Archive for the ‘Lane County’ Category
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.
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 »
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.