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Tag Archives: Native

Douglas Iris

What flower do you most associate with Spring?  Crocuses, daffodils, poppies?  It probably depends where you live, or where you grew up.  For me, a native Californian, nothing say “Spring” like the Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana).  It usually grows under a foot tall, but it packs a lot of beauty, especially when you find a large clump of them blooming together.  Its dark green leaves and deep purple flowers are a dramatic combo.

Happy Spring to all my northern hemisphere readers (and happy Fall to all of you on the southern half of our planet)!


The hibiscus is the state flower of Hawai’i.  Specifically the yellow hibiscus, although it’s a deeper shade of yellow than the one in the image above.  There are seven species of hibiscus native to the islands, but most of the hibiscus plants in the islands are actually Chinese hibiscus.   Most hibiscus flowers have no scent.  But who cares when they’re this beautiful?

Something I’ve noticed about hibiscus is that there are almost always ants in the flowers.  Attention women:  if you’re picking one to put behind your ear, give it a once-over.  Wearing a flower behind you’re left ear means you’re spoken for, and behind the right ear means you’re available.

One of the things I love the most about visiting tropical places is the diversity of plants and flowers.  That’s certainly true about Hawai’i, although many (most?) of the plants and flowers that we think are Hawaiian are actually non-native.   Anthurium originated in Costa Rica, bird of paradise in South Africa, Heliconia in Central and South America, red ginger in Malaysia…the list goes on.

I enjoy visiting botanical gardens when I travel, and not just in the tropics.  It’s a great way to learn about the culture, by finding out what plants were used by the native peoples, and for what purposes.  You can also find out which plants are edible, just in case you get lost on your next hike.  And last but not least, there are the photo ops.  Lots of gorgeous plants and flowers in one place, most with handy placards for easy identification.

If you’re the geeky type (like me), I recommend getting in the habit of snapping a shot of the sign either right before or right after you shoot a new plant or flower.  Then when you’re sorting images on your computer, you can easily keyword them for future reference, or to sort your images for a particular plant or flower.  Even if you’re not into cataloging your images, you’ll at least have that data on hand in case you ever need it.

Or, just enjoy the flowers for their looks.  Nothing wrong with that either.  As Shakespeare so eloquently put it:  “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”