Canada Goldenrod – Solidago canadensis – is found in Boundary Bay marshes.

Celebrating Delta: Our home and native plants

Heritage plants can be looked for in habitats that have survived urbanization, such as the sand dunes in Boundary Bay Regional Park.

The common dandelion followed the footsteps, cart wheels and train tracks of settlers and made itself at home across North America.

Every one of its seeds is equipped with a little parachute that wafts it into the air at the slightest breath of wind, carrying it down the road.

Its roots dig deep and new ones sprout readily when the taproot is cut.

Edible and nutritious, the resourceful dandelion is seldom featured on modern menus.

It is only one of hundreds of non-native flowering plants that were introduced into the Lower Mainland, intentionally or accidentally, over the last 150 years.

Anne MurraySuch invasives now dominate the landscape, squeezing out the many beautiful native plants that once graced local forests, prairies and wetlands. Local species that survive should be cherished as heritage plants.

Heritage plants can be looked for in habitats that have survived urbanization, such as the sand dunes in Boundary Bay Regional Park. Here, tiny blue-eyed Mary can be found in spring, mingling with pink thrift and spiky big-headed sedges.

As summer progresses, fragrant stalks of bare stem lomatium, topped with umbrellas of tiny flowers, emerge in the same habitat.

This wild celery is a traditional flavouring and mosquito repellant.

The glorious yellows of gumweed and Canada goldenrod, and the purple of fireweed and Douglas’ aster brighten the Boundary Bay marshes.

Some local forests still have heritage plants like trillium, wild red currant, and Oregon grape, but the flowers of the Fraser delta’s prairie grasslands are gone.

These were the showiest blooms: blue camas and larkspur, pink fawn lilies, chocolate lilies and Hooker’s onion. They grow sparsely on the Gulf Islands and southern Vancouver Island.

Harvesting may have been a component of maintaining viable plant populations. Camas bulbs were highly valued as food by the First Nations and plots were regularly weeded.

The tall stems with their sky blue blossoms die back after flowering, so the presence of bulbs is only known to those who tend them.

Many herbal plants, berries and tea leaves were collected in Burns Bog and Richmond bogs by Coast Salish people and those who learned from them. Local bogs still have heritage plants, including native blueberries, the carnivorous sundew, and those delicate beauties, the bog cranberry and cloudberry. Choose BC native plants for your garden to provide food and habitat for wildlife and avoid invasive non-native species.

Anne Murray’s books on Delta’s natural and ecological history, A Nature Guide to Boundary Bay and Tracing Our Past, a Heritage Guide to Boundary Bay, are available in local stores or from www.natureguidesbc.com. She blogs at www.natureguidesbc.wordpress.com

 

Just Posted

Heritage Surrey launches time-lapse mapping tool

It matches local historical images to modern-day locations

UPDATE: Delta man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help finding missing 52-year-old

Police say William Michaels last seen on Feb. 19

Private school for hockey players pitched for Surrey’s Excellent Ice arena

Lark Group draws up expansion plan for facility built and operated by the Surrey company since 1999

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read