balsamroot flower

About the Olympic Peninsula Chapter

Checker Lily in bloom
Checker lily (Fritillaria affinis) in Kah Tai Prairie by Dixie Llewellin

Our vascular plant flora includes over 1500 species or about 40% of the species that occur in the state of Washington. Over 100 are listed as rare by the Washington State Natural Heritage Program and 9 are endemic to the Olympic Peninsula. Geographically, we are a peninsula which includes all or part of Jefferson, Clallam, Mason, Kitsap and Grays Harbor counties (over 6000 square miles). Thus, we range from the coastal rain forest to the Olympic rain shadow i.e. from 150 inches of annual rainfall to 15 inches; and from the Strait of Juan de Fuca, along both sides of  Hood Canal to the shores of Grays Harbor and the Chehalis River.  Habitat diversity includes salt marshes, prairies, bogs, mountain meadows, and tundra-like alpine, all of this within a matrix of old growth forests which harbor record size trees of several species.

The diverse flora of the Olympic Peninsula has attracted nearly 200 members to our Chapter and thousands of visitors to the Peninsula. During early spring when the surface of the high country is more white than green, the prairies, balds and beaches are in full flower.  Favorite places include Dungeness spit, the Hoh River Trail, the Duckabush River Trail, the Lake Crescent Railroad Grade and the remaining prairies of the Port Townsend and Sequim areas. By July the trails are open to the sub-alpine and alpine peaks, ridges and cirques. Mt. Townsend, Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge, Hurricane Ridge, and Obstruction Point become popular destinations. On the most diverse of these hikes over 200 vascular plant species will be found.


We are trying to keep it this way!

Our Chapter is active in native plant protection and restoration projects involving prairies, salt marshes, rare plants and coastal strand communities. In addition, our members assist non-profit groups with botanical inventories and monitoring for land preservation and habitat restoration projects. Anybody who is interested is welcome to participate with us on a botany hike, a restoration project or any of our monthly programs. For information on our activities click on the links displayed on this page.