Monday, May 5, 2014


Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), blooming in the prairie this afternoon

In 1995 or 1996 (not exactly sure...), in the aftermath of a fire that went through half of my property, I made my first effort at planting native plants on a large scale.  One thing I did was plant a few plugs of Arrowleaf balsamroot, a common native plant in Eastern Washington.  Planting them is a delicate operation.  They have a long taproot that cannot be disturbed and so these little two-leaf sprouts would have a nine-inch conical plastic tube out the bottom that I had to cut away and gently fluff the hairy roots around the taproot and lay it gently in the hole.  Of the first five I tried, two lived, and both of those were chomped by the deer.  That's it--they were Spring of 2004, one of them--the one in the image above--put up a tiny leaf, or maybe one of the hundreds of seeds I spread around sprouted, or who knows.  For the next several years, two or three leaves would come up in this spot in the Spring, and then in the last few years there were quite a few leaves, but no blooms.  Suddenly this year, it bloomed!

So, twenty years from a sprout to flowers.  I now realize that the automobile-sized clumps you can see in the last remaining bits of prairie in Eastern Washington must be 200 years old!    

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