.A Look at Fungi

A walk in the woods gives us a look through natures window at a multitude of wondrous plants. There is the huge array of the different fungi and the greens of the mosses. We also have the opportunity to see the more secretive lichens.  Besides these plants there are a great number of wildflowers that contribute to this wonderful habitat. Fortunately, nature once again showed us the diversity it commands by allowing us to see these pleasures at different times of the year, thus making our woodland walks exciting for a much longer season.

Besides the fungi that shows us some unusual shapes, we have some very unusual flowers also. Although they do not look like the garden variety, they do have some amazing colors and designs.  They are leafless and are also parasites living on other plants and taking their nutrients from their host.


There are many of these parasitic plants and they have a variety of different hosts from flowers to trees.


This Candy cane plant on the left, Allotropa virgata, is dependant on the fungus Matsutake mycelia and this fungus attaches itself to the roots of trees. The tree and  fungus then form a symbiotic relationship. This fungus must be present if the candy cane plant is there. It is rare to find mushrooms in the area surrounding Allotropa. The centre image is that of Pinedrops,
Pterospora andromedea, also using a fungus as a host. Pinesap, Monotropa hypopithys on the right, in summer tends to be yellow while those that bloom in autumn are reddish. Like its relative Indian pipe, it has no chlorophyll.


A contrast between the two pinesap colors, the reddish color on the left and the yellow flowers in the other image.

This image of a group of Indian pipe flowers shows the lack of chlorophyll. This making it impossible for it to obtain energy from sunlight, leaving it to get nutrients from the organic matter in the soil.




Although this Calypso orchid, Calypso bulbosa, resembles a flower that we are more accustomed to, it is still dependant on fungi found in the soils of the forest floor. Known also be the names, Fairy slipper and Venus's slipper, it is the only species in this genus Calypso. This is from the Greek meaning concealment as they favor the conifer forest floor.



Then, as we have these flowers imitating the parasitic plants, we also have those that are highly poisonous as a number of fungi are.  These two shown here are amongst the most poisonous, Baneberry, Actaea ruba, on the left and Green False Hellebore, Veratrum viride.

Many ground covering plants enjoy the shade of the trees and show this with a multitude of flowers, one that takes this opportunity is the Dwarf Dogwood, also known as Bunchberry with the Latin name of Cornus canadensis.   


There are numerous species of violets that appear early in the springtime. Viola Adunca is a beautiful dark blue. Streambank Violet in the centre grows profusely and covers large areas. The third violet, the Yellow Montane Violet, Viola praemorsa, is not so common and is usually associated with the forests at higher elevations.  This violet is listed as imperiled in British Columbia and threatened nationally.


The early flowers quickly brighten up the forests floor and one of the earliest of these is the Satin Flower, Sisyrinchium douglasii. While the one on the right is one of the Shooting Stars, Dodecatheon hendersonii. Both of these plants like the open areas and the rocky terrain. 

One of our prettiest native plants is the twinflower, Linnaea borealis. A creeping broad leaf evergreen that only grows to 6 inches tall. As the name suggests it carries two flowers on each stem.


One of the harder flowers to locate is Wild Ginger, it hides under its leaves and as it is therefore difficult for flying insects to pollinate, its left for beetles to handle the job.

 There are three plants protected by law, one is a tree, the flowering Dogwood,
 one is a shrub, the Pacific Rhododendron, and the other is the Western Trillium.
This trillium can take up to 17 years to flower.  Our other featured flower is the
 Easter Lily, Erythronium oregonum.



One of the weedy plants that one may come across is the creeping buttercup, Ranunculus repens. The identifying mark of this flower is in the leaves as they bare light colored blotches that are shown here.



One of the higher elevation plants is Lyallii anemone, with the cute common name of Little Mountain Thimbleweed.  This rather rare anemone has very small flowers and often goes unnoticed. This is in contrast to the image on the right, Northern Bedstraw, Gallium boreale which clings to you as you walk past it.



One of the prettiest, although rather small is Bronze Bells, another plant that manages quite well at some of the higher elevations .