Harperspark Anniversary

Two boys cleaning up a forest trail using garbage pickers.

It’s been three years since we joined Coquitlam’s Park Spark team! We haven’t updated this website often in the past three years, but we have been in Harper Park almost every day since becoming Park Sparks in March 2021 (being outside in nature is more fun than writing blog posts). Since we started cleaning up the park, lots of other families have joined us, so we’re now just cleaning the Northeastern sections of the park (from Highland up Rock Trail, across Flywheel and Harper Road, and down Smiling Creek Trail).

Black-tailed deer

Juvenile black-tailed deer
Juvenile black-tailed deer in Harper Park.

This juvenile black-tailed deer was spotted crossing the Dollar Trail, looking back at the two does up the trail.

(We sometimes see deer in the brush by the creek; they may have been disturbed by the arborists chipping the hemlocks that fell across the stairs near the Flywheel trail.)

My Tier List of the Berries in Harper Park

Here are the edible berries I have found in Harper Park







(Note from my mom: some berries are only for the birds and the bears and can be poisonous for us. Be careful, and don’t use my blog post as your guide!)

Here is my tier list of them:

#1 Thimbleberries

A ripe one tastes amazing and melts in your mouth

#2 Huckleberries

Per bush there are at least 20 – 50 Huckleberries and its pretty hard to find one that tastes bad

#3 Blackberries

There are not that many ripe ones but if they are they are very good

(Another note from my mom: these are California Blackberries, which we know as ground blackberries. They are the native ones.)

#4 Salmonberries

They taste okay not the best there are a lot of them in Harper park but usually not ripe

#5 Blueberries

Again I whould rank the higher but they are not ripe

#6 Elderberries

Even if they are ripe they are disgusting

One vicious plant; The Devil’s club

The Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) is a distinctive plant native to the forests of North America, specifically in the Pacific Northwest region, which includes notable areas like Harper Park.

A fully grown devil's club found in Juneau Alaska. The plant has flowered and produced fruit
A devil’s club found in Juneau, Alaska

About the Devil’s Club

Reaching heights of 1 to 3 meters (3 to 9 feet), the Devil’s Club stands tall as a deciduous shrub. Its most striking attribute is its dense covering of yellow spines that extend along the stems and leaves. These spines serve as a potent defense mechanism, deterring herbivores and protecting the plant from potential damage. The sharp spines can cause irritation and itching when they come into contact with the skin, earning the plant its intriguing name.

In addition to its thorny armor, the Devil’s Club boasts remarkably large leaves, measuring between 20 and 40 centimeters in diameter (8 to 15 inches). The impressive leaf size serves multiple purposes for the plant’s survival and growth. Firstly, the larger surface area allows for greater light absorption, maximizing the plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis. By capturing more sunlight, the Devil’s Club can produce higher levels of energy, supporting its overall health and development.

Moreover, the expansive leaves play a crucial role in water retention. In the shaded understory environment where the Devil’s Club often thrives, capturing sufficient moisture can be challenging. However, the plant’s sizable leaves enable it to collect and retain water from various sources such as rainfall, dew, and humidity. This adaptive feature ensures a steady water supply, contributing to the plant’s resilience and ability to survive in its habitat.

A birds eye view of the devil's club.

During the spring season, the Devil’s Club produces distinctive flowers. Starting as white and green blossoms, these clusters of flowers eventually transform into vibrant red berries during the summer months. The bright red berries serve as a valuable food source for local wildlife, including bears and birds. These animals play an essential role in seed dispersal, helping to propagate the Devil’s Club across the forest landscape.

In Harper Park

As far as i’ve seen, there is only one shrub of the Devil’s Club that i have seen this year in the park, but i am sure that more will come in following time.

In conclusion, the Devil’s Club is a remarkable shrub found in the forests of the Pacific Northwest region. Its unique attributes, including the spiny exterior, large leaves, and striking flowers and berries, contribute to its distinctiveness and ecological significance. Despite its challenging nature, the Devil’s Club coexists with its environment, providing food and shelter for wildlife while offering cultural and medicinal value to human communities.

Learn more about the Devil’s Club;


Snails’ Pace

We’re in the park daily—sometimes twice a day—but we have been posting at the pace of this Pacific Sideband snail! More to come as we ease into summer schedules.

Pacific Sideband Monadenia fidelis