Erythronium revolutum

From Earth Day to Earth Month

We are capable of making our governments realize how important our environment and planet are to our continued existence

Earth Hour, Earth Day, Earth Week, Earth Month.

It is heartening to see the growth in environmental awareness through the events honouring these momentous titles. What started with twenty million people on April 22, 1970 as a teach-in at numerous American schools and universities to raise awareness of environmental concerns has expanded to 192 countries and well over a billion people in 2013.

Even more spectacular is the fact this growing global movement transcends race, religion and social status. Participants from diverse backgrounds are united and focussed on saving our planet. No other event in the world accomplishes this phenomenon.

And so we should stand together. Through sheer numbers, we are capable of making our governments realize how important our environment and planet are to our continued existence. This is what generates change.

We need change. Just think about our province without its forests. They are one of the ecosystems that sets us apart. Fortunately, some forested areas are protected under federal or provincial acts. Even so, changes are in the works to undermine the sanctity of our heritage.

So sad.

When I need a change of scenery…or a place to walk Sadie…I love to visit one of the local forested parks or green spaces in our Valley. Especially in spring. Anyone who knows me, knows how passionate I am about spring…the constant wonderment of re-birth. The ground is finally waking up from its winter slumber. Every day there is new joy to witness and celebrate.

Such pleasure is seeing Trillium ovatum coming into bloom. Many may be more familiar with its common names: Pacific trillium, western white trillium or western wake robin. I like the last one, so designated supposedly because the plant comes into flower just as the robins are “waking up”. So often such events lend themselves to the naming of plants.

As pretty as the trillium is, it has great value as a food plant and medicinal herb. Steamed and served with a sauce or added to soups and stews, the young leaves were a welcome sight back when the countryside was the only store in the area.

Tinctures made from the whole plant have been used to treat nose bleeds and bleeding haemorrhoids. Soaking the root bulb in water makes a good eyewash solution. But be forewarned: native elders forecast rain should any children pick a bouquet of trilliums.

Another early spring beauty in our forests is Erythronium revolutum, the pink fawn lily. Carpets of them are now appearing in many parts of the valley right now. Such a treat on Easter weekend!

I have a special fondness for the Erythronium species. Back when I was a kid, my parents would plan a picnic day in April every year, almost without fail, for my brother, sister and me. Our destination was a little church just outside of Victoria where the surrounding grounds were richly carpeted with thousands upon thousands of delicate white fawn lilies, Erythronium oregonum. Such a wondrous sight…the memory of which is still awe-inspiring for me years later.

These too, were used as food plants by the native peoples. The bulb was collected to be eaten fresh or dried for storage.

I have but touched on two species which are on display right now in our lightly-shaded forested areas. But there are many other plant species putting on their growth spurt and adding their might to the greening of our wilder landscape.

Saving the Earth…whether it be by the Hour, the Day, by the Week or by the Month…is an important undertaking. I want my grandchildren to share my erythronium memory with a memory of their very own special carpet of fawn lily flowers.

A walk through Miracle Beach Park with its thousands of pink fawn lilies is a must-see for everyone. The inspiration for our planet is breath-taking.

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her website is at www.duchessofdirt.ca and her column appears every second Thursday in the Record.

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