Although it is hard to resist looking up at the tall trees as we walk in the forest, sometimes it is interesting to watch the ground. (Sometimes it is safer, as we often stumble over roots or fallen branches in the path.) Many small plants are to be found along the edges of the path, and most certainly we will find tree cones (like most other people, we call them pine cones but they often aren’t from pines). I’m fascinated by these seed pods of the conifers, and love to identify the trees around us based on the cones on the ground.
Above we have the little cones, or catkins, of the alder tree, which isn’t even a conifer but is always plentiful in our more northern forests along waterways. Next we have the cone of the Douglas Fir. Most island children (and I’m guessing west coast children) have been taught a version of the first nations story of the mouse and the cone – there are many variations but all end with the mouse stuck in the cone! The last one I’m not as confident on, but am fairly certain that it comes from a Sitka Spruce, another conifer native to Vancouver Island and commonly found with Western Hemlock and along river and shore (where these cones were found).
I love that our surroundings provide constant interest and learning opportunities – lifelong learning is a delight of mine and a lesson for Bushboy that I think is very valuable.