Purple loosestrife. This distinctive flower popped up in a few places along the Burnaby Lake trail. It was easy to identify; although similar to the native fireweed, purple loosestrife’s petals are more pointy. L. salicaria was introduced to North America and has taken over from East to West. More interesting information can be read here.
This artwork is the first collaboration piece, painted by my friend Rébécca Gourde! Liquitex Basics Acrylic on 8×10” Quality Canvas Panel using “a lot of different paintbrushes.”
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 18:23 about 110 m down the trail east of BBY001. About 2 – 3’ (0.7 – 1 m) tall, a single stalk by itself. Others were later observed in larger groupings at the south side of the lake.
American or European beech. I need to see the flowers and the fruit to know for sure which species this is. Being a relatively small tree, it might be too young to show fruit. It may not be a beech since there are no native beeches on the West coast. Another species whose leaves these resemble is American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), which is in the birch family (Betulaceae) along with the paper birch and red alder a few weeks back. All of these options are native to Eastern North America.
This tree caught my eye since it had these brightly coloured leaves even in July when I wrote it on my list. I have seen other trees around the lake that look the same while having pure green leaves. This tree was quite small and the leaves were very sparse, stemming from several trunks. The bark is smooth and resembles that of the alder, having the same lichen growth patches.
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 18:20 about 100 m down the trail from BBY001. About 15’ (4.6 m) tall, with three main trunks.
Art by Nelson Spies, December 2, 2020. Acrylic on primed canvas sheet.
Pacific willow, shining willow, whiplash willow. My first attempt at guessing the species of this tree was black willow. Native to eastern North America, I thought it was unlikely to be that exact species, although I know a lot a migration of introduced species has happened. Looking at “Native Trees of Canada,” a 1956 handbook passed down to me, I discovered the most likely native willow species: the pacific willow. It loves to grow in marshy ground as do a lot of willows. I have seen these trees all around the lake, with different shapes and sizes but with the same leaves, which twist slightly to one side at the tips. The bark is rough and dark, and some trees have young shoots starting from the ground or low on the trunk. I want to revisit these trees in the spring when the young leaves and flowers come out!
This is my first acrylic/canvas artwork in this project, and I think it worked well for the subject! I’m looking forward to painting more of these plants and animals.
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 18:11 across the trail from the alder tree (004).
Art by Nelson Spies, November 11, 2020. Acrylic on primed canvas sheet.
Lady fern. Ferns are so beautiful and complex, but the simplicity of my art reflects my knowledge of these plants. I had no idea where to start in identifying this one. I still don’t understand exactly what “pinnatifid” means but it’s a start! The leaf structure is bipinnate-pinnatifid if anyone was wondering. Another clue was hidden under the leaf. The sori, or spore structures used to reproduce, are intricately shaped and sometimes protected by a tiny tissue. The sori of this lady fern (pictured here in mid-September) are kidney shaped.
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 18:09 under the alder tree from last week.
Art by Nelson Spies, September 24, 2020. Acrylic and ink on 65 lb green cardstock.
Called red alder, Oregon alder, or western alder, A. rubra is part of the Betulaceae family (the birches). The tree grows female cones and male catkins on the same branch. The bark is often marked by small to large white patches of lichen that thrive on certain trees.
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 18:04 at the all-weather field trailhead. About 20 – 30’ (6 – 9 m) tall.
Art by Nelson Spies, November 4, 2020. Pencil on medium surface paper.
Paper birch, western white birch. As we will see in next week’s post and still more to come, the first day’s expedition to track the species at Burnaby Lake was a bit naïve and ambitious. I correctly distinguished that entries 003 and 004 were different trees while out in the field; however, after reviewing my photos the next day, for a long while I could see no difference. Clueless about how to identify plants (and I’m still novice), I didn’t have clear pictures showing leaf or flower structures. Returning to the location multiple times, I gradually became familiar with at least two trees around here! This is a birch, and next week (004) will be an Alder.
The base model (B. papyrifera / var papyrifera) grows widely elsewhere in Canada.
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 18:00 at the all-weather field trailhead. About 20 – 30’ (6 – 9 m) tall.
Art by Nelson Spies, October 26, 2020. Pencil on medium surface paper.
Rose spirea, hardhack, Douglas spirea, steeplebush. Another member of the rose family (see 001 last week), this native bush produces beautiful fuzzy flowers all around the lake for much of the summer. I’ve seen red-winged blackbirds sitting in the dried upper branches eating the seeds.
While native, bountiful, and beautiful in North America, this species is considered invasive in Europe!
Specimen recorded July 24, 2020, 17:55 at the all-weather field trailhead. About 9’ (2.7 m) tall.
Art by Nelson Spies, September 17, 2020. Coloured pencil on medium surface paper.
The first species on my observation list from Burnaby Lake is the mountain-ash tree. This is one of my favourite trees as I have had one in my backyard since I was young. Every fall it attracts all kinds of birds with its red berries.
I first wrote down the species of this specimen as S. scopulina, the local native “western” or “Greene’s” mountain-ash, but looking further makes me think it might one of several species or even a cross. Similar trees include S. sitchensis (Sitka mountain-ash) or S. aucuparia (European mountain-ash). More info from E-Flora BC, UBC.
A member of the rose family, Rosaceae, this is the first of many plants we will see in that distinction. It’s funny, knowing so little about taxonomy, I didn’t realize so many plants were of that family. I came across a Robert Frost:
As I kick off Park Canvass, you may want to know who am I? What am I going for?
The project name
“Canvass” is a word to describe surveying, probing for information, as opposed to “Canvas,” a fibrous woven material often used for paintings. I combine the meaning of both words in my project title. Although I don’t want to limit future episodes of this project to parks, the word “Park” can apply to most open spaces outdoors.
Who am I?
I’m Nelson, a fledgling mechatronics designer with too many ambitions. One of the many reasons I started this project in a more formal, professional format was to force myself to focus. And focusing on a public project that encompasses art, photography, hiking, science, social media, and graphics seemed like a good compromise between the necessary pressure of production and my scattered interests.
I work at a Vancouver tech startup and I bike to work when the weather’s nice. Whatever interesting things I’m not doing at work I’m doing in my free time, such as cooking, painting, photography, and playing music.
What’s the plan? The plan is always evolving. Basically, I will research as many species of plant or animal or fungus as I have observed at my Park Canvass location (currently Burnaby Lake). I will try to determine the species, whether it’s native or introduced, and find some interesting facts that I hope you will appreciate. I or a collaborator will draw or paint that specimen for some added creativity. Then I’ll post each entry on Instagram, Flickr, and here with varying levels of detail. The schedule is up for debate, although I had initially dreamed of daily posts.