Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

On Instagram and Twitter: @unionbaywatch

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Fall Color - Updates

This week two emails arrived with more information about the spider and the red plant in the previous post.

From Arthur Jacobson, our local Seattle tree and plant expert.

Dear Larry,

Lovely photo. But the master gardner was incorrect. He or she told you Viburnum trilobum, a Washington State native that grows wild nowhere near Seattle . . .   whereas the naturalized European Viburnum Opulus is common in low, wet places such as around Lake Washington. The two shrub species are similar in appearance. The attached PDF from "Wild Plants of Greater Seattle" has more details.


Unfortunately. I was unable to post the pdf from Arthur's book, "Wild Plants of Greater Seattle". On page 112 there is considerably information about the Highbush Cranberry and on page 113 the are very nice diagrams. If you follow the link above you can learn more about the book and its availability.

From Harsi Parker is in regards to the spider.

Hi Larry, 

Enjoyed your post -- especially reading about highbush cranberry (beautiful plant!) and also the great pics of mushrooms & spiders. 

Regarding finding an ID for your spider... You've got photos posted with a ventral (bottom) abdominal view of the spider. Typically, you'd need a dorsal (top) image of the abdominal pattern to make a guess at what species it is. That being said, I have viewed a lot of orbweaver spiders, and the vast majority of large ones in this area end up being Araneus diadematus, also known as the Cross Orbweaver or European Garden Spider. (I wouldn't be at all surprised if that's what your lovely photographic subject is!) This is an introduced species that seems to be completely thriving in the PNW. Here's a link to a page on BugGuide, which is an excellent photographic resource and also has a feature for submitting photos for ID help from experts and amateurs alike:


One of the best overall insect ID resources I can recommend. And it's free!

All my best, 
Harsi Parker
Vashon, WA


  1. Thanks to Arthur on the plant identification. While the Highbush Cranberry does not grow wild in Seattle, it is available at nurseries. I have two ten foot plus specimens bordering my front stairs (which both have climbing roses and a hardy jasmine growing through them), and they are only starting to turn color. The leaves are not that bright red color, yet. But the berries are lovely, and they used to stay on all during winter. Though in the last couple of years they have been eaten by birds and other wildlife.

    I try to have an edible garden, but have decided to just let the birds get the huckleberries, aronia berries and the grape that I bought only for its fall color (the Interlaken grapes with the insipid fall leaf color are mine, they make awesome raisins!). I also left some some apples on the espaliered trees that are my front fence for the critters, mostly for the birds.

    Lately I have seen an entire flock of Steller's Jays in our neighborhood centered around a neighbor's oak tree. They flutter from yard to yard like beautiful dark sapphires.

    (I live north of Union Bay, just east of the U-Village in Bryant, near the five corners intersection)

    1. Thank you for your comments. Your yard sounds like a wonderful retreat for birds in the city. You write so poetically it makes me wonder if you are a professional author. Either way, Thank You for following Union Bay Watch!

    2. Blush. Thank you, but I am not a writer. In fact, that was the part of the Graduate Record Exam I totally screwed up!