[Tweeters] The Purple Plant Eater!

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Fri Jul 8 18:15:45 PDT 2016

After watching shrimp shadows on the beach at Fort Worden here in Port Townsend the other day, I was in the mood for some more nature weirdness today, so I went looking for the elusive Purple Plant Eater at Point Wilson. I found a bunch of 'em.
What exactly is a Purple Plant Eater you might be wondering. Is it a purple animal that eats plants? Not so many purple animals in Port Townsend. How about something that eats purple plants - I guess, with a bit of gardening magic, one could grow an Eggplant here. You might wanna eat that. You could be a Purple Plant Eater.
No, what I'm talking about is a purple plant that feeds on other plants- the California Broomrape. I've posted about it before having spotted it a few years ago here at Point Wilson, the only place I've ever seen it personally. OK, it's a plant and not so elusive like birds can be, but it is easy to overlook.
The California Broomrape has no leaves, no chlorophyll- it's a little plant vampire sucking the juices from the roots of neighboring plants particularly, at Point Wilson, the Grindelia, or Gumweed - a common yellow-flowerd beach plant in the Composite family.
The California Broomrape is a small cluster of purplish stems and flowers blooping out of the ground- the clusters ranging from smaller than a golf ball to about tennis ball size. Pretty cool in my view. A wonderfully weird purple parasite. Oh, sure Forks has that whole Tee Vee tourist vampire deal going on, but Point Wilson is alive with suckers too.
If you go there, walk the sandy trail from the lighthouse parking lot toward the Sound beach and then hang a left along the cyclone fence out to the point. Look carefully for little clumps of Purple Plant Eaters- they're all over right now.
Jeff GibsonJust Sayin'Port Townsend Wa
PS: again, very quiet for birds out there- Barn Swallows, White-crowned Sparrows, a very few Rhinos and Guillemots, and not too much else while I was there.

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