Archive for August, 2009
Another report from the Calapooyas. Yesterday, Sabine and I went back to Bristow Prairie. Things looked about the same as they did when we went last year in September, but we wanted to explore the Lane County side this time and to check out the smaller lakes in the woods. Mostly what was in bloom was goldenrod and Klamath weed, so the whole place had a pretty yellow tinge. The Veratrum has had a great bloom year everywhere and there were loads of V. insolitum hanging on as well as the more common viride and a little californicum. Last year on many of my trips it didn’t appear they had bloomed at all.
We headed straight for the main lake. The Sagittaria was in fading bloom as were the pond lilies. There was also still some Potamogeton epihydrus (I’m pretty sure of the species) with some flowers. I thought I’d seen that last year, but it was disappearing then so I wasn’t sure. We didn’t spend much time looking around the surrounding wetland, but I did see a few Spiranthes stellata and a large area of Stellaria obtusa. We saw lots more of that in damp shady areas as we continued. I had S. crispa on my list, so that was a misidentification. Unfortunately, not only did I drag Sabine on a day of nothing but bushwhacking, but I had her bring her rubber boots for the lower lakes and she lost one, and then we didn’t even need them as things were drying out. We tried but could not find it. I hope to get back earlier next year to see peak bloom. Maybe the boot will reappear when the foliage isn’t so tall!
We found the lower two lakes without too much trouble although we went back a much easier way than we went down. They are only about 500′ from the bottom of the meadow. The animals obviously know the best way between the lakes and the meadow, so we followed their trail back up. The lower lakes are quite pretty. They are maybe 100′ apart and yet they didn’t have the same plants in them. The south one has tons of Sagittaria cuneata and pond lilies. The north has loads of Menyanthes trifoliata and some pond lilies but no Sagittaria. The bad news is that the southern pond is in Douglas County and the northern one in Lane. I found a swampy area just south of the south pond with a colony of Listera convallarioides. There were also a couple of plants with large, somewhat hairy, palmate leaves that I wouldn’t have guessed were Geranium richardsonii if I hadn’t just seen them blooming a few days before at Skipper Lakes. I double-checked my photos of the Geranium as well as similar plants like Trautvetteria that might be in that habitat, and it is definitely the Geranium. That of course is also on the Douglas County side. The interesting plants seem determined to stay out of Lane County! Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been exploring the Calapooyas of late, and a couple of days ago I went to Skipper Lakes on the south side of the Calapooya crest at the base of Balm Mountain, less than 3 air miles south of Loletta Lakes where I was a few days before. The lakes themselves weren’t nearly as productive, and the area around them not nearly as wet as I expected, but I did find some unusual things. Not so surprisingly, given the close proximity to Loletta Lakes where I just discovered it, I found 2 separate areas of Oxypolis occidentalis. Also Geranium richardsonii in fading bloom, Horkelia fusca, loads of Stellaria obtusa (also some S. crispa and S. borealis, they’re popping up everywhere now that I’m paying attention). There was also quite a bit of Ribes erythrocarpum in fruit. I noticed a specimen from there on the OFP Atlas but have not found any other list for Skipper Lakes. It’s hard to imagine that the Roseburg Herbarium ladies didn’t do a list for this pretty trail. I didn’t think they missed much.It must be beautiful earlier in the season near the south trailhead as it was filled with Balsamorhiza deltoidea, Linum lewisii, and Ipomopsis aggregata. The big trees in the woods are nice too. It looks like a lot of incense cedars are crowding the openings however. It’s a nice trail, too bad it requires so many miles of gravel.
I’ve been waiting all summer to get back to exploring the Calapooyas, so yesterday I went up Coal Creek Road to Bradley Lake and Loletta Lakes. Most of this is in Douglas County, but it is all on the north side of the Calapooya crest and in the Willamette National Forest (just barely). They really ought to have run the county line along the Calapooya Divide.
I made a couple of quick detours on my way up to check on the Piperias. Youngs Flat Picnic Area was filled with people camping, but luckily they seem to be leaving the woods on the north side alone. The Piperia elongata are still blooming pretty well, although past peak. I also checked the woods across from Mutton Meadow where I’d seen about 30 Piperia plants in the spring. I managed to find 5 flower stalks. Only 2 had any flowers left. I’m pretty sure they’re P. transversa as they looked white with straight spurs. It also makes sense because they start blooming a bit earlier than elongata, so should be farther along than the P. elongata at nearby Youngs Flat.
When John and I went up Coal Creek Rd in early July, the road was a bit of a mess, lots of branches and rocks. Looks like the road has been cleaned up and even graded. I was thrilled about this until I got up to the base of the cliffs where the Epilobium luteum was in full bloom. It looks like they pushed some of the gravel right into the wet ditch and scraped some of the ditch as well. There were slashed branches. There’s still a lot of good habitat, but this is really upsetting. I don’t know what the official status of Epilobium luteum is, but this is probably the biggest population I’ve seen, and there are loads of other pretty things like Claytonia cordifolia in there. I hate to see them buried in dirt. I’m also concerned about messing with the water flow all these plants depend upon.
I’m finally back doing Lane County sites and thought some of you might be interested in my trip yesterday to O’Leary Mountain. All that rock on the top that you can see from Horsepasture has been calling me for years. I did the old trail along the front in 2006 and also went part way up the ridge another time, but this time I went up before doing Horsepasture, so I wouldn’t run out of time. I dragged Jim with me and unfortunately it was a lot cloudier up there than it was when we left home, so the view was limited and the lighting pretty bad. The last time he came with me we had the same bad luck. No wonder he doesn’t hike with me very often. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the botany pace! Still, I accomplished my small missions. One was to reach the summit, and the other was to find the Minuartia rubella that Hickman listed for O’Leary. There is also a more recent vouchered specimen from Herm Fitz in 1979.
To get to the top, you just stay as close to the ridge as possible. The north slope is too covered with thimbleberries and other shrubs to plow through. There is a lot of open rocky habitat along the ridge, and it is filled with wonderful plants. Only asters, Columbiadoria, goldenrod, and a few stray flowers of earlier blooming stuff were left. Next year I must go up and see them when they are still in bloom. At the very top, we climbed over the ridge to the south side outcrops. I found 3 more plants of Heuchera merriamii there. I reported it from the north-facing talus slope of O’Leary several years ago, but those pictures are gone, so I had no proof of them up there anymore. There’s also a little Trifolium kingii var. productum which is also on Horsepasture.
There are a number of plants of Minuartia rubella scattered around the top of O’Leary. While their leaves are still quite green, they are all in seed (I collected some and pray they germinate!) and so covered with dry flower stalks that from a distance they look like small beige puffs. This is only the second place I’ve ever seen Minuartia rubella. I know it is listed for a number of sites, but other than Mt. June where it is fairly common, I simply haven’t been able to find it.
I’ve never been to Rebel Rock, but Hickman also lists it at Bohemia, Browder Ridge, and Three Pyramids, and there are several specimens and reports from the great Cone Peak/Iron Mtn area. I’ve looked but never managed to relocate it at any of those sites. I climbed Lamb Butte once, where Bruce & company have a sighting, but I wasn’t looking for it at the time.
I know I’ve brought this up before, but has anyone seen this cutie anywhere other than at Mt. June? I just don’t think there is very much of it around in the Cascades. Hickman’s sightings are old, and the Douglas County and Devil’s Peak specimens are even older. I sure would like to find some more. Maybe it is disappearing.
Here is a photo of some fully double Delphinium glaucum that were blooming on Grizzly Peak in Ashland on Monday. My friend Kelley spotted them while I was taking photographs. There were at least 3 plants mixed in with a large regular population near the end of its bloom season. They were forming seed capsules, but we didn’t find any as large as the ones on the regular plants, so maybe they won’t be viable. But then again, there were several plants scattered about, so I don’t know how else they were propagating. Maybe the population is genetically prone to doubles.
They were attracting lots of butterflies and a clearwing (hummingbird) moth. The day before, at Hershberger Mountain, there were oodles of hummingbirds in a large stand of Delphinium glaucum. How I wish I could grow this at home! My seeds germinate, but they always get eaten by slugs or someone. I pressed one stalk for the OSU Herbarium. I don’t see how anyone can press a plant that can be 8 feet tall (I measured one this high!).
My last trip of the year to Grizzly Peak turned out to be more about insects than plants. I can’t remember ever seeing such a variety of insects in one day. Kelley and I should have realized what a good insect day it was going to be when we met a bee expert in the parking area as soon as we arrived. We had seen some enormous bumble bees on our previous trip in late June, so we were sure he was in the right place for his research.
Along with bees, Grizzly Peak is an excellent site to look for butterflies. We saw quite a few as we passed through the various habitats. The gorgeous and statuesque Delphinium glaucum might not appear to be attractive to butterflies, but large butterflies that can reach their proboscis into the long spurs seemed exceedingly pleased with the stands blooming in openings in the woods near the beginning of the trail. We saw Western tiger swallowtails, anise swallowtails, great spangled fritillaries—both the golden brown males and the striking females with their deep chocolate brown and contrasting cream-bordered wings. There were even a few skippers and a clearwinged bee-like moth.
My favorite of the day were the lovely female blue coppers. Their caterpillar host plant is Eriogonum, no shortage of sustenance for them there with four different species. The most unusual is Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, an East side plant. It is found in the burned western end of the summit. The female coppers were nectaring on these buckwheats. I love the subtle beauty of both of their gold-tinged colors and how they work so well together. The female, like many coppers, is brown on top, while the upperside of the stunning male is vibrant blue. You can tell the male blue copper from true blues by the prominent black veins across the blue.