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The Boardwalk at Olympic National Park

Making It Grow Minute

  The hike we took in Olympic National Park was heavily forested but the boardwalk we walked on created a micro-climate where small flowering plants took advantage of the sunlight. One very noticeable plant was Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis. This six-inch high plant makes carpets of white flowers, actually bracts, just like our flowering dogwood, and it is native to the upper Northern US, parts of Canada, Greenland and into Northeast Euasia. The tiny true flowers have explosive petals that when ripe, instantly snap open showering a visiting insect with pollen previous dehisced and stored inside. Larger beetle and flower fly visitors eat this nutritious food but also carry it stuck on their body hairs from flower to flower, effectively performing cross pollination to insure genetic diversity. The red fruits that follow are eaten by animals and dispersed in their droppings.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.