Spring has arrived in the West Duwamish Greenbelt! This week in the greenbelt you can find two different native shrubs with bright pink flowers – red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), a member of the gooseberry family and salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), a member of the Rose family.

Red Flowering Currant

Red-flowering currant

Red-flowering currant

This shrub is covered with drooping clusters of small bright pink and white flowers. Right now the leaves have not quite emerged and by the time the leaves are fully visible, the flowers will be fading. Later in the summer the flowers will develop into round black fruits, which are not believed to be poisonous, but in terms of flavor are probably not worth collecting for food unless you are a bird.

Where to find it: Red-flowering currant prefers drier sites. At Soundway Park a fine specimen of red-flowering currant can be seen along the trail that leads west from the Nature Consortium tool shed/shipping container near the south end of South Seattle College. In the greenbelt red flowering currant plants tend to grow as individuals rather than in groups of multiple currant plants, most likely because most have been planted as part of our restoration efforts over the past several years.


Salmonberry flower

Salmonberry flower

The other shrub that is just beginning to show its bright pink flowers is salmonberry, a relatively close relative of the non-native Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) that we spend so much time and effort trying to eradicate from the greenbelt. (We wrote a bit about that in this post.) The salmonberry flowers are bell-shaped and occur individually (rather than in clusters) at the ends of the branches. Similar to blackberry branches, the pale brown salmonberry branches usually produce thorns, but unlike the Himalayan blackberry thorns, those of the salmonberry are straight rather than hook-shaped, comparatively thin, and seldom cause the kinds of wounds that its non-native relative is known to cause.  In June the pale orange salmonberries will develop, looking very much like Himalayan blackberries except of course they are not black.

Where to find it: Numerous expansive patches of salmonberry can be seen in topographically low and seasonally wet sites throughout the greenbelt and are particularly numerous near the trails that lead through the Soundway area.

Explore the Forest

You can find these maps in the trailhead  kiosks at both Soundway and Pigeon Point Parks. Now is a great time to get outdoors and explore what the forest has to offer. Coming up, you can join us on a few guided Forest Hikes in the greenbelt, each with a different theme. Next month’s hikes will focus on birdwatching and family-friendly adventures. Then, in May we’ll host a botany-themed hike to explore the wonderful plants that are blooming. Head to our Forest Hikes page for more information.