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.