Human Flower Project
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Basalt Daisy—Rock On!
A case of extreme botany, Erigeron basalticus is now in bloom, though you’ll have to brave rattlesnakes to see it.
Lavender basalt daisy (Erigeron basalticus)
blooming in the Selah Cliff preserve
Photo: Gilbert W. Arias, for Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Not everyone’s cut out for this: hanging in a crack on the face of a cliff. But for some reason Erigeron basalticus, a.k.a. the lavender basalt daisy, likes nothing better. Thanks to Gordy Holt of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for alerting the rest of us to this rugged wildflower. The basalt daisy is endemic to a 10 by 2 mile spot in central Washington; according to the botanical experts, it’s known to grow only in this microclimate, in the basalt walls of the Selah Creek and Yakima River canyons.
Gordy describes his expeditions to track the rock-dwelling daisy. “We found them blooming on only our second trip,” he writes, “but blooming they were late last week and should continue well into June.”
Christian climbs Railway Avenue’s Never the Twain
in the Field Valley, Canada
Photo: Nicola Pelletier, via Field, British Columbia
This rare flower has, of course, been of interest to plant conservationists and hikers. It was also written up in a recent environmental impact study, as Bonneville Power Administration planned to stretch transmission lines through its habitat. (Anyone know how that controversy was resolved?)
It always strikes us as paradoxical, that plants rugged as these can be so vulnerable, too. Not so different, perhaps from the tough human rock climbers, likewise in peril.
If you’re far from the Yakima canyon, there’s information about the Basalt Daisy and other Washington wildlife available from the Washington Natural Heritage Program. And even if you’re there, looking up at the canyon walls, you may not detect the plant’s stiff, spreading hairs (the better to clutch with!).
Visitors to the canyons are urged to bring water and binoculars and “stay on the trail,” Gordy advises. “For those who don’t, there will be rattlesnakes to enforce the rule.”