I had a venture on Orcas Island (One of many this year). These trees on the edge of a rocky shoreline slope got a bit of my attention distracting me from the geology.
The evergreen is a Douglas fir. Likely a bit sculpted by wind and occasion salt spay and the rather harsh growing conditions on a bedrock slope with very thin to no soil. The woody brush was what got my attention.
The brush was a group of low growing oaks. As far as I know Quercus garryana is the only native oak in Washington State and I observed numerous oaks in the near vicinity of this patch. The patch of woody brush appeared to be heavily browsed by deer and this can modify the growth habits of the browsed upon trees. Deer can be pretty good bonsai artists.
When I took the picture above I stuck my fingers into the image for scale. I did not see another plant tucked partly under the low oak. It was only after pulling my hand back that I noticed the plant.
Opunntia fragillis - Brittle prickly pear cactus
This was a first for me on Orcas. I have seen this cactus on Lopez Island and Decatur Island. I had help spotting them on those previous sightings. The picture below shows that the cactus does not stand out.
Once I spotted the first patch, or it spotted me, I started looking for other patches and found several.
The cactus was was often just above the salt spray line. Just enough of a harsh spot to not get out competed by other plants. The Orcas site is on the drier side of the island as the island is situated within the rain shadow of the Olympic Range.
Perhaps this species pioneered the barren ground after glacial ice retreated and has only hung on in places where other plants have had a harder time. There are theories that these plants on the west side may have been partially nurtured by First Nations peoples. Given the above setting, that seems very possible as it was an appealing site.
Domico, Terry. Brittle Prickly-Pear Cactus (Opuntia fragilis) in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound Region of Washington State. Douglasia Occasional Papers, Vol. 7, No, 1, pp. 37-50, 1999.