While backpacking in the Trinity Alps just northwest of Redding, CA we hiked into an alpine meadow around 12,000 feet and saw something we’d never seen before. (Or had we?)
These delicate and whimsical wildflowers stood out in contrast against the white mountains and red boulders, and were unlike any other plant in the surrounding area… we had to have closer look. After some inspection and later research, we learned that it was the seed head of the Pulsatilla occidentalis or Western Pasque Flower. This herbaceous plant has finely textured fern-like leaves, and pushes out white flowers that are later followed by silky seed heads that float on stems about 18 inches above the ground. Found at high elevations, the Western Pasque Flower can be seen throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alberta.
So where had I seen this unique plant before?
I remember reading The Lorax by Dr. Seuss when I was young, illustrated with brightly colored plants called Truffula Trees. Just like the Western Pasque Flower, these trees sprouted feathery and whimsical-looking tops that were much larger and tree-sized.
Theodore Seuss spent the last 40 years of his life in northern California. I wonder if these miniature plants could have played a part in his inspiration for the infamous Truffula Trees we know and love from The Lorax?