the ecosystem pulses from the irregular fruiting cycles of arbutus, madrone, Arbutus menziesii

arbutus fruit above Weston Lake, Salt Spring Island * 2020 October 10 * P1010024

These island ecosystems are profoundly structured around the pulses of food from the irregular fruiting cycles of dominant hardwood trees such as arbutus, ЌEЌEILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qaanlhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], madrone, Arbutus menziesii — as well as Garry oak.

arbutus fruit above Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island * 2020 October 13 * P1010074

In recent decades at the northern end of its distribution, arbutus has tended to flower and fruit every three years but the last time there was such an exceptional level of arbutus berries was six years back.

These years of plenty are particularly important for birds such as band-tailed pigeon, HEMU [SENĆOŦEN], Patagioenas fasciata. Peaks in cycles of Garry oak acorns, another dominant in a specific kind of ecosystem, are typically, but not necessarily, on other years. “The species [band-tailed pigeon] is listed as Special Concern under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act.”

arbutus fruit, south of St Mary’s Lake, Salt Spring Island 2020 October 15 * P1010094
arbutus berries, south of St Mary’s Lake, Salt Spring Island 2020 October 15 * P1010111

Plant native trees associated with south-facing sites every October

Seeds of three native trees often dominant to south-facing sites are best planted in the autumn. 2020 October 6 P1010052

Three trees native to the Gulf and San Juan Islands are far more common and often dominant on south-facing sites:

Garry oak / Oregon white oak, ĆEṈÁLĆ [SENĆOŦEN], P’hwulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Quercus garryana;

arbutus / madrone, ЌEЌEILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qaanlhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Arbutus menziesii; and

Pacific crabapple, ḴÁ,EW̱ILĆ [SENĆOŦEN], Qwa’up-ulhp [HUL’Q’UMI’NUM’], Malus fusca.

The red seeds on the black plate are arbutus, the brown are acorns, and the smaller yellow fruit are Pacific crab-apples. The larger yellow fruit are from a volunteer crab-apple that may well have hybridized with local populations of Malus fusca or more probably another Eurasian apple cultivar.

Late September and October, after days of rains, is the best time to plant these seeds and respective seedlings.







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