By the time we bought our property here, the once beautifully landscaped yard had been allowed to slide back towards wilderness—plants like hardhack have been invading what started out as open spaces. As a result, when clearing back bush for one reason or another, we sometimes find something that had been buried in brush. (We found a smoke bush that way.)
Today, while cutting it back to access a tree that I wanted to tie a rope to, I suddenly realized that what I was stepping on was not (for a change) hardhack or salal or brambles. It was Something Else.
So I cleared more than I’d originally intended, and uncovered this. It was literally crawling along the ground under brambles and hardhack to get a few leaves into the light.
So far my best guess is that it’s a Douglas maple (acer glabrum). It doesn’t quite match descriptions and images in my field guides, but that could be accounted for by its struggle for survival. I guess I’ll see if it produces flowers and then what happens in the fall and if it produces any maple keys.
Whatever it is, it was fun to find it so unexpectedly.