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Ed Munro Seahurst Park, Burien— December 2007

By Dan Paquette

West-northwest of Seatac Airport is E.M. Seahurst Park. You can easily spend a couple of hours there on a cloudy December day, and then retreat for coffee when the Puget Sound air has sufficiently chilled you. Page references that I've included in the description are from Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Pojar and MacKinnon.

After arriving at the park, head down toward the beach. Walk northward along the graveled path at the base of the hill and parallel to the beach. You may see waterfowl such as herons, American widgeons, and buffleheads as you proceed about 250 yards before sighting a path heading up into the forest on your right. As you move up the trail, you'll note a typical cast of mixed forest native plants including Tolmiea menziesii (Piggy- Back Plant, p.168) and to a much less extent Tellima grandiflora (Fringecup, p.167). Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry, p. 76) is also plentiful.

Pertusaria amara
Pertusaria amara photographed by Richard Droker. Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

Almost immediately you begin passing about ten Alnus rubra (Red Alder, p. 44) on your left. Examine the olive-colored bark and you will see among the a diverse number of lichens one that is white, roughly circular, quite common, lies flat on the bark like it's painted on. The margin of this lichen has messy bluish to greenish concentric rings. This is a crustose lichen called Pertusaria amara. It's categorized as crustose because it is flat and has no bottom side — more or less wedded to the substrate. Wet you finger, rub the lichen slightly (don't overdo it) and taste your finger (see photo). The bitter taste will last for awhile. This lichen occurs along the coast and much of eastern North America. Also on some of these same trees are the graygreen circles of Menagazzia terebrata.

Menagazzia terebrata
Menagazzia terebrata photographed by Richard Droker. Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

Unlike the Pertusaria, Menangazia is foliose; i.e. flat but loosely attached to the bark (see photo). Note the flatness and small perforations.

If you remain on what appears to be the main trail, you will eventually come to a creek and after crossing a foot bridge, you'll pass a very large stump and off to the left is a very large hemlock and then a number of Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) all freckled with little light bushes of lichens known as Evernia prunastri (Antlered Perfume Lichen, p.498). As the trail ascends away from the creek, little Claytonia siberica (Siberian Miner's Lettuce, p. 133) are occasionally in bloom among the Urtica dioica (Stinging Nettle, p. 309). The trail now meets a service road.

For a bit of a workout, cross the road and the trail continues upward. When one reaches the top, you'll be in a clearing and close to people's backyards. You can return to the beach by taking the service road downward which is close by. You will pass stands of Arbutus menziesii (Pacific Madrone, p. 49) and less conspicuous is the Lonicera ciliosa (Western Trumpet Honey Suckle, p.69). Further down, you'll pass some patches of Rumex, some which may be in flower. The one I checked was Rumex obtusifolius, (Broad-Leaf Dock p. 130 ) which is not a native and has imperfect flowers. Check out the tiny female flowers under magnification. They look like Vampire-Medusas, don't you think?

When approaching the beach, you'll pass a building called Marine Technology. A trail will be coming down on your left. If you go up less than a hundred yards you will encounter large alders which have unusually thick bark. If you’ve seen large alders inland, you know that often they still retain a very thin bark.

Driving Directions: From I-5, exit west unto SR road 518. Remain on 518 as you enter Burien. You will be on 148th Street. Make a right turn onto 12th Avenue, then right on 144th Street, and left onto 13th Avenue which you follow downhill into the park. Slow for the speed bumps.

Many thanks to Richard Droker for accompanying me onsite
and photographing the lichens described.

Updated: July 3, 2016
Copyright 2000-2018 Washington Native Plant Society. All rights reserved.

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