We’ve been hiking on Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and in the Gorge the last few weeks and have been seeing these everywhere, usually in large bunches. We’ve seen them on roadsides, trail sides and lower-elevation meadows.
These classic cushion shaped plants dot the open, gravelly, mountain tops of the Pacific Northwest. (more…)
According to Scotter & Flygare’s Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies, the black-tipped bracts “were considered by the Inuit to be a sign of mourning for a band of unsuspecting Inuit massacred in 1771 by Indian warriors who accompanied the explorer Samuel Hearne on his expedition to the Arctic Coast. Sir John Richardson first collected this plant near the massacre site, Bloody Falls, on the Coppermine River and named it lugens from the latin word ‘to mourn’.”
Young leaves and flowers can be eaten raw. Native Americans used the dried stems as a salt substitute.
This plant’s boiled roots were once used as a cure for diarrhea. It’s better known cousin, Crimson Columbine can be found here.
As the common name suggests, the fruits are not edible. The latin name comes from Archibald Menzies, a surgeon and naturalist with Vancouver’s Pacific Coast expedition (1790-95), an early botanist of pacific northwest plants.
“The fruits are rather small, but sweet, aromatic, and richly flavoured.” – Wildflowers of the Canadian Rockies, Scotter & Flygare, 1986. A cherished part of the diet of local inhabitants for centuries in both America and Europe. Mesimarja is a Finnish liqueur distilled from this fruit.