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Fetid Surprise

Fetid Surprise

The leaves of Fetid Adder’s Tongue, Scoliopus bigelovii, pop out like a beacon below the shaded cover of redwood forest canopy.  Just last week, I was strolling along the trails of Muir Woods, minding my own business, when I could practically hear it’s whispered shouting, “Hey, I’m over here…!  Look at me!”  A poignant, botanical moment.  Especially when, upon closer examination, I realized there was a flower there too.  Winter blooming, fungal gnat loving and “fetid” for a reason.  Specialized, showy and stinky in just the right way, attracting its evolutionary partner and pollinator.

S. bigelovii is found only in the coast ranges of California, with maybe a small population in Southern Oregon, preferring the dimly lit redwood forest floor.  To find it is like finding a treasure.  A wildflower of unique architecture in, what seems to be, the depths of winter.  Providing a charming element of surprise and an illuminating spark for the garden, the best always coming from nature.

To learn more about Fetid Adder’s Tongue read the Left Coast Naturalist.


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