Yew Lake Area – Botany Walk with Friends Of Cypress Provincial Park

Yew Lake Area – Botany Walk with Friends Of Cypress Provincial Park

Leaders: Eva Nagy and Anne George

Trip report by Eva Nagy

On 13th July 2019, we arrived at Cypress Bowl at 10 am to find a large crowd of hikers. On this popular day, the ski area management decided to do some earth moving job to repair the ski slopes. A huge pile of dirt occupied a large part of the parking lot. Some driving lanes were set aside for the earthmoving equipment, thereby cutting down considerably on the parking spaces available closer to the trailhead.

Happy to report, that in spite of the difficulties to find a parking spot all the registered participants made it to the meeting place in good time.  Started out as a cloudy day but soon the clouds lifted and we had a very pleasant day. After a short introduction to the area, and about Friends of Cypress Provincial Park, our group of 15 started walking. I was rather disappointed to see that most of the flowers had finished blooming. It was more like our walks at the end of July used to be. With the heat and sunshine in June, most of the plants started to flower earlier, making our “Plants in bloom” lists from the past obsolete.

Naturally, there is still plenty to talk about at this elevation (925 meters), where we are in a transition zone between the Western Hemlock/Douglas Fir zone and the Mountain Hemlock zone. This is a good place to study plants from both zones. The group was attentive, several people took notes and asked lots of good questions. There were still a good number of flowers on the white rhododendrons (Rhododendron albiflorum)and on the Copper bush (Elliottia pyroliflora), Ericaceae (Crowberry family) interspersed with the copper coloured bells of False Azalea, (Menziesia ferruginea).

The pink flowers of Subalpine Spiraea, (Spiraea densiflora) were abundant, along with clusters of tiny white flowers of Sticky false asphodel (Triantha glutinosa)  at mostly wet sites. The flowers of Spiraea x hitchcockii (the only known specimen in the Vancouver area) were just starting to open. 

At the lunch stop we were entertained by a group of Grey Jays eating from our hands, and a family of Downy Woodpeckers was on a nearby tree. The young one stayed almost in one spot while the parents, always staying nearby, were moving up and down – perhaps trying to induce the young one to start moving with them….

Later, in the Old Growth Forest, to our delight we found more Menzies’ Pipsissewa (Chimaphilla menziesii), than last year. There were at least 5 flowering plants and lots more little ones. The Small twisted stalk (Streptopus streptopoides) was also flowering, although very difficult to see so close to the ground.

The old growth area was covered with a carpet of very healthy Pipecleaner moss (Rhytidiopsis robusta), and the Pacific coralroot, (Corallorhiza mertensiana) was also very showy. This plant is a hyper parasite: parasitic on the mycorrhizal fungi that is in turn parasitic on hemlock and fir roots. There were also a few good spots of brilliant yellow slime-mold that fascinated many. Back on the Yew Lake trail on our return we saw an unusually big patch of lovely One-sided Wintergreen (Pyrola secunda), and several good patches of the Fern-leaved Goldthread (Coptis aspleniifolia) with showy seed heads. 

We arrived back at the parking area around 2 pm. Judging by the happy faces, most participants enjoyed the outing. The fact that five participants took out membership with FCPP and one renewed membership with NV, proves the importance of organising these fieldtrips.

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