Last week, we ended up going to mount Tamalpais again! This week we started quite a bit farther down the mountain than we went last time.  Unfortunately, that meant that we didn’t get any high up views of San Francisco, but we did still got some very cool views of the ocean! We went from around Midway up the mountain down to the coastal cliffs. As a result, we didn’t get to see much serpentine outcrop but we still got a pretty big fill of some woodlands. In addition, we saw a lot of creeks and water flows teeming with life. we also got to see the coastal plants which we saw earlier on in the course. Lastly, we also got to go down a gigantic ladder in some random place in the forest. It looked like something the Ewoks would have made.

In honor of the ladder which we saw that day, we will be investigating plants that resemble what Ewoks would use/eat. Let the tour of Endor begin!

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So in order to investigate the Ewok way of life, we must first find the Ewoks! As it turns out, the best way to find an Ewok is by looking for the trail plant! The trail plant is very interesting because it has a triangular looking leaf with a white underside to it. In addition, when something walks by it, that white underside will turn over, making it very conspicuous. As a result, the best way to find an Ewok is to find one of these herbs. The leaf won’t stay like that forever though, so be quick about spotting them! The plant has to conduct photosynthesis after all.

Plant description: The trail plant is a dioecious perennial herb and 3 – 10 dm long. The stem is erect but all of them are basal and they appear to be pretty low to the ground. They are usually found near fallen logs or other clearings. The leaf shape is ovate to triangular. The petioles of the leaf are exceptionally long and winged. The abaxial side of the leaf is tomentose, giving it a white looking appearance. The adaxial side is generally glabrous. The base of the leaf is truncate. Lastly, the inflorescence has small phyllaries and come in heads which appear to be panicle-like.

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So after finding the Ewok home base, you must be very careful to prostrate yourself and make sure you seem as least threatening as possible. Although they may seem cute, they are EXTREMELY ferocious when they need to be. The arrows they shoot at you may seem small and cute at first, but after having a thousand of them thrown at you WILL hurt. Trust me. In order to appease the Ewoks when you arrive, I would suggest finding some nice and ripe salmonberries. Those little monkey squirrel things will gobble those up! They generally resemble raspberries except you can tell if the berries are ripe because they will turn an orange color which resembles salmon roe.

 

Don’t feel like sharing with Ewoks? That’s all right! There is a traditional dish up in Alaska called akutaq which consists of liquid animal fat (maybe seal blubber), salmonberries and fish meat all mashed up together. DELICIOUS. If by some mystery you don’t happen to like this meal then no fret! word around the block is that it also makes a nice tea that is good for settling the stomach.

Plant description: The habit of the plant is a generally stout shrub which can grow to be a sizeable 4 meters high. The stems are relatively slender with occasional thorns. The leaflets are compound and appear to come in pairs of three. The shape of the leaf is widely ovate. The margins of the leaf are coarsely double-toothed. The tip is acuminate. The inflorescence is axillary with one to two flowers. They are usually found in moist areas and on the edges of woodlands.

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In many scenes of the movie Starwars, the Ewoks are often depicted amongst a heavy thicket of ferns! We can only assume that this means the Ewoks adore ferns! As a result, I would suggest making a basket out of the five-fingered maidenhair fern and using that to carry your offering of salmonberries. They will be very impressed by your handiwork!

Although I jokingly say to make a basket out of this fern, I’m also not actually kidding. Native Americans used to use this wiry fern to weave baskets! Make no mistake though, it’s very hard to do! Native Americans also used to it is for a variety of other ailments, including rheumatoids, but today it is generally not recommended to use it for anything else besides a garden. This fern is perhaps one of the most popular to use in garden arrangements as its tiny spreading leaves generally pair well with broad-leaved plants.

Plant description: The overall habit of the plant is that the fronds come in very distinctive spreading units. Although the name of the plant is the 5 fingered frond, there can be more or less than 5. The pinnas (leaflets) of the ferns are also distinctively thin, small and dainty looking. The stipes of the fern are usually reddish brown. There are usually 4-6 soori per pinnule. Lastly, each soori has a false indusium to protect it.