Varieties of Yellow Pond-lilies can be found across the US.

Why is it possible to drown a common house plant and yet there are plants that grow gleefully in water?

The common Yellow Pond-lily has a beautiful bloom and large, heart-shaped floating leaves (nearly 18-inches in length). The bloom is nearly 4-inches and held just above the water surface in spring through early fall.


The Yellow Pond-lily has developed a specialized type of underwater tissue that helps it survive. This tissue, called aerenchyma, facilitates the underwater movement of large amounts of oxygen and other gasses. This tissue holds eight times the amount of oxygen, compared to a house plant.

Respiration in water lily-type plants is anaerobic (meaning the process occurs without oxygen). Many ponds and slow-moving waters where it grows are often low oxygen. This respiration process creates ethanol (a type of alcohol) within the plant’s cells.

This alcohol is poisonous to the plant. To get rid of the alcohol quickly, the plant evaporates it up through the aerenchyma cells and bloom. The pretty yellow blooms smell strongly of alcohol which attract pollinating flies, and create a small bottle-shaped tuber to store sugars in (explains the common European name of ‘Bandy-bottle’).


Yellow Pond lilies have been used in traditional medicines remedies. There are warnings related to tannins and selecting materials from a clean water source (see the Natural Medicinal Herbs website at Note: Not all varieties or parts of the Yellow Pond-lily are edible or appropriate for use.

The Edible Wild Food website ( reports that the Yellow Pond-lily was a common food source for many Native people. Natives leached the rootstocks collected in the spring and winter of tannins and boiled or roasted for flour. Seeds were often cooked like popcorn. Flowers can make a refreshing drink.

The National Park Service reports Yellow-Pond lily species ‘Nuphar polysepalum’ growing in the Denali National Park/Preserve lowlands in Alaska. When cooked, this variety is also tasty (see Denali National Park, Alaska,

Where to find it

Yellow Pond Lilies grow in a wide variety of aquatic habitats as far south as Baja California, and north into Alaska. Habitat ranges from hot desert ponds to ponds frozen more than half of the year!

Want it?

Propagate Yellow Pond Lilies through seed or division and will grows in containers!

For more information, see Plants for a Future at Image is Royalty free from

Neither a grape or a holly be…
This evergreen is not a tree. 
The spike and point to clusters yellow,
Makes the fruit a favorite fellow.

Oregon grape became our State Flower in 1899. Choosing a favorite from so many beauties must have been difficult.

Oregon Grape flower and leaves (image courtesy of Oregon State University, Landscape)

State flowers provide a way to showcase abundance, beauty, historical significance, feelings, and economic prowess. Oregon grape was chosen to represent beauty and abundance.

Why Oregon Grape?

The common plant name suggests that this plant is a grape. It is not.

Oregon Grape is a woody evergreen shrub under the Berberis Barberry family. Barberry shrubs are common in many Pacific Northwest landscapes.

Where Found?

Oregon Grape grows in Southeast Alaska, east into Alberta, Canada, and south into central New Mexico. It often grows in Douglas-fir forests common in the Pacific Northwest.

Clusters of bright yellow flowers makes this plant easy to identify in the early spring. In the fall, the plant produces a crop of small, purple-ish-black grape-shaped fruit. The fruit is bitter, but edible.

Oregon Grape flower close up (image courtesy of Oregon State University, Landscape)

Not a Holly

The dark green, glossy holly-like leaflets have sharp spines and can reach 12-inches in length.

It is not closely related to a holly. Like a holly, this plant will tolerate poor soils, resist summer drought, and create minimal leaf litter. It rarely grows over four feet tall.

Shiny leaves are usually a sign that a plant will resist wilting making them attractive to florists. Depending on the variety (and there are several), the leaf color may shift in the fall to more of a purple-ish tint.

Who Loves Ya?

Birds love the berries, along with the bees and butterflies. Berries can be used to make juice, jelly, jam, and wine. Note: The berries are quite tart and have large seeds. Berries are best eaten after the first frost.

Indigenous people used the inner bark and roots to make yellow dye; berries make a purple.


Medicines for stomach ailments and fighting bacterial/fungal infections have been made from rhizomes. There is even documentation show it might help with psoriasis.

Other Uses

Oregon Grape is deer resistant. The sharp spiny leaves make formidable natural barriers.

The plant does not require regular fertilization. A bit of compost over the root zone will help it retain moisture and reduce weeds).

The Oregon Grape provided much utility for pioneering families and indigenous peoples in our area.

–World Atlas, What is the State Flower of Oregon? (
–Oregon State University, Landscape Plants (
–Web MD (  
–Wikipedia, Oregon Grape ( and  Berberis_aquifolium)
–Britannica Encyclopedia, Oregon Grape (
–Oregon Grape-Holly Care (

It survives by hanging on tight…really tight…

‘Crusty foulers’ will attached to just about anything (from NOAA)

Gooseneck barnacles or Leaf barnacles will stick themselves to almost anything—including each other. Barnacles create a tough, wrinkled brown connector stalk with an amazingly strong, fast-curing glue that is one of the most powerful natural glues known.

Hanging on tight

The glue has a tensile strength of 5,000 pounds per square inch and an adhesive strength of 22-60 pounds per square inch. Researchers are trying to figure out how this glue might be commercially useable. (NOAA)

On the other hand, many a recreational boater is also most likely trying to figure out how to get them off their hulls using a pressure washer. It is not easy, and some boaters call them by their slang name: “crusty foulers.” (NOAA, NAVY)

…some boaters call them by their slang name: “crusty foulers.


Gooseneck Barnacles are very common on Northwest coasts, and often abundantly clustered on rocks, boats, pilings, buoys, whales, and each other in exposed or partially exposed areas.

They survive being exposed to the air by shutting a multilayered ‘door’ which allows them to conserve moisture. Once out of danger, they open the ‘door’ to feed. Barnacles send out multiple, feather-like appendages (called cirri) to filter and capture a variety of microscopic larvae, worms, algae, etc. brought in by the water movement.

A struggle for survival

Barnacles constantly struggle against multiple organisms for survival in a very narrow niche. Heavy barnacle growth can have negative impacts to the environment and humans.

If barnacles dominate that niche, it can limit other species (numbers and variety) and degrade their environment.

The U.S. Navy estimates that heavy barnacle growth on ships increases weight and drag by as much as 60 percent. Impact? An increase of 40 percent in fuel consumption! Imagine the impact to a whale!

There are more than 1,400 species of barnacles that are crustaceans like crab, lobsters, shrimp/prawns, etc.  Some crustaceans are edible, and the Gooseneck barnacle, is one of them. In the past it was used as a human food source particularly during fasts. Today barnacles are considered more of a food source for local wildlife such as gulls, oystercatchers, and sea stars.

References and where to find more information:
–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, U.S. Dept. of Commerce “What are barnacles?”  (
–Wikipedia articles (very informative) on Goose barnacles and Pollicipes_polymerus (…)
–Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife search (
–U.S. Navy ‘New Hull Coatings Cut Fuel Use, Protect Environment’  (