Butterflies are Happy “Indian Dream Meadow” is Still Blooming

courting pair of western tiger swallowtails on mock-orange

I watched this courting pair of western tiger swallowtails on mock-orange for quite some time, wishing I hadn’t damaged my new camera with its much better video to fully capture their lovely pas de deux.

Back in May (see From the Minute to the Majestic), John Koenig and I went to explore a rocky meadow I’d discovered last fall off of Road 1714, a little southwest of Patterson Mountain. We decided to call it “Indian Dream Meadow” because of the abundance of Indian dream fern (Aspidotis densa). On Saturday, July 23, I went back to this neat spot to see what else was in bloom.

farewell-to-spring is a glorious finale for low to moderate elevation meadows.

Farewell-to-spring is a glorious finale for low to moderate elevation meadows.

While it was pretty late in the season for this elevation (~3800′), there was still plenty to see. The showiest flower was definitely farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena), its gorgeous pink flowers mostly decorated with bright lipstick red blotches. Showy tarweed (Madia elegans) was also still blooming well but was unfortunately closed for the day. I’ve started a patch in my own meadow by tossing seed. It has been blooming for two months, thanks in part to the 1.5″ of rain we got in mid July. The flowers are open every morning but close soon after the sun hits them. At the end of the day, when they are back in the shade, the same flowers unfurl (For more about showy tarweed, check out Travis Owen’s terrific recent post at The Amateur Anthecologist). Clarkia species seem to be on the opposite schedule, closing at night and opening in the morning. Only on an overcast day might one get a photo of both in bloom at the same time. That would be a lovely sight.

Rattan's penstemon has a distinctive long and hairy staminode.

Rattan’s penstemon looks like it is sticking its tongue out at you.

Up in the woods, I found some pretty Rattan’s penstemon (Penstemon rattanii), an uncommon species that occurs mostly in shady spots in southwestern Oregon. It is covered with sticky glandular hairs and has a distinctive long and very hairy staminode. I went to check the small roses we saw at the edge of the upper woods on our previous trip. Alas, they showed no sign that they had or would bloom this year. I later compared some of their leaves and stems to the ground rose (Rosa spithamea) at Mutton Meadow, southeast of Hills Creek Reservoir, which had bloomed, and they look very similar. In the Flora of North America description of ground rose, it says, “Rosa spithamea is fire-adapted and blooms profusely only after fires or equivalent disturbances; at other times, it persists in the understory in a vegetative state.” This would certainly explain why none of the plants had bloomed this year. I wonder how long it will take before they bloom, and I can see if they have the glandular hips of ground rose. If I’m right, this would be the most northerly sighting for the species. If not, then I’m stumped!

monkeyflower still going in the seep

Monkeyflower and rosy plectritis still going in the seep

In the seepy area in the middle of the meadow, there was still a trickle of water. Rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) and monkeyflowers (formerly Mimulus guttatus, now Erythranthe sp., which one I’m not sure) were still hanging on in the wettest spots, although they were fully in seed along the edges. White hyacinth cluster-lily (Triteleia hyacinthina) was in fading bloom, while deep purple elegant cluster-lily (Brodiaea elegans) was in its prime.

A California sister enjoying mock-orange

A California sister enjoying mock-orange

A California sister caught my eye while nectaring in this wet area. Attempting to photograph it, I followed it downhill to the edge of the woods where a large mock-orange (Philadelphus lewisii) was still in bloom. Apparently this was the place to be for butterflies. At least five western tiger swallowtails were enjoying the fragrant flowers, along with a clodius parnassian, a snowberry checkerspot, a fritillary of some sort, a propertius duskywing, and a small skipper. It was particularly steep in front of the shrubs, but I managed to stay balanced on the rocks for a half an hour enjoying the show. I had not brought my lunch since I thought I’d only be in the meadow for a couple of hours before heading over to Patterson Mountain, but I was having such a good time, I didn’t leave until my stomach demanded I head back the car at close to 2pm. I’m already looking forward to visiting this beautiful spot next spring.

 

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