Archive for July, 2008
Sabine and I went to Lowder Mountain yesterday and had a very productive and enjoyable day (other than all the overgrown foliage being wet and soaking me for much of the day and lots of trees down on the trail). My main goal was to find a way to get a better look at the plants growing on the massive cliffs at the top—without killing myself. I was successful and found several open areas on the ridge farther west (thanks to GoogleEarth) and some places in the woods where I could go down a bit and get a better viewing angle at the nearby rocks. I was able to confirm 2 plants I had guessed by general gestalt from 100′ away with binoculars in the past. Both Dodecatheon pulchellum and Heuchera merriamii do indeed grow on those cliffs. The DODPUL was in seed but I was able to touch it. The Heuchera merriamii was in full bloom. Though still just seen from binoculars, I was a lot closer, and I’m now positive of the ID. In addition, I found Erigeron cascadensis, Trifolium productum, Epilobium glaberrimum fastigiatum, and an Arnica (not latifolia) on the rocks. And lots more Campanula rotundifolia, just coming into bloom. No more gentians however, although they were just starting at the rock garden on the ridge which is otherwise dried out.
We made several other additions to the list elsewhere on the trail, but the big one was that Sabine’s sharp eyes spotted Gilia capillaris in the meadow where the trail has an intersection and you turn to go up to the top of Lowder. I was quite surprised to see it there among the more common belly plants like Galium bifolium, Navarretia divaricata, Phlox gracilis, Polygonums (cascadense and kelloggioides) and Gayophytums. It is quite common in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. I saw it at all 3 sites I visited last week there. But I’ve never seen it in Lane County before, and it isn’t on the Lane County Checklist. I seem to remember being told that someone had seen it at Moon Point. I would have been much less surprised to see it there in southern Lane County than up at Lowder. It has such delicate linear leaves, I can’t imagine noticing it out of bloom. Now that it is blooming, we should keep our eyes open for it in open ground habitat in Western Cascade meadows. It’s a cutie! It’s usually white to ice blue, but there are some pinky purple ones at Abbott Butte.
Also, the bloom is especially great up at the top of Lowder. There are small snowbanks left in the woods on the outer edges of the giant meadow and moonscape area (still some Mertensia bella and Mitella breweri blooming in a recently melted area). The giant population of Polygonum newberryi (Aconogonum davisae) is starting to bloom (it smells wonderful!), the gazillion Eremogone (Arenaria) pumicola are going full steam, and there is a ton of Calyptridium and Nothocalais alpestris. The other meadows along the trail are largely filled with blooming thimbleberry and Ligusticum, but the Lilium columbianum, Aquilegia formosa, and Ipomopsis aggregata are very nice as well. The first Kyhosia bolanderi are opening in the tiny wetland so I suspect they are blooming now at Quaking Aspen as well. After all the bushwhacking, there was no time to go down there for a peek.
Today Clay, Gail, John, and I went to check out Hells Half Acre. The way things have been going, my expectations weren’t very high. But after we saw 4 handsome bull elk on the road on the way up, I felt maybe my luck had changed. I was right. We had a terrific and productive day.
First off, the trail is a go. No problem getting to the trailhead. There is still lots of snow in places on the lower parts of the trail. It is only along the edges of the lower meadows and there are lots of glacier lilies, Anemone lyallii, and also Dicentra uniflora, some still in bud. There should still be some snow melt species in 9 days under what is now snow. Lots of other things coming along as well. There is a very snowy area right after the lower meadows and it may be that the group will be split up and only some people go to the upper meadow. The other bad news is that it is very buggy in the woods, but it is fine out in the open meadows. I was there on June 9th in 2004 when the flowers were pretty similar but there was less snow (though still lots remaining in the one bad spot) and no bugs. I suspect this will be an unusual year in that respect as well.
Only one tiny patch of snow was left in the upper meadow. The Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Ranunculus gormanii, and Mertensia paniculata were very pretty and there were lots of other nice things budding up. After we ate, John spotted some lovely Fritillaria affinis in bloom, a very nice addition to the list. Viola macloskeyi was another one I hadn’t seen there before. After admiring the grand show of shooting stars, we crossed to the west side of the meadow. Clay pointed out another Fritillary in bud. I immediately got excited because I was pretty sure it was Fritillaria atropurpurea, not affinis, and I’d never seen it nor heard of it in Lane County. We started searching for more and eventually found around 15 in bloom and another 20 or so in bud or just vegetative. It was REALLY hard to spot them in the grass. Clay and Gail were much better at it than I was. They were indeed F. atropurpurea, with smaller, more widely flaring flowers and extremely narrow, glaucous leaves. I’m thrilled. I’ve only seen it in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide and once along the Metolius. There are no records for it in Lane County on the OFP Atlas. We did not want to collect any.
For anyone wanting to check out the trail later, it looks like it will be a great beargrass year, there were many in bud, and later in the summer there is Parnassia cirrata and Kyhosia bolanderi to see.