Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Wild Success - The Capitol Lake Interpretive Center, Part 2 - Plants

Text and photos by Nancy Partlow©
All photos taken at the Capitol Lake Interpretive Center unless otherwise noted
The Capitol Lake Interpretive Center is a verdant refuge for wildlife.  Its extensive palette of native trees and shrubs provide a bounty of food and shelter for many creatures. 

Native plants create healthy ecosystems.  Indigenous insects have evolved to eat plant leaves of a certain chemical composition – namely, those provided by endemic flora.  In other words, local insects have evolved to eat local plants.
By definition, native insects have shared little or no evolutionary history with alien plants…, and they thus are not likely to possess the adaptations required for using these plants as nutritional hosts. Consequently, the solar energy harnessed by alien plants is believed to be largely unavailable to native insect(s)…- at least until they evolve the behaviors and physiology necessary to eat them – and therefore unavailable to all animals that include these insects in their diets.

From Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy
In addition to their chemically-compatible leaves, native plants offer up a wide buffet of flowers, fruits and seeds throughout the year.  Their branches host bark-dwelling insects, and their leafy ground detritus hides countless worms, grubs and other critters that birds and small mammals love to scavenge and eat. 
For human users of the CLIC, native plants bestow a subtle beauty to the eye, and the opportunity to observe animals “at home” in their natural setting. 
Here are photos of some native plant species growing at the CLIC:
Holodiscus discolor - Ocean Spray
Lonicera involucrata - Twinberry
Spiraea douglasii - Spirea

Sambucus racemosa - Red elderberry
Rosa nutkana - Nootka rose
Philadelphus lewisii - Mock Orange
Mahonia aquifolium - Tall Oregon grape
Physocarpus capitatus - Pacific ninebark

Salix sitchensis - Sitka willow

Cornus sericea - Red-osier dogwood
Rubus parviflorus - Thimbleberry
Rubus spectabilis - Salmonberry


Native plant species installed at the CLIC in 2004:

Red Elderberry



Oregon Grape
Nootka Rose
Redosier Dogwood
Red Flowering Currant
Mock Orange
Vine Maple
Western Red Cedar
Ocean Spray
Beaked Hazelnut
Indian Plum
Western Crabapple
Western Hemlock
Sitka Willow
Black Hawthorn
Black Cottonwood
Sitka Spruce
Bigleaf Maple
Additional natives that were already there: 
Paper Birch

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