Russ Park ~ Ferndale, CA
Ferndale, the Pacific Ocean, and the mouth of the Eel River are seen from the Ferndale Viewpoint on the Eucalyptus Trail.
A visit to Russ Park in early spring is becoming ritual—in our yearly quest for wildflowers. This time of year the forest is greening and some spectacular early-blooming plants are well represented. One of the earliest bloomers on the North Coast is the fetid adder's tongue (Scoliopus bigelovii) also known as slinkpod. Finding the inconspicuous flower is the most difficult task—identifying it is easy. As with all members of the lily family (Liliaceae) the flower parts are in groups of three. The sepals are the most distinct part of the flower—having beautifully patterned deep reddish lines decorating a creamy palette. The three petals themselves are smaller with curved tips—surrounding the three part stigma.
From the ground up, the mottled leaves with a shoot leading to the three part sepals, petals, and stigma.
The mottled leaves grow to be quite large leading to the common name "adder's tongue" and the "fetid" reference comes from the smell of the flower itself—thought to entice pollination by fungal gnats. Once the flower has been pollinated, the weight of the seed pod is too much for the stem to bare and the whole package drops to the ground. From there the seed slinks along, stem still growing, until it buries itself in the ground a safe distance from the parent plant—ready to germinate the following year. Russ Park has on of the largest blooms of the slinkpod I have found on the North Coast—though another great spot, just across the Eel River Valley, is in Fortuna's Rohner Park.
The Fetid Friend (Jeffrey kane ssp. biglover) discovered a red-bellied newt (Taricha granulosa) on the trail around Zipporah's Pond in Russ Park.
Marin CNPS: Scoliopus bigelovii
BLM: Scoliopus bigelovii