On July 31st, I decided to make one last trip to Tire Mountain to look at the final wave of flowers and collect some seeds. I was especially hoping to get seeds of the late-blooming farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena) while still seeing some fresh flowers, but I was surprised that hardly any seeds were ripe, and there were many buds still in evidence—on the last day of July! I’ve gotten a few started at home, but since they are annuals, I need a large enough population to be able to keep themselves going. Most other plants were in seed, and I was able to collect a number of species, including several biscuitroot (Lomatium dissectum, L. utriculatum, and L. nudicaule), my favorite bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata), rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta), and Oregon fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum).
In the large dike meadow, I headed up to the ridge and over to the north side where many fawn lilies and glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) bloom in the spring. The temperature felt 10° cooler the second I reached the crest and the breeze hit me coming over the ridge. This is one reason some different plants grow up here. I’ve been up here many, many times, so I was really surprised to be able to add a new species to my list. I counted at least 40 flat-spurred piperia (Platanthera [Piperia] transversa) coming into bloom all through the open, rocky woods on the north side of the ridge. I’d seen the more common, green-flowered species, Alaska rein orchid (P. unalascensis), back in early July 2009, but these all had the white lips and long spurs of P. transversa. Eventually I discovered 3 completely finished stalks. My best guess is that P. unalascensis blooms early than transversa. Having never seen them blooming together in the same area, I didn’t realize this. This is a good example of why it is worth going out to your favorite places after the peak bloom is over.
I was kicking myself that my camera was in the bag while I was collecting some seeds when I looked up to see a rufous hummingbird drinking from elegant cluster-lilies (Brodiaea elegans) about 6 feet in front of me. By the time I got the camera out and turned on, it had moved higher up the slope, although it was still darting from one deep purple blossom to the next. It occasionally stopped at the attractive pink of the farewell-to-spring but quickly decided those flowers were too flat for their long beaks.
There were barely any butterflies out and not too many flowers, but I still enjoyed looking at the wide variety of fruits and seed capsules. I thought those might be of interest to others as most people enjoy the diversity of wildflowers but rarely notice how many ways they have come up with to reproduce themselves.