July Blooms at Tire Mountain

The main color throughout the meadows was provided by yellow Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), creamy white northern buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum), and pink farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena), which was just beginning its showstopping display. While some areas were already dried out, others, such as here at the east end of the dike meadow, were still gorgeous.

A few harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) plants were still in glorious bloom as was this plant down the slope of the first big view meadow.

On July 3, I went to Tire Mountain to look at late flowers and collect some seeds of early flowering plants. I was surprised at how much was still in bloom. I had a lovely day getting to know other wildflower-loving hikers and cavorting with butterflies and did some exploring down the steep slope of the view meadow on the north end, something I’d been meaning to do for quite some time. Along with checkerspots, acmon blues were abundant. Their host food plants are buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.), which were at peak bloom. What was surprising was how friendly they were. Not once, not twice, but three times over the course of the day, an acmon blue landed on my arm and started sipping. It sure makes it easier to get a close up photograph! Here are some of the photographic highlights.

Although he occasionally moved from one arm to the next or from my sleeve to a finger, the first acmon blue stayed with me for 15 minutes! He was very fresh with beautiful scintillae (reflective scales) on his hindwings.

At some point I decided I’d resume my seed collecting in spite of my passenger. It didn’t seem to disturb him at all!

The second acmon blue was much rattier than the first. His sparkly scintillae were mostly gone.

An hour later, another acmon blue showed up while I was sitting atop the ridge in the dike meadow chatting with some other hikers.

Blues weren’t the only butterflies on the wing, this beautiful tiger swallowtail found northern buckwheat to be a great nectar plant.

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