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15 Aug 2019
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Summer in Tahoe
It's A Pine Drop and Yarrow Summer in North Lake Tahoe

While we are often treated to the same wildflowers and flowering plants year after year in the same location, other flowers seem to mostly disappear one year, and then come out in wild profusion the next year once the perfect amount of rain and snow appear the winter before. Two plants that I’ve noticed are having a very good year are Yarrow in Page Meadows, and Pine Drops all over the Tahoe woods.

Wildflower season in Page Meadows on Tahoe’s west shore often means purple, orange or red flowers, but when I recently I took a ride through the meadows I noticed that this year the dominant color was bright white. Most of the meadows were covered in a wave of white yarrow. On a windy day it’s a wave of white. 

Yarrow can grow up to 3 feet tall, but usually in the Tahoe region they are more like a foot. They have bright white clusters of flowers and have a fernlike, lacy appearance.

This also seems to be the summer of the pine drops. This tall narrow reddish brown curiosity of a plant must like those wet winters because they seem to be everywhere, growing fast and tall. I’ve got a half dozen that just sprouted together in my back yard, and within a few weeks they are over three feet tall. Next time you head out into the deep woods, keep your eyes open for them.

Perhaps pine drops got their name because they are commonly found in the pine forest. This is because the plant has just a bit of chlorophyll and instead gets its energy from a type of mycorrhizal fungi primarily associated with pine trees. The reddish-yellow stalks reach straight up, with small urn shaped flowers along the stalk. Following flowering the stalk gets darker, becomes brownish-black and stiff, almost wooden. The stalks can stay standing long after they appear dead.

What flower have you seen that is particularly prolific this year? Get out there and find out.