Botany by Boat: Plant Inventory in the San Juan Island

For the past week, I have been working with a Geocore intern to collect baseline data for the San Juans National Monument.  We, along with a number of amazing volunteers, collected information on recreation infrastructure and botanical communities on 11 islands over the course of 4 days. Some areas covered several hundred acres while others were less than a tenth of an acre in size. The vegetation spanned from thin soiled herbaceous balds to coniferous forests with dense (DENSE) understory shrubs. We visited islands with a long cultural history, sites of lighthouses which still attract thousands of visitors each year. We visited popular camping islands along the scenic bay. We also managed to monitor small islands in the archipelago, spots not known by the public with no human trails. Between island visits, we saw breathtaking views from the boat; of the nearby islands and of the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges.


Cattle Point Lighthouse, San Juan Island

Plant composition varied marginally with each island. The more trafficked islands as expected had more invasives including English Ivy, Canadian Thistle, Himalayan Blackberry, Hairy cats ear, Dandelion, Rosefoot Geranium, as well as a myriad of grasses. Smaller islands tended to have western juniper trees
and Garry Oak, both species being uncommon elsewhere in the arcipelago. Regarding the prettier characteristic flowers of the San Juan Islands, we found
Great Camas , Death Camas, Nootka Rose, Nodding Onion, Hayacinth Brodia, Bicolor Lupine, Common Paintbrush, Woodland Strawberry.

Great Camas

Great Camas

Leave a Reply