Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Wildflowers of the Olympic Peninsula


Wild Flowers & Low Tides

Adult Special Interest Course S-N 013

Peninsula College

Spring Quarter, 2004


The Olympic Peninsula is host to myriad life forms.  With the multitude of ecological and climatic regimes, almost 1400 species of vascular plants are found in the various habitats on the peninsula.  This course will survey the wealth of species of flowering plants that start their dramatic appearance in early spring and continue their beauty pageant deep in to the summer months.  We will learn some of the basic technical aspects of plant identification and observation in lab and then proceed out to the field at different times of the bloom season to see them in the wild.  Along with a survey of flowering plants, we will learn about the hundreds of species of animal and plant life that comprise our tidal communities.  Photo essays in combination with field experiences will allow student to appreciate the high degree of biodiversity our area has in our tidal and plant communities.


Course Syllabus


Instructor:  A. Coke Smith

Phone:  (360) 565-0151/1571

Class Dates and Time:  08 April to 10 June 2004, Thursdays, 3:30PM to 5:30PM



Course Schedule


08 April: Introductions and course description.

Introduction to basic flowering plant anatomy and observation techniques.                                             

15 April: Photo survey of some of the various flowering plants found in our area.  This slide show will illustrate several dozen of our more common flowering plants – both annuals and perennials. 


24 April: Field Trip #1:  Today we will visit some of the lower elevations of the peninsula to view some of the early bloomers, such as pioneer violet, trillium, false Solomon’s seal, twisted stalk, fringe cup, wild ginger and others.  Our hopeful destinations will be Marymere Falls trail and the Spruce Railroad trail.  Time:  9:45AM until 1:00 PM.  More details TBA.


06 May: Today we will view a photo survey of the wealth of biodiversity found in our tidal communities.  We will discuss the various life forms ranging from algae to the numerous invertebrate species and even some vertebrates!  We will discuss the field trip to take place during a strong minus tide in June.




29 May: Field Trip #2: Today we will attempt to visit higher elevation bloomers.  While walking the Heart of the Hills trail, we will search for bunchberry, fairy slippers, Pipsissewa, pyrola and other species.  And if conditions permit, we will venture up to the end of the road to see some of species that make their homes at or near Hurricane Ridge.  Time:  10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  More details TBA.


05 June: Field Trip #3:  Today we will experience the incredible biodiversity found in our tidal communities at Salt Creek.  In expectation of some fantastic minus tides, we will meet in the morning and start our investigation in the higher littoral zones and work out way lower as the tide recedes.  We will learn about the species we encounter discussing their natural history, taxonomy and survival adaptations.  Time: 9:45 AM to 11:30 AM.


Suggested Texts:

Stewart, Charles.  1994.  Wildflowers of the Olympics and Cascades. Nature Education    Enterprises Publishing.  224pp.


Pojar & Mackinnon. 1994.  Plants of the Pacific Northwest CoastWashington, British Columbia & Alaska.  Lone Pine Press.  527pp.


Field Trip Information:

  Dates, Destinations & Times – see the above syllabus.


What to Bring:

  • Note paper
  • Camera
  • Writing utensils
  • Warm clothes – be able to peel!
  • Weatherproof shoes – good walking shoes.  Rubber boots for tidal community.
  • Rain gear!!!  (This is Washington after all…)
  • Binoculars
  • Small backpak/napsack
  • Lunch
  • Trail snacks
  • Plenty of water
  • Sun screen (yah right….)
  • Mosquito spray
  • Prescriptions
  • Park pass


I will endeavor to have a pass for the group, but it would be nice if as many of you as possible could bring a park pass.  We will be using private vehicles.  During the evening class prior to the field trip, we will form car pools. 


The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.   Peninsula College is committed to providing accessibility to all students.  Any student with special needs must complete a self-identification form available in the counseling office.  This information will remain strictly confidential.