This is Part II of a series of posts about a two-hour wildflower walk/talk with Larry Yox, a resident here at Lost Valley Community in Oregon. If you missed Part I, you can find it HERE.
Larry Yox Wildflower Tour Guide
Continuing our walk through the meadow, on our way to the Creek Trail, Larry began to speak about the blue camas flowers that were spreading across the meadow in abundance. Camus is a kind of lily whose bulbs were a main staple of the indigenous peoples’ diet. They would dry the excess bulbs to use in winter. The camas were used like we use onions and additionally, for medicine.We refrain from picking them, so that they can propagate themselves in their natural manner.
A Field of Camas Was Sometimes Mistaken for a Lake by Pioneers (This is not our Meadow — Click image for photo credit.)
One hundred years ago entire meadows would be filled with blue camas flowers, giving pioneer settlers the impression that they were seeing a lake. Larry said he has seen our own meadow appear that way at times. Larry also told me that the western buttercups and the blue camas do a kind of “pas de deux” at this time of year, making a beautiful yellow and blue carpet across the meadow. Two weeks after he told me this, I witnessed that exact image, as I gazed out across the meadow while my sister was visiting. She was taking photos right and left, enchanted by the blue and yellow carpet of wildflowers. Continue reading
Larry Yox, Resident Wildflower Aficionado
Larry Yox is one of our longer term Members here at Lost Valley Community. He has a passion for many things but if you want to see his entire body light up — instantly — ask him a question about a wildflower. Any ole question will do. Be prepared to hear a college-level teaching lesson on the general subject, because once you get Larry started, his mind and knowledge just go on a tour of Wildflower World, whether or not you are actually looking at the subject in question. Larry has the flowers distinctly in his mind’s eye, so he is “seeing” everything he is talking about. And if you are willing, you can begin to see them too.
Bottom line: Larry Yox is a walking encyclopedia of botanical information. More specifically, he embodies an immense amount of information about the wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. Even more specifically, he has the keenest interest in the flowers that appear each year on our 87 acres of woodland forest and Savannah meadows. He is a living library on this topic.
The last week of April, I asked Larry to take me on a tour and talk to me on his favorite topic. He was delighted! We had only walked about 50 feet down the road toward the meadow and already, Larry began to speak about the plants along the way. These were not exactly wildflowers but they were plants that had beauty and value as herbal remedies. One plant in particular he pointed out, because of his early childhood memories associated with his father’s intense dislike for the plant. Larry had grown up maligning teasel, because his father had only negative things to say about it. Much later, Larry began to experience the beauty of this plant in its flowering and reproductive phases. He heard herbalists speak of the value of the plant as a “beneficial.” In addition to having its own healing properties, teasel helps the plants around it to be more healthy. Larry gained a new appreciation for this plant and he couldn’t help but pass that story of his change of mind and heart along to me.
So my first “wildflower” on the tour was not a wildflower at all but a majestic plant with six-foot tall spires that before they die, sport beautiful purple flowers, much like a thistle, although they are not thistles. The plants have a two-year cycle. The stalk appears in the second year. The leaves at the base of these dead stalks are second-year growth. The first year occurs out of sight, underground. I was fascinated; I’d marveled at these plants for a decade and never had any information about them.
Teasel — Dead Stalks Complete Two-Year Cycle. These are Sometimes Sprayed Gold or Silver and Used in Dried Floral Arrangements
Second Year Teasel. The Plant has Been Growing Underground for a Year before the Leaves Appear. It Will Grow Stalks This Year.