On Tuesday, May 14, I spent a lovely afternoon enjoying the fresh flowers of spring in the newly melted out wet meadows of Patterson Mountain. The long drought was making the rock outcrops too depressing, so after a late start due to the morning fog, I thought Patterson Mountain would be a perfect place to forget about how dry everything had become (hopefully the last couple of days of showers has moistened things up at least a little bit). Some nice people had cleared out both the road and the trail already (thank you!), even though there were still patches of snow in several places. I was pleased to see there was still a little snow because I was really looking forward to seeing the early blooming buttercups. I was not disappointed. The mountain buttercup (Ranunculus populago) was in its prime and putting on a great show. This beautiful flower is usually seen to the north, with the smaller Gorman’s buttercup (R. gormanii) filling the buttercup niche in most wetlands in Lane and Douglas counties. I spent quite a while taking photographs and looking the perfect plant where the leaf shapes were not hidden by surrounding plants. I did at last find what I was looking for. The only thing that would have made it better was a frog in the photo. I’ve taken photos of frogs among the buttercups before, and I did see a few on this trip but not next to the buttercups. The name Ranunculus is derived from Rana, the latin name from frog, so it just seems appropriate to sneak one into the photo. Read the rest of this entry »
Last year, I discovered what is currently the northernmost known site for the lovely Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). I purposely did not write about it in my report about Heavenly Bluff, A Heavenly New Site in Lane County, because it has been considered a rare plant, and the Oregon Flora Project and Oregon Biodiversity Information Center had been withholding location data for the reported sites. Evidently there are enough populations now that their locations are no longer withheld, so I guess I needn’t be so circumspect.
Fawn lilies, fairy slippers, fritillaries, and phlox were the floral highlights of my trip to Heckletooth Mountain on Saturday (May 4). I’m sure there’s something clever to be written with that wonderful alliteration, but my brain isn’t at its best lately, and I’m a bit out of practice writing, so this entry may be rather dry. That sounds like a not so clever segue to the weather we’re having. It’s been like summer, and it’s only the first week of May. It even hit 90° at my house yesterday! After the last few years of cold, wet, springs (see Heckletooth Times Two for how miserable it was in 2010), I think we’ve forgotten how warm and dry it can be in May. For a comparison, I went to Heckletooth on May 11, 2007, and my photos from that trip look very similar to this one, with just a few of the perennials not as far along. So it may not be that abnormal. But while this weather has been great for hiking and other outdoor activities, it is really taking its toll on the mossy outcrops I love so much, and I’m about ready to do a rain dance. I fear it is going to be a long, hot, dry summer, with a very real threat of forest fires. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Wednesday, April 3, Nancy Bray and I went to see what was blooming on the cliffs along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. I frequently explore the similar habitat along Hills Creek Reservoir, about 30 miles to the south, but had never spent any time along Cougar Reservoir until last year (see Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir). This is probably in large part because the trails I frequent near Cougar Reservoir (Lowder Mountain, Quaking Aspen Swamp, and Olallie Mountain) are accessed by the road that crosses the dam, missing much of the good habitat along the west side of the reservoir, and by the time the higher elevation blooming season is in gear, the roadside plants are mostly finished. On the other hand, at Hills Creek Reservoir, most of my favorite hikes, including the Calapooya Mountains sites, require that I drive past the roadside cliffs on the west side, which I seem to do on a weekly basis. I’ll have to add Cougar Reservoir to my favorite early season botanizing sites because it is really floriferous and has more seepy cliff than I’ve seen anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry »
The weather forecasters promised a sunny day on Friday (February 15), and, at least in Oakridge, they were right. Nancy Bray and I were looking forward to a break from the gloomy fog we’ve had so much of this winter. So off we headed to Road 21, south of Oakridge, my favorite early season destination and usually the warmest place in eastern Lane County.
For me, the dark and damp winter is usually a time of looking back over the past year and organizing for the coming one. I update my plant lists, catalog my photos, and do some research on plants I’m learning about. I recently finished going through all my photos from 2012 (over 12,000!). Now I’m upgrading the photos in my book, replacing really old photos with newer, better ones from my current camera. I miss the excitement of spring and flowers coming up every day and the thrill of discovering new plants in the mountains. By comparison, computer work is not very exciting, but it is pleasant enough, and it is necessary if I’m going to know which photos I still need to get for the coming year.
So you can imagine my surprise and thrill this morning when I discovered a new plant at Gordon Meadows—and I never even got up out of my chair! I was trying to find a replacement photo for an old one of Anemone oregana. According to my database records, I had taken a good one at Gordon Meadows in June of 2009 (I posted a report about the trip at Aquatics at Gordon Meadows, but it was originally written as an e-mail to some other botanists before I started my website, so it is not as
long-winded thorough as my usual blog entries). I’m still using the same camera from 2008 (Panasonic Lumix FZ50—still love it!), so anything from 2009 is as good as my newest ones. Photos older than 2008 looked good at the time but pale in comparison to the higher resolution newer ones. Upon opening the folder in Bridge (sort of Adobe’s version of iPhoto), I was immediately stunned to see several lovely photos of swamp red currant (Ribes triste), one of my special target plants of the last couple of years. Read the rest of this entry »
Rain at last—what a relief! Not that I wasn’t enjoying the glorious weather we’ve had lately, but things were getting bone dry, the air was dirty, and the roads were terribly dusty (as is my car both outside and in!). On Thursday (October 11—10/11/12 for those of us who love numbers), I went to Tire Mountain to enjoy the weather before the promised rain. It was dry—really dry. It is normal this time of year, especially at that elevation (under 4000′), for most of the meadow plants to be dried out and the woodland plants to be yellowing, but after so many weeks of drought, even the sword ferns—arguably one of our toughest plants—were badly wilted. I’ve been to Tire Mountain in the fall in the past and marveled at the abundance of tiny green seedlings covering the ground. These will be many of the annuals that will put on a show the following spring. Without a drop of water to set them off, the seeds are still dormant in the soil this year. How long it will take for them to germinate now that the rains have started? It might be worth a return trip soon to find out. Read the rest of this entry »
I haven’t been posting much lately. Partly, that is due to my winding down my botanizing as the flowers are also finishing their season. The other reason is that I’ve been exploring some High Cascade wetlands. In the last few weeks I’ve visited Gold Lake Bog, Blue Lake, Hand and Scott lakes, and some interesting unnamed bogs near Little Cultus Lake, an area I’d never investigated before. On Friday (September 14), however, I went back to one of my favorite haunts, and the last one I posted about: Hills Peak. I’ve been wanting to show Molly Juillerat (Middle Fork District botanist) the wonderful lake on the east side of the peak because it is home to lesser bladderwort, one of the rare species the Forest Service monitors (see the previous post). Molly was finally free after fires near Oakridge pulled her away from her other duties, and Nancy was also able to join us.
On Thursday (August 23), John Koenig and I spent a lovely day in the area by Hills Peak. I had been looking forward to showing John one of my favorite areas in the Calapooyas, a part of the Western Cascades that is special to him as well. He “adopted” the Dome Rock wilderness area for Oregon Wild (then ONRC) back in the late ’90s when they were trying to assess all the small unprotected wilderness areas in the state. The day was absolutely gorgeous with none of the heat of the previous week or so and no sign of smoke from any of the small fires in the area.
We started out the day by walking down the old road to the shallow lake to the east of Hills Peak. I didn’t have time to check it out on my earlier trip this year (see Hills Creek to Hills Peak). Although the majority of flowers were finished, there was still plenty to see. Poking around a small wet meadow beside this old road, we found dozens of one-flowered gentians (Gentianopsis simplex), including a few plants whose petals were twice the normal length. There were also a great many starry ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes stellata). I’ve seen these both here before, but one of these days I’ll come back earlier enough to see what must be a lovely display of mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi). Read the rest of this entry »
Many of you know Gerry Carr’s fabulous plant photos that he donates to the Oregon Flora Project Gallery, the WTU Image Collection (the Burke Herbarium’s gallery of Washington plants), and posts on his own site, Oregon Flora Image Project. If you don’t, be sure to click on the links! Trying to photograph almost every species in Oregon is a huge undertaking, and I’ve enjoyed helping Gerry find plants in the Western Cascades that he hasn’t photographed yet. Several species still on his to do list grow in the wonderful area of southeastern Lane County that I spend so much time in. It seemed like it might be the right time to find some of those late blooming plants, so on Friday, August 10, I picked Gerry up in Lowell and headed down along Hills Creek Reservoir yet again.
Our first stop was Moon Point. Last year we spent the whole day at Moon Point (see Moon Point Melting Out), so this trip, we were only heading to the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail, which is easier to access from the top. With thousands of plants to photograph, one must be as efficient as possible! On the way to the trail intersection, I went poking around looking for the rare green-flowered ginger (Asarum wagneri), one of Gerry’s targets last year. I was surprised to find several still in bloom and was thrilled to find a couple of ripe seeds. The common long-tailed ginger (A. caudatum) was also still displaying flowers, and I found plenty of ripe seed. I’ve posted scans of the latter in the Seed Gallery or you can click here to see the neat fleshy appendages on the seeds. While I was searching for ginger seeds, Gerry discovered his first target plant of the day, mountain campion (Silene bernardina var. rigidula). This is a rare species I’ve only seen here, at nearby Groundhog Mountain, and at Abbott Butte. Silene species are often called catchfly and, indeed, these are sticky enough to catch insects. We photographed some really nice specimens in the shade just after the split in the trails. It was a good thing we did it then because on our way back they were in the sun and had shriveled up. I’ve noticed this with the fairly common Douglas’ campion (S. douglasii). They seem to look their best on cloudy days or first thing in the morning. Not sure why this is true, but I’m sure there’s a good explanation. Read the rest of this entry »