[Tweeters] A Vine of our Clime

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Mar 3 13:28:33 PST 2014

As a Puget Sound native I've always been enamored with our native vines - another exciting episode of "absence makes the heart grow fonder", maybe.

On my few trips back to the "Great Humid East" (Wisconsin, southern Ontairio, ect.) this yokel was thrilled to see the major native vinage growing in those places. Giant vines of grapes, creeper, bittersweet, ect. growing all over the forests, climbing up in the trees - an amazing display, to me anyway! Vines as major players.

Because, while we got vines out here, they are a subtler presence. Native vines, I mean, not the Green Menace, english ivy, or the european "clematis that ate Seattle" and other places (clematis vitalba).

So I am thrilled walking around Port Townsend these days (in my off-time as temporary elder care worker) to find myself in the center of the Honeysuckle Universe . That would be of our attractive Lonicera ciliosa, with it's somewhat evergreen foliage.

Fort Worden State Park apparently has all of the environmental qualities to make this plant happy. Not only does it sprawl all over the understory shrubbery, it also climbs way up into the dougfirs there. My sources list the plant as growing up to 20 ft, but at Fort Worden, I found many growing up that much, and several up to about 40 ft or more! I think that's pretty cool. OK, so the vines are sorta scrawny looking now, but once they get blooming, with their snazzy orange tube flowers this spring, the hummers will be happy.

Here in this young second growth fir forest, the vines must have grown up with the trees, since they aren't wrapping around the (now) tall bare trunks - they must have twined up on earlier low branches, and worked their way up over time. So I'm guessing the vines are as old as the trees, which is interesting. I will get my pruners out one day, and a handlens, and count honeysuckle growth rings one day, to see if I'm right. (not in the park of course, somewhere else in the general area.)

Jeff Gibson

posting from

the Port Townsend Library

More information about the Tweeters mailing list