Nature’s Depths

Walking through nature with John Palka, a neuroscientist who loves plants and ponders big questions

Exploration

Driftwood on Rialto Beach, Olympic Peninsula

Root Lessons from Nature’s Sculpture Garden

Exploration

The wild ocean coast of the Pacific Northwest is like a natural sculpture garden in which fantastical shapes abound. On almost any beach or cove you visit, you will find logs and uprooted trees in mind-boggling arrays, the trunks as straight as the beams of a house, the roots twisted in phantasmagorical convolutions.  They have many lessons to teach us.

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Pearly everlasting and fritillary, Olympic Mountains

Mountain Meadow Tales – Vibrant Flowers

Exploration

The mountains of the American West are justly famous for their alpine flower meadows, none more so than the Colorado Rockies and the Washington Cascades. . . The flowers are advertising their presence, the pollinators are surveying the territory for potential sources of food, the sensory signals generated by the flowers match the sensory capabilities and behavioral preferences of the pollinators. The outcome is cross-fertilization for the flowers, and nutrition for the pollinators. Is it not a beautiful system?

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Cemetery Woods Indian Pipe Cluster

Indian Pipe and the Forest Underground

Exploration

Indian pipe is a ghostly, fleshy, white-stemmed wraith with a nodding white flower at the tip, poking its way up through the duff of the forest floor. It looks like nothing else in the forest and like nothing in your garden. Its life story illustrates the intricate web of life that exists in the forest.

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