Calendula officinalis (Pot marigold)
The shadow of a chain-link fence falls across the face of a ‘feral’ calendula down by the train tracks. Pot marigolds are from Southern Europe but have become ‘naturalized’ in many places with temperate climates (like Vancouver). They’re much loved by gardeners because they thrive in all soil types - give them a sunny spot, and away they go. Obviously, the pampered life of an uptown garden flower has been rejected by this rugged individualist who, apparently, prefers life on the other side of the tracks.
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Grindelia integrifolia (Puget Sound gumweed)
Puget Sound gumweed is a very common native plant in Vancouver and it grows in coastal areas from Alaska to California. Like so many weeds, this plant grows in ‘disturbed areas’ and it positively likes poor soils. The transformation of the landscape to suit human needs has provided many opportunities for plants like this to thrive. Compacted soil with too much salt or too much clay is the preferred habitat of the Puget Sound gumweed.
You never see gumweed in the deep forest, it’s too shady and disturbed areas are few and far between. This plant once grew in the disturbed area at the foot of a receding glacier and it’s specialized for that environment. Indeed, glaciers have come and gone in Vancouver, seven times in the past million years and the last glacier receded from this beach a mere 11,500 years ago. It’s possible that Climate change may reverse these periodic glaciations for good - maybe, the only upside to global warming. However, as long as people continue mucking about, I have no fears for the Puget Sound gumweed’s long-term survival.
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