Archive for the ‘Linn County’ Category

Triple Treat up the McKenzie

Left) A very fresh brown elfin on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) A echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

Left) A very fresh brown elfin (the purple scales don’t last long) on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) An echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

With the warm spring weather beckoning, Sabine and I headed up the McKenzie Highway on Wednesday (April 30) to see how the bloom was coming along in several favorite sites. Our first stop was to the main wetland at Ikenick Creek. I’d never been there anywhere near this early, and although there were lots of spring flowers on last spring’s early June trip (see The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek), I was a bit late for the willows. This year, I wanted to try to catch this area at the very beginning of the season. A few remnants of snow along the north-facing side of the road indicated it was indeed early here. The air was fantastic—so fresh and not hot yet. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw some blooming sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) by the roadside that was serving breakfast to a number of insects, including several brown elfins and echo (formerly spring) azures—an auspicious start to the day! Read the rest of this entry »

NARGS Campout Day 2: Coffin Mountain

There have been a number of good beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) years lately, but this one is turning out to be outstanding by any measure.

There have been a number of good beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) years lately, but this one is turning out to be outstanding by any measure. Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata), as bright as it is, can’t compete with the beargrass in this scene. Bachelor Mountain, where we hiked the day before, can be seen in front of Mt. Jefferson.

On the second day of our NARGS camping trip, July 6, 11 of us headed up to Coffin Mountain. This is much more popular than Bachelor Mountain, and there were another dozen or more other hikers on the trail. The woman who mans (womans?) the lookout said there are more people are coming to Coffin Mountain than there used to be. I have to wonder if that’s in part because I keep telling everyone I know to go there! But it’s still a relatively quiet place with every bit as good a display of flowers as the much more well known Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, which can be seen to the south. In a great beargrass year, as this one is turning out to be, there aren’t too many places that can rival it for a outstanding show of flowers. Read the rest of this entry »

NARGS Campout Day 1: Bachelor Mountain

Little sunflower (Helianthella uniflora), normally found east of the Cascades and very common in the Rockies, grows abundantly at Bachelor Mountain.

Little sunflower (Helianthella uniflora), normally found east of the Cascades and very common in the Rockies, grows abundantly at Bachelor Mountain.

Every year (well almost), the Oregon chapters of the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) get together for a camping trip to some mountainous area in Oregon. I have been organizing these trips for a while now, and in spite of the demise of our chapter in Eugene, I still wanted to continue this tradition. This year, we gathered everyone in the Western Cascades to see the great bloom at Coffin and Bachelor mountains in Linn County, south of Detroit. I had hoped to write a full report, but of course I’m off on another botanizing trip soon and don’t have time. Running out of time seems to be a theme for me during the hectic wildflower season in the mountains. So here are some highlights from our fabulous day on Bachelor Mountain (July 5). Read the rest of this entry »

The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek

The pond in the northwest wetland was created by a beaver dam. Later in the summer, it is filled with aquatic plants.

The pond in the northwest wetland was created by a beaver dam. Later in the summer, it is filled with aquatic plants.

Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) and starflowers. All we needed was a moonwort (Botrychium spp.) to complete the celestial theme.

Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) and starflowers. All we needed was a moonwort (Botrychium spp.) to complete the celestial theme.

I had been to the wetlands along Ikenick Creek four times before, but it had always been late in the summer to see the interesting aquatics, so on Friday (June 7), Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray and I headed up to Linn County to see the early flowers. The wetlands are hidden away on the west side of Highway 126, just across the road from Clear Lake. In fact, the lovely clear water of the lake is fed by Ikenick Creek. The day before our trip, the Forest Service had apparently done a controlled burn nearby, and while we were there, many trucks were pumping water out of the creek where it crossed Forest Road 2672. We had to park a little farther away and listen to the pumping all day, but it was a small price to pay to explore a really interesting wetland.

Actually there are four wetlands in an area the Forest Service has designated as the Smith Ridge Special Wildlife Habitat Area. There are several more just outside this area, and all together they refer to them as the Smith Ridge wetland complex. I didn’t know this when I first noticed the intriguing set of wetlands on Google Earth. Smith Ridge is not named on the maps, and although it does drop off hard along the east edge where Hwy. 126 heads south, when you’re in it, the area appears to be basically flat, so it’s hard for me to start using that name now. Whatever you want to call this area, these wetlands contain a diverse collection of wetland habitats, including wet meadows, bogs, sedge marshes, shrublands, swampy woods, creeks, and small ponds. Navigating numerous beaver channels and sudden deep holes in the thick layer sphagnum bog makes exploration tricky, but on this trip, we managed to get everyone back to the car with dry feet (not always so in the past!). Read the rest of this entry »

Armchair Botanical Discovery

Swamp currant (Ribes triste) has really beautiful, deep red inflorescences, large, maple-like leaves, and no prickles.

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 »

Another Unusual Find at Gordon Meadows

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.

Moneses uniflora has many common names, including one-flowered wintergreen, single delight, wood nymph, and shy maiden. The latter might not seem very descriptive, but when you see the little nodding heads, it seems quite appropriate. This little perennial is only a few inches tall and is hard to spot in the shady woods.

Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Beaten Track at Tidbits

A stunning show of mountain cat’s ear (Calochortus subalpinus) on the south-facing slope of “the Wall”.

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 »

Park Creek Coming Into Bloom

Last year, when Mark Turner was looking for places to photograph shrubs for his upcoming Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest book, I suggested he visit the Park Creek Basin near Three Pyramids. There are lots of interesting shrubs growing within a short distance of the roadside. Not only was he successful photographing the shrubs he was looking for, he also discovered a very rare one: Ribes triste, known as swamp red currant or wild red currant. I located the plants later in the summer (see Rare Currrant at Park Creek), but was anxious to see them in bloom. I also wanted to see the flowers of some odd little willows I’d found on that trip.

Snow remains on Three Pyramids beyond Park Creek.

I decided to head up there on Wednesday (June 6). Sabine accompanied me. I was concerned about the timing, as I hadn’t been that far north yet this year, and there’s no telling where the snow level is in a cool spring like this. Last year, Mark saw them in perfect bloom on June 23, but in 2011 we were about a month behind “normal”. It’s been cool and damp this spring but not as extreme as last year, so I figured I might hit it right. I used to be quite good at figuring out when a particular plant might be in bloom, based on spring weather, winter snowpack, and past experience at a variety of locations. But the last few years, the nasty springs had really thrown off my phenology radar. It seems I might be back in business—my timing was perfect! Read the rest of this entry »

Floriferous Roadcut Along McKenzie Highway

On Sunday (May 13), I headed out the McKenzie Highway to do some botanizing. My first stop was to the Castle Rock trail. It is still early there, but there were a number of fairy slippers in the woods and many Lomatium hallii and Sierra snakeroot (Sanicula graveolens) blooming in the open rocky areas of the summit. The pretty pink Phlox diffusa was also starting to bloom along with the lovely Viola sheltonii and Micranthes (Saxifraga) rufidula. It only took me around 3 hours to poke around my favorite spots to see how things were coming along, so I decided to continue on east past McKenzie Bridge.

The bright yellow blossoms of Hall’s lomatium (Lomatium hallii) are one of the first things to bloom up on Castle Rock.

Another good early spot for early flowers is along Deer Creek Road 2654, just over the border into Linn County, 7.5 miles past the ranger station. The wet springs of the last couple of years fueled some gorgeous displays of seep-loving annuals (see Superb Floral Display Above Deer Creek). While it has been wet this spring until recently and many things are just starting, the sudden change to warm, dry conditions may shorten the show of annuals this year. There were quite a few larkspurs in bloom along the road banks along with fading Lomatium hallii and saxifrages (Micranthes rufidula and M. integrifolia). Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii) was still blooming in a few of the many seeps. The big sweeps of rosy plectritis and blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) had not yet begun. Read the rest of this entry »

Singing the Blues at Tidbits

Explorer's gentian (Gentiana calycosa) growing out of a crack in the rock face at the base of the "east Tidbit". Seeing this same plant well over a decade ago was what first made me wonder if these rock-loving gentians were really the same species as those that grow in wetlands in the High Cascades and elsewhere in the West.

On Friday (September 23), Nancy Bray, Ingrid Ford and her adorable dog Bogy, and I headed up to Tidbits to see the gentians. I had planned to get up there early in the season to see the many great plants that grow on the massive rock formations, but there are just too many places to visit. But although it was actually the first day of fall, there are still a few things to see. Thank goodness for the gorgeous gentians. They are somewhat like dessert after a great meal, saving the best for last, the final sweet treat that lingers with you and tides you over until the next flower season. There are not very many species of Gentiana in the Cascades, and they are never terribly common. Tidbits is one of the few places in the Western Cascades with a good show of gentians, so it is always worth a late season trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Archives
Notification of New Posts