If anybody knows what this plant is named, let me know. It’s one of my favorite high-mountain plants.
I don’t even know if it’s a shrub or a perennial. It has the hard green stems that say they might turn woody with time, although they don’t. It comes only to my ankles, but so does pinemat manzanita, and that’s a shrub.
I looked assiduously through two books, with many false alarms when I thought I’d identified it. Then I’d look at the actual plant. Nope.
It can also grow in amongst other plants, where it seems to stretch out a little, in order to get its share of sun.
And it’s also taught me this lesson: a plant doesn’t have to be glamorous or big or unusual to be a beautiful presence. I’ve never seen this plant flowering (maybe if I had, I would have been able to identify it), so I don’t know if it has gorgeous blossoms. It doesn’t have exciting bark or unusual foliage; it’s not large or full. All I have seen is its leaves going from the brightish green of summer to the blazing yellow of fall. Morning sun lighting it up by the rocks makes it one of the most soul-satisfying sights of my mountain day-and a mountain day has many contenders for soul-satisfying sights.
Names come after the knowing of a plant, not before. I know this plant a little, and looking for its name has gotten me better acquainted. I looked at it more carefully, examined its structure and form, and thought about it in relation to other plants.
Since many things in life are a mystery, I’m not unhappy with the way things are, between me and this plant. Not all mysteries are meant to be solved.