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 »
After last week’s trip to Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte (see previous post), I was interested in checking out some more places in the area. While exploring on Google Earth, I noticed several apparent wetlands in the area near Lopez Lake, just a couple of miles northeast of Hemlock Butte. From the spotty appearance of the lake in the aerial image, it also seemed likely that Lopez Lake had aquatic plants—always a plus for me. All of the areas of interest could be reached off of Road 5884, out Hwy 58 east of Oakridge. I’d been up the first half of this road a couple of times before to hike to Devil’s Garden, an area with a small wetland and a lake at the base of a talus slope, but I’d never been all the way to the end. Read the rest of this entry »
On Friday, August 3, Molly Juillerat and I took a group up to see some wetlands in the Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest where she works as a botanist. All together, including Anna and Sharon who also work for the district and who kindly drove us, we had 13 participants. There was quite a variety of folks. Along with the Forest Service, we had people from the Native Plant Society, North American Butterfly Association, and the Middle Fork Watershed Council. Since there are no trails at either site, and we were staying fairly close to the roads, people were mostly able to focus on their own interests, looking at plants, butterflies, dragonflies, and a handsome Cascades frog. Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday (July 29), I drove down along Road 21 past Hills Creek Reservoir, yet again. I believe that’s the 13th time this season—and it won’t be the last. It is such a fascinating area botanically with a few good trails and a great deal of roadside interest. I was still tired from bushwhacking around Bearbones Mountain, so I wanted to avoid any real hiking and to instead check up on some good roadside spots and see as much of Hills Peak, way out past the end of 21, as I had time and energy for. My first stop was to Youngs Flat Picnic Area to see if the piperias were in bloom. What great luck, the white-flowered royal rein orchid (Piperia transversa) was in perfect bloom. Chaparral rein orchid (P. elongata) blooms a little later and was just starting, although I found several in good bloom. As far as I know, it is impossible to tell the various species apart from the leaves. So this was the time to check out some of the areas along the road where I’d seen the leaves but never the flowers. So my next stop was Mutton Meadow. In the woods across the road from the meadow were some scattered Piperia transversa, no elongata. The meadow itself was filled with elegant cluster-lily (Brodiaea elegans), some kind of birdbeak (Cordylanthus sp.)—a rare plant around here, and yampah (Perideridia spp.). I believe I saw both P. gairdneri and P. oregana, but until the seeds appear, I can’t be sure. That’s a tough genus to get a handle on.
I don’t have time today to write a real report, and there weren’t any really exciting moments on my hike to Bearbones Mountain yesterday (July 27). I did add 5 species to my plant list and collected seed from a number of plants. As I scan them, I’ll add them to my seed gallery. It was a good day for butterfly photography, even though there weren’t many species, so I thought I would at least share some photos. I spent a good 45 minutes sitting (actually I was mostly teetering on a small ledge on a large rock) beside a perfectly blooming mockorange that was the focal point for all the butterflies in the area. Between the happy butterflies, the pleasant breeze, and the heavenly fragrance of the lovely flowers, I can’t imagine a better way to pass an afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in 2007, I spotted an odd looking coralroot at Gordon Meadows. It wasn’t until I got home and compared my photos to references that I realized it was the rare northern coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida). I would have taken more time to study it had I realized it wasn’t just an odd-looking spotted coralroot (C. maculata), which does vary a bit. Sometimes it is yellow rather than red, and sometimes it doesn’t have any spots. Northern coralroot is droopier and a more greenish yellow. On a number of subsequent trips, I’ve tried to relocate it unsucccessfully. There have been coralroots blooming everywhere I’ve been lately, so I thought it might be a good time to try again.
On Friday, August 3, Molly Juillerat and I will be leading a field trip to Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte wetlands east of Oakridge (for more info or to sign up, call the Middle Fork Ranger Station at 541-782-2283). To make sure the roads are okay and to see what might be blooming, I went for a scouting trip on Sunday (July 21). On the drive up, I was very pleased to score some ripe seeds of silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons), one of my favorite rock plants for its gorgeous silvery foliage. Lupines are very hard to collect seed from on the fly. Their seed pods explode almost as soon as they are ripe, vaulting the seeds away from the plant. The best way to collect is to put some sort of a bag over the ripening pods to catch the seeds. This is great for a monitored site, but for a random stop along the road, I just had to get lucky. Many of the pods had released their seeds and were all coiled up. Some pods were starting to turn brown but hadn’t opened up yet. I lazily threw them on the seat of the car, planning to put them in a seed envelope later. When I returned to the car to eat lunch after my first foray at Warfield Bog, they had exploded from the heat in the car, I suppose, and had scattered seeds all over the place. A bit of a mess, perhaps, but more seeds than I’ve ever managed to get before, so I was happy. My most recent plant in the garden died after the March snowstorm this spring, so I need to get some more started. Read the rest of this entry »
On both my last two outings, part of my agenda was to relocate tiny annuals I had seen in the past. More and more, I find myself fascinated with these smallest of plants that have such a brief time in the sun. They just don’t get much respect. Sometimes I find myself ignoring large, showy perennials shamelessly calling attention to themselves with their bright colors. Instead, I look for the empty spaces in between the tall plants. Here lie an amazing array of Lilliputian annuals that can hardly be seen without kneeling down (hence the name “belly plants”). But up close, they are as fascinating as the relative giants above them.
At Bristow Prairie on July 13, my first stop was just a short ways from the road up a small wash. A couple of years ago (see Bristow Prairie’s Open Gravelly Slope), I had seen some tiny popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.). Unfortunately, they are so similar that to differentiate many species you need to see the nutlets. The various patterns of bumps and ridges and the placement of the scar where the nutlets were attached to the style help distinguish one species from another. I found the little plants pretty easily, and, unlike the previous trip, they had started to form nutlets. Even unripe, it is possible to see some of the necessary characteristics. I’m pretty sure they are harsh popcorn flower (P. hispidulus), as I had suspected, but it was good to finally get a look at the nutlets. Read the rest of this entry »
Most people who go to Tidbits Mountain head up the trail to the old lookout site, enjoy the view, and return the same way they came. It’s a wonderful hike with many wildflowers and a fabulous view. But there is more to be seen at Tidbits. My goal for my trip yesterday (July 9) was to spend some time on what I call “the Wall”—the part of the ridge to the west of the “Tidbits” that can be seen from the summit. It puts on a great show in July. The last few years I’ve only come to Tidbits late during gentian season. I also wanted to relocate an uncommon plant I’d found back in the fall of 2009 off the side trail that heads north from the intersection where a cabin once sat. Read the rest of this entry »
Hopscotching over to “Heavenly Bluff”, the rocky opening I saw from Bearbones, worked so well on my last trip (see A Heavenly New Site in Lane County) that I decided to try it again. On Friday (July 6), I jumped a little farther west to Scorpion Butte, a place I’d never heard of but had seen from Heavenly Bluff a couple of days before. While it is less than 4 miles as the crow flies from Heavenly Bluff, I couldn’t get there from the east and had to drive to Cottage Grove and approach it from the west side. It is just a couple of miles south of Bohemia Saddle, but the shortest route was to follow Sharps Creek down to Martin Creek Road 23 (confusingly, not the same Road 23 that runs east from the Hills Creek Dam), up Puddin’ Rock Road 2328 to Shane Saddle, and east a little less than 2 miles down Road 3828 to a hard corner with a large gravel area. It was almost 12 miles of gravel road, but thankfully it was all in pretty decent shape and lined with colorful flowers in some of the higher elevation sections. And it was well worth the drive to see this beautiful spot. Read the rest of this entry »