San Juan and Olympic Rainshadow Ecosystem
Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) photographed by Michelle Margroff. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
Occurring in the rainshadow of the Olympics this ecosystem is found on the eastside of the Olympics and includes areas around Sequim and Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula and the San Juan Island archipelago. This area is characterized by considerably less rainfall than surrounding areas with an average annual precipitation of about 30 inches, dry forest and meadows are found here with their own unique assemblage of native plants. The Pacific madrone punctuates forested bluffs with its rich red peeling bark and is typical of the dry forest communities in the San Juan Islands and on the Olympic Peninsula. Within the forest the lovely orange Columbia lily and the spritely calypso orchids may be found. Along the forest edge look for nootka rose and perched on rocky outcrops the golden yellow flowers of the succulent native plant known as stonecrop may be seen. Meadows of camas, chocolate lily, wild onions and Idaho fescue are common.