Since it is such an easy trip for me to go to Eagles Rest near Dexter, I’ve been trying to track the season of bloom from start to finish this year. It was moving very slowly at first, but I figured things were moving along a little faster now, and it was high time to get back up there. So yesterday afternoon (June 24), my husband, Jim, and I made a quick trip up there. Mostly Jim napped while I explored, but he seemed to enjoy the chance to relax. I can’t sit still for very long when there are flowers in bloom. It does finally seem to be peak season up there. The most unusual plant there is cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus), and it was in perfect bloom. This plant puzzles me because it is so widely scattered with no apparent pattern in its distribution (click here for OFP Atlas). Each population also differs from the others, at least in their blossoms. I’ve only seen it in three other sites in Oregon: Horse Rock Ridge, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Browder Ridge. On Horse Rock Ridge, the flowers are quite large and showy. Those at Rattlesnake Mountain don’t even have rays and look more like little yellow buttons. At 6600′, Rattlesnake Mountain is far higher than Horse Rock Ridge or Eagles Rest, both near 3000′ elevation. And it grows on both sides of the Cascades. If only plants could talk!
I finally got to see some paintbrush in bloom that I’d seen on one of the earlier trips. Its narrow leaves didn’t look like the more common harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), with its wide, well lobed leaves, which was also blooming yesterday. Indeed these others were frosted paintbrush (C. pruinosa), which has deeply cut calices that resemble a snake’s tongue, whereas the calyx of harsh paintbrush has shallow, rounded lobes. With a handlens, I was also able to see a few of the characteristic forked hairs on the frosted paintbrush, but in our area, these are not as evident as they are to the south where it is more common. The paintbrushes in this part of Lane County, including nearby Mt. June, often show intermediate characteristics between the two species, so I’ve been studying them in this area for some time now, guessing there’s some hybridizing going on.
There was also a lovely show of the tiny white flowers of Minuartia tenella, a delicate upland prairie annual I rarely see. I was interested to discover that just like Horse Rock Ridge, where Sabine and I saw it on Wednesday (along with the pretty Minuartia), the Phacelia linearis here is lavender. This is the normal color in its main range, east of the Cascades, but in the Western Cascades, it is usually white. Another mystery. The Fritillaria affinis were going to seed, with just a few remaining flowers, but the Mimulus guttatus I photographed a month ago was still blooming strong, the cool weather no doubt keeping it happily moist. I was very pleased to see several small patches of Mimulus pulsiferae. This apparently rare species turned up a lot in last year’s cool spring, so I figured it might be more evident this year as well. Sabine and I also saw it on our trip earlier in the week at the bridge over Staley Creek where we stopped to soak our feet after our tiring climb on “Mosaic Rock”.
Another, more surprising, find was a single plant of Woodsia scopulina. At first glance it is easy to confuse with the ubiquitous fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis). This may be why it isn’t spotted very often. As we were climbing down a narrow spot next to a large rock, it caught my eye growing in a crack along with goldback fern (Pentagramma triangularis) and Indian dream fern (Aspidotis densa). I’ve searched for this enough, especially at Cloverpatch (see First Trip to Cloverpatch in 4 Years), that the slightly different gestalt grabs my attention. The little fronds are a bit more substantial and somewhat duller due to a light coating of hairs. This plant was above my head but by teetering on the side of the rock face, I was able to get some photos of it (this is where the movable LCD screen really comes in handy!). I couldn’t get my face close enough to look at it with the hand lens, and I wasn’t about to pick any part of a single spindly plant. But it is indeed hairy and the sporangia are correct for Woodsia. Most of this huge rock is out of reach and out of sight, so hopefully there are more plants hiding nearby.