “Sea Lion”

Jennie and David

Thought for today:

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed

and to have my senses put into tune once more.

John Burrough (1837 – 1921)

American Naturalist

More of our travel posts can be found on

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For the keen walker, there are walks in abundance from the village of Iluka.  The walk beside Iluka Bay is the gentlest.  But there are walks along the beaches facing the Pacific Ocean and even more through a rainforest and through Bundjalong National Park.

P1240948  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240948 © JT of jtdytravels

The main road from the Pacific Highway into Iluka goes through the Bundjalung  National Park.  Side roads lead off into the forest and to the bluffs and beaches of the Pacific Ocean. The roads are unsealed but in good condition and the drive through tunnels of trees is a peaceful start to a day out in the bush.

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P1240877  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240877 © JT of jtdytravels

The best known, and very well set up bush parking area is at Iluka Bluff.  Leaving the car here, you can choose to enjoy a walk or a rest on the beach, pick your way across the rocks at the headland, climb up to the bluff or walk in the forest; or do all of the above.

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P1240879  ©  JT  f jtdytravels

P1240879 © JT f jtdytravels

My first choice was the beach – not to swim or laze in the sun but to walk.

When I was there, this beach was not patrolled, so care is needed if swimming.

One part of this beach is called Shark Bay – enough said!

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P1240885  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240885 © JT of jtdytravels

I shared this long beautiful stretch of coast with just two other people.

With a gentle sea on one side

and a forest alive with native birds on the other

it was a most pleasant walk.

There would no doubt be many more people enjoying this beach in summer.

P1240881  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240881 © JT of jtdytravels

However, this is not a bare foot beach.  It’s made up of small shells so …

a good pair of walking shoes was essential.

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P1240896  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240896 © JT of jtdytravels

Coming back from my beach walk, I began to explore the rocky headland.

It was the resting place that morning for hundreds of birds, most of them small terns.

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P1240893  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240893 © JT of jtdytravels

Amongst them were Cormorants and, of course, sea gulls.

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P1240902  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240902 © JT of jtdytravels

My favourite bird of the morning was this Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus).  I had taken a short bush walk to get further out on the rocks below the bluff.  I found this magnificent bird sitting on a rock shelf quietly finishing off a feed of fish.  T’was a magic moment.

Brahminy Kites feed exclusively on fish and other marine animals.  I have read that they often scavenge for dead fish floating on the surface rather than catching live fish.  Once this bird had finished its meal, I enjoyed watching it soar high over the rock platform.

Iluka is almost to the southern edge of the Brahminy Kite’s range.  They occur only in warmer coastal areas and on offshore islands; in the eastern states they may occur from Port Macquarie north and, in Western Australia, they can be seen north of Carnarvon.  We saw them in the tidal rivers of the Kimberleys when we were there a few years ago.

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P1240910  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240910 © JT of jtdytravels

There are good paths through the seaside scrub which seems to be alive with birds.

Most are impossible to photograph as they flit through the trees.

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P1240912  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240912 © JT of jtdytravels

Some are much more used to human company. This magpie joined me on my walk.

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P1240913  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240913 © JT of jtdytravels

A Masked Lapwing was a little more wary as he trotted across a more open area of park.

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P1240939  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240939 © JT of jtdytravels

The common Australian native tree, the Paper Bark, Melaleuca sp., abounds in this park.

Birds love them and some artists like to use the papery bark in their creations.

However, collecting this bark in a National Park is not permitted.

Take only photos, leave only footprints – that’s the rule.

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P1240947  ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels

P1240947 © Jt of jtdytravels

Day visitors are well catered for with plenty of tables in shady places for picnics.

There are also eco friendly long drop, composting toilets near the car park.

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P1240938  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240938 © JT of jtdytravels

A shaded, raised information area also has a picnic table and tank water.

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P1240935  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240935 © JT of jtdytravels

From the information platform, a steep set of steps leads up towards the top of the bluff.

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P1240922  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240922 © JT of jtdytravels

From the top of the steps, a steepish gravelled path with steps leads further upwards.

A more gentle board walk path then leads on through the bush.

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P1240921  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240921 © JT of jtdytravels

There are some interesting trees to look at along the way.

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P1240934  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

P1240934 © JT of jtdytravels

A volunteer landcare group has been busy cleaning out weeds in this area.

They’ve also planted several more native trees and bushes.

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P1240924  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240924 © JT of jtdytravels

Finally, the look out comes into view.

And the view from the top is well worth the climb.

This is a great place to watch for whales on their migration route.

Looking south is the breakwater lined mouth of the Clarence River.

Yamba can be seen on the hill beyond.

Iluka is further back to the right behind another long, sandy beach.

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P1240927  ©  JT  of jtdytravels

P1240927 © JT of jtdytravels

The sound and sight of waves folding over rocks below is something I always enjoy.

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P1240926  ©  Jt  of jtdytravels

P1240926 © Jt of jtdytravels

There were many more walks I could have taken in this National Park,

but I was happy to take a rest here

and enjoy the solitude and the beauty of the sea scape.

The other walks will have to wait until I return some other time!

Jennie

Photography  © Copyright  JT  of  jtdytravels

More travel stories and photos of our overseas adventures can be found on

http://www.jtdytravels.com

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