Manroot: Morah oreganus

Manroot Morah oreganus

Found this peculiar little bugger on the trail leading up to the Lewis and Clark interpretive center in Ilwaco, Washington. It’s really not little, though!

What struck me first was its hand-size leaves  wrapped around an old-growth Sitka spruce situated on a steep hill. It’s rare to see plants in the forest that resemble those in the garden, so I came to a hard stop to inspect. Was it a wild squash of some kind?

Unfortunately, its impressive leaves were too large to fit into tiny plant press, so I settled for pictures.

After a few moments of observation, I noticed a strange, spiky fruit hanging from the manroot’s vines. I didn’t touch because I had no idea if the thing was toxic. It certainly didn’t look like it was screaming, “see me, feel me, touch me, hold me”.

Further observation led to the discovery of opened “man fruits”, one of which still had an empty seed membrane hanging from inside it’s peeled back skin. It was kind of gross looking to me, actually. But fascinating nonetheless.

The source had this to say about this strange plant:

Climbing perennial from swollen, woody roots; stems leafy, trailing or climbing, with unbranded, coiled tendrils.

Although I didn’t see its roots and am unable to verify the description with my own eyes, it’s easy to imagine the plant is aptly named based on that description. :]

Source: Pojar and MacKinnon, Revised: Plants of the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska, 2004, Lone Pine Publishing, page 327

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