Glide Wildflower Show: a botanist’s dream

Hundreds of plant species were on display for the 2018 Glide Wildflower Show April 28 and 29. The show is consistently held on the last full weekend in April.

The Glide Wildflower Show show relies upon an outpouring of community volunteers each year to serve the travelers and local residents, numbering in the hundreds per year, who come to witness native plants of southwest Oregon.

“They don’t just take a pretty little flower, and put it in a pretty little vase and say, ‘This is what the flower would look like.’ You get to see the entirety of the plant,” said former volunteer Paul Antos.“It takes a lot of people, there are a lot of volunteers, and they’re all volunteers.”

“Founded in 1965, the Glide Wildflower Show is the largest display of native flora in the northwest. Over 600 species of flowers, shrubs, grasses, ferns, lichens and mosses are gathered by dozens of collecting teams who travel throughout southwest Oregon from the Cascade Mountains to the coast,” the show’s website explains.

However, some species of Douglas County are not suitable to be picked for the show due to their scarcity: “Threatened or endangered [species] are always photographed,” said Antos.

The scope of the show is far more broad than wildflowers alone. Trees, rare plants, information on noxious weeds and expert speakers were present for the public even though no entry fee was required for the show. Approximately 80 species of lichen alone were present at this years show.

Wren Davidson spoke both on Saturday and Sunday on the topic of medicinal and edible plants. Davidson explained at length the benefits of a variety of native plants, many of which are often viewed as pests.

Davidson prefaced her talk by saying “What I share with you is anecdotal,” but she also said that she places a great amount of her belief in these plants and the anecdotes. Davidson shared a story of her friend from France recounting to Davidson that the nutritive qualities of stinging nettle saved her family in war time.

Oregon grape, dandelion, and yellow dock were all described by Davidson as plants that support liver activity. All of these plants have a bitter taste. She went on to discuss the benefits of even tasting bitter foods, and she said that simply the sensation of a bitter taste stimulates the production of bile in the liver, and this helps the human body to digest dietary fat.

The Glide Wildflower Show cannot be fully appreciated without attendance, and it is hard to envision the amount of work that can go into displaying plants for the public: “There are a lot of people that you do not see if you go to the Glide Wildflower Show. You don’t see the vasers, you don’t see the people that pick these plants, who go out and spend quite a lot of time in the driving rain sometimes, absolutely driving rain, freezing cold weather, to collect these plants. You don’t see the people who set up to bring in these plants to refrigerate them for two days before they’re vased,” said Antos, who also credited volunteers from board members to those who make lunch for the vasers.

The efforts of the show volunteers are not as obvious as the beauty of the plants displayed, but the perennial efforts of volunteers have kept the Glide Wildflower Show running for over 50 years. The Glide Wildflower Show presented a total of 615 species and hosted 1,146 visitors this year.

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