Apologetically, not Marine Biology

I really was planning on writing this post about something relevant to our quarter.  I promise.  However, as many from this quarter can already attest, I am a one trick pony; what really interested me from our field trip was this:

<i>Rosa nutkana</i> -- Nootka Rose

Rosa nutkana -- Nootka Rose

Nootka rose is quite common almost everywhere on the west coast from northern California to Alaska, so you’ve probably all seen it before.  It is commonly 2-4 feet tall, but some varieties can grow up to 13 feet.  This, combined with its ability to spread rapidly and deadly thorns, makes me wonder if it could possibly take over the world.   I had only ever seen it in mountainous areas and forest clearings, so finding it next to the boat dock on Sucia was news to me.   I had to look it up before I was able to identify it positively, but apparently there are some varieties of R. nutkana that form thickets near the coast.  Never having studied marine and coastal environments again rears its ugly head.

FYI, Nootka rosehips, which are fairly large (>1/2″) apparently have the useful ability to cure bad breath.  They are characteristically rich in vitamin C (1/4 cup of rosehips has as much vitamin C as a dozen oranges).  They persist throughout winter, actually tasting better after the frosts have softened them.  And, apparently, chew the leaves and put them on bee stings to relieve pain (I’m not sure if I buy that…).

What’s actually interesting about this rose is none of the stuff I’ve already mentioned (which was painful to read, I know), but the fact that I was able to get this picture in early October.  I thought I was just getting things wrong, but the USDA Plants database backs me up here: Nootka rose, like its ornamental cousins, blooms in late spring.  Why does this plant have such different phenology than all of its neighbors, which were full of beautiful rosehips?  Maybe it’s a common variation in coastal environments, but I’ve never seen that before…

Right, I feel satisfied now–I’ve given you all your daily dose of terrestrial botany.  I’m sure there’s more to come…

-Sarah Ellison

P.S.  Thought I’d share some other photos from this most awesomeway to start the quarter.

Pema, Christie, and Mike bringing us in for a safe landing

Pema, Christie, and Mike bringing us in for a safe landing

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