Archive for the ‘Forest’ Category
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
Yesterday (June 17), my plan was to try to get up to Groundhog Mountain to look for the Douglasia I found a couple of years ago (see Exciting Cliff at Groundhog Mountain). I knew it would be a challenge, as by the time the snow melts off the roads, the Douglasia, free of snow on its vertical rocky habitat, will most likely be finished. Last year’s heavy snowpack kept me from even trying, but this year, I hoped I might make it. Alas, I got stopped by snow less than a quarter of a mile from the turnoff to Waterdog Lake. Past that, I could see the road was completely clear until it turned around to the west side of the mountain. Walking from here would add 4 miles round trip to the hike—not an option for me right now. And driving in from the north side would be even more futile. So, maybe in another week or so I’ll try again. Even if the flowers are fading, it should make estimating the population on the inaccessible cliff a lot easier than it was in the fall when I first saw it. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday (June 15), Dan Thomas, Nancy Bray, and I spent the day at Bearbones Mountain. I just love this little known jewel. So many interesting plants in such a small area. It’s a real melting pot, with plants more typical of the north, south, and east, all meeting together on a small, rocky knob. Few people travel this trail, so the plants are quickly filling in. We were surprised that most of the coralroots we saw seemed to be coming up right in the middle of the trail. We tried our best to avoid them, but as they were in bud and their reddish color blended in with the soil, it was difficult to spot them all, and on the return trip, we noticed several broken stalks we must have stepped on as we went up the trail. Both my companions seemed happy at the diversity of plants we saw. There were many slender-tubed iris (Iris chrysophylla) and fairybells (Prosartes hookeri) in the woods. The fairybells are especially small along this trail, some only 4″ high. After spotting the white-flowered wands of Mitella trifida, we spent a while looking for the very similar M. diversifolia, so I could show them the difference in leaf and flower shape. They can be hard to spot among the showier plants, but there were quite a few. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday (May 10), Nancy Bray and I enjoyed the lovely weather by spending a few hours up at Eagles Rest. I was up there both May 5 and May 20 (see Spring Moving Slowly at Eagles Rest) last year, and the blooming was right in the middle of those two trips. That would not be so surprising except that last year the flowers were so far behind because of the cold spring. I guess it really has been damp and cool up until now, so the lower elevations are still later than “normal”. On the other hand, the deep snowpack pushed the higher elevation plants as much as a month late last year. This year, the snow pack has been pretty poor. From the top of Eagles Rest, Mount June could still be seen covered with snow last year on May 20. Yesterday, even with the binoculars, I could only see a touch of snow on the north side of Mt. June. And with the several weeks of dry, sunny weather, we’re having, the mountain bloom shouldn’t be nearly as late as last year. Read the rest of this entry »