Posts Tagged ‘aquatic plants’

Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies

Ever since Sabine and I accompanied Jenny Lippert to Little Pigeon Prairie in early July (see The Search for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum), I had been wanting to get back there to explore the main wetland at Pigeon Prairie, which we didn’t have time for that day. It had been five years since I’d been there and seen an amazing show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum). I also wanted to check on the seeds of the blue-eyed grass we had seen, in case that would help with deciding if it was the rare Sisyrinchium sarmentosum or the common S. idahoense. It’s a long drive for me to get there—just south of Detroit—but since the heat has been sapping my energy, I didn’t want to do anything that required any climbing, so a flat wetland seemed like a good idea, and I headed up there last week on July 30.

King's gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

King’s gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

As it turned out, I had to do quite a bit of bushwhacking—there are no trails in this area—and walking around a wetland of tall sedges and standing water can be tricky, so it wasn’t as relaxing as I’d hoped. But I’m so glad I made the trip. When I arrived at Little Pigeon Prairie, which is only a thin strip of trees away from Road 620 (off of McCoy Road 2233), I was almost immediately greeted by the tall purply-blue wands of Gentiana sceptrum in perfect bloom. Sometimes I feel as though I spend so much time exploring new spots or looking for rarities or particular plants I’m studying or need to photograph that I miss out on the big shows of wildflowers that most people are seeking out. I could have gone to some alpine meadow at peak bloom, but here I was going to a fairly low elevation (3600′), sedge-covered, boggy area well past “peak” season. But even if the gentians were the only flowers left in bloom, it still would have been worth it, as there are few plants as glorious as a large-flowered gentian, and meadows full of this regal species are as spectacular as anything else I could have imagined seeing that day in the Cascades. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Bloomers at Echo Basin & Ikenick Creek

Fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) blooms at the end of the summer at Echo Basin.

Labor Day Monday (September 6) was a working day for me—if spending the day botanizing in a pretty wetland can ever be called “work.” After studying the Mimulus primuloides at Hills Peak (see Pikas, and a Coyote, and Monkeyflowers, Oh My!), I wanted to see some more populations in a different area of the Western Cascades. So I headed north to Echo Basin. I knew there’d be other late-blooming wetland plants as well. The air was very crisp when I arrived at the trailhead—a bittersweet reminder that autumn is just around the corner, and pretty soon I’ll be saying goodbye to the mountains until next spring. One of the first plants I noticed along the trail was blunt-sepaled starwort (Stellaria obtusa), one the inconspicuous plants whose distribution I’ve been trying to fill out. There were large, prostrate mats of it along much of the trail. I tediously checked many of them with my hand lens to make sure they really were S. obtusa, looking for four blunt sepals, round capsules, and hairs along the edges of the leaves. Only one fooled me by being the more well known look-alike, Stellaria crispa, with 5 sharp sepals and long capsules. Most of the ones I’ve seen haven’t formed quite such flat mats. I wish the plants would stop trying to trick me! Read the rest of this entry »

Pikas, and a Coyote, and Monkeyflowers, Oh My!

On my First Trip to Hills Peak in northeastern Douglas County (click here for aerial photo), I took a look at the top of the peak and three nearby wetlands. But there were several interesting looking spots that I did not have time for, so I decided it deserved a return trip. Boy, was I right! What a wonderful day I had Thursday (August 26), with great weather, interesting and unusual plants (even though most flowers were finished), and some great wildlife experiences, including a terrific hour spent hanging out with pikas.

Pika checking out its hay cache

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Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog

Beautiful hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) rings the lake.

Yesterday (August 15), I finally got around to returning to the wetland area just west of Wolf Mountain in southeastern Lane County. I’m calling the apparently unnamed area Warfield Creek wetlands since it is the headwaters of Warfield Creek. I discovered this cool spot last September by looking for wetlands with Google Earth (see Warfield Creek Bog report). While it was only a couple of weeks earlier than my trip last year, I hoped to see some earlier bloomers at the bog and possibly to explore the wetland area upstream of the bog. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by a number of butterflies and loads of blooming hardhack (Spiraea douglasii). I probably spent almost an hour and a half happily wandering around near the car and nearby lake before I even put my rubber boots on and headed into the bog. Read the rest of this entry »

Superb Floral Display Above Deer Creek

Several years ago, Sabine and I discovered a great roadside area for botanizing along Deer Creek Road in Linn County. Head out the McKenzie Highway past the ranger station. Deer Creek Road heads off to the left (west) after about 7.5 miles (3 miles south of Trail Bridge Reservoir). While you’ll start to see nice patches of Cryptantha intermedia pretty soon along the road banks, the real show doesn’t start until you drive past Fritz Creek. Here, between about 2.5 and 4 miles from the start of the road, there are about 13 creeks and seeps spilling down onto the road bank and fueling an amazing show of annuals this year.

Easternmost meadow with sweeps of Collinsia grandiflora

We hadn’t explored the area since 2005, so after a quick trip up Castle Rock a couple of weeks ago, we decided it would be worth checking out. The blue sheets of Collinsia grandiflora were outstanding. Mimulus guttatus was also quite lovely, and many other plants were still going strong—even some Romanzoffia thompsonii I remembered seeing on our original trips. At one particular small creek, I had discovered some Dodecatheon pulchellum back in 2005. At only about 2500′ elevation, it is the lowest site for this variety I know, and I figured it would be finished, but I still wanted to relocate it, and was pleased to find 3 small plants in the creek bed. I remembered finding much more in a somewhat hidden seepy meadow farther up hill. There are several other meadows above these roadcuts I hadn’t investigated yet. Clearly this area was worth a whole day of exploring. Read the rest of this entry »

Warfield Creek Bog report

Yesterday I made it to the wetland NNW of Wolf Mountain and had a really good day, so it is time for another report….

newly emerged dragonfly

newly emerged dragonfly

I began the day trying to check out some wetland areas right off of 2308. Road 2308 itself has a big rockslide after half a mile so the first ones were a no go. I went up a little dirt road near the intersection of 2308 and 2307 to look at stuff at T22S.R4E.sec 35. There was a very boring old wetland of 5′ Scirpus microcarpus and such. The pond that shows on the maps is no longer there. But the big lake to the northeast was very nice. Not much of a wetland (unless you’re a sedgehead!), mostly tall stuff including cattails, also lots of Comarum palustre. Loads of aquatics though. The pondlilies were really tall, some of them sticking 3′ above the water. There was Sparganium with a few blossoms left, duckweed and 3 kinds of Potamogetons. I saw Potamogeton pusillus for the first time. There was lots of P. natans and some other one I couldn’t get near enough to even photograph. There’s no bank, so I had to go out on some logs to get to the open water. I scared up a bunch of yellow jackets nesting in one, and was extremely thankful they didn’t sting me. I was not so lucky last year at Bristow Prairie in almost the same situation. I was able to avoid testing my luck again by returning on a different log. In a more pleasant insect encounter, I saw a newly emerged dragonfly pumping up its wings. It was really pale. I wonder how long it takes the color to develop?

I went up to the Warfield Creek bog via Rd 2316 to Wolf Mountain. On the way up, I passed a little creek spilling down the bank with a gorgeous display of picture-perfect Parnassia cirrata. There was also a lot of faded Micranthes (Saxifraga) odontoloma. I stopped up at the top at the intersection of the spur road up to the top of Wolf Mountain. There is a great view of the wetland and also all the ridges to the north including Bunchgrass Ridge, Verdun Rock, and Mount David Douglas. I went up the Wolf Mountain Road a short ways before deciding it was a bit too rough, and I didn’t have time to move rocks to make it safer. Loads of Rainera stricta and other things. It was probably very pretty a month ago.

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Hidden Lakes at Bristow Prairie

Another report from the Calapooyas. Yesterday, Sabine and I went back to Bristow Prairie. Things looked about the same as they did when we went last year in September, but we wanted to explore the Lane County side this time and to check out the smaller lakes in the woods. Mostly what was in bloom was goldenrod and Klamath weed, so the whole place had a pretty yellow tinge. The Veratrum has had a great bloom year everywhere and there were loads of V. insolitum hanging on as well as the more common viride and a little californicum. Last year on many of my trips it didn’t appear they had bloomed at all.

We headed straight for the main lake. The Sagittaria was in fading bloom as were the pond lilies. There was also still some Potamogeton epihydrus (I’m pretty sure of the species) with some flowers. I thought I’d seen that last year, but it was disappearing then so I wasn’t sure. We didn’t spend much time looking around the surrounding wetland, but I did see a few Spiranthes stellata and a large area of Stellaria obtusa. We saw lots more of that in damp shady areas as we continued. I had S. crispa on my list, so that was a misidentification. Unfortunately, not only did I drag Sabine on a day of nothing but bushwhacking, but I had her bring her rubber boots for the lower lakes and she lost one, and then we didn’t even need them as things were drying out. We tried but could not find it. I hope to get back earlier next year to see peak bloom. Maybe the boot will reappear when the foliage isn’t so tall!

Southwestern hidden lake at Bristow Prairie

Southwestern hidden lake at Bristow Prairie with oodles of Sagittaria cuneata, willows, Cicuta douglasii, and Spiraea douglasii

We found the lower two lakes without too much trouble although we went back a much easier way than we went down. They are only about 500′ from the bottom of the meadow. The animals obviously know the best way between the lakes and the meadow, so we followed their trail back up. The lower lakes are quite pretty. They are maybe 100′ apart and yet they didn’t have the same plants in them. The south one has tons of Sagittaria cuneata and pond lilies. The north has loads of Menyanthes trifoliata and some pond lilies but no Sagittaria. The bad news is that the southern pond is in Douglas County and the northern one in Lane. I found a swampy area just south of the south pond with a colony of Listera convallarioides. There were also a couple of plants with large, somewhat hairy, palmate leaves that I wouldn’t have guessed were Geranium richardsonii if I hadn’t just seen them blooming a few days before at Skipper Lakes. I double-checked my photos of the Geranium as well as similar plants like Trautvetteria that might be in that habitat, and it is definitely the Geranium. That of course is also on the Douglas County side. The interesting plants seem determined to stay out of Lane County! Read the rest of this entry »

Calapooya Report

I’ve been waiting all summer to get back to exploring the Calapooyas, so yesterday I went up Coal Creek Road to Bradley Lake and Loletta Lakes. Most of this is in Douglas County, but it is all on the north side of the Calapooya crest and in the Willamette National Forest (just barely). They really ought to have run the county line along the Calapooya Divide.

Western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis) is a lovely late-blooming composite with a woody base.

I made a couple of quick detours on my way up to check on the Piperias. Youngs Flat Picnic Area was filled with people camping, but luckily they seem to be leaving the woods on the north side alone. The Piperia elongata are still blooming pretty well, although past peak. I also checked the woods across from Mutton Meadow where I’d seen about 30 Piperia plants in the spring. I managed to find 5 flower stalks. Only 2 had any flowers left. I’m pretty sure they’re P. transversa as they looked white with straight spurs. It also makes sense because they start blooming a bit earlier than elongata, so should be farther along than the P. elongata at nearby Youngs Flat.

When John and I went up Coal Creek Rd in early July, the road was a bit of a mess, lots of branches and rocks. Looks like the road has been cleaned up and even graded. I was thrilled about this until I got up to the base of the cliffs where the Epilobium luteum was in full bloom. It looks like they pushed some of the gravel right into the wet ditch and scraped some of the ditch as well. There were slashed branches. There’s still a lot of good habitat, but this is really upsetting. I don’t know what the official status of Epilobium luteum is, but this is probably the biggest population I’ve seen, and there are loads of other pretty things like Claytonia cordifolia in there. I hate to see them buried in dirt. I’m also concerned about messing with the water flow all these plants depend upon.

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Pond near Blair Lake

I spent the day at Blair Lake yesterday. I would have said “spent a relaxing day…” but while negotiating what passes for a path around the end of the lake, I discovered I’d lost my hat. I had to duck under and plow through those stinky Ribes bracteosum 3 times instead of once. Aargh. Thankfully, I did find where my hat had gotten knocked off and will be more careful next time I’m in jungle conditions like that.

Pedicularis@BL071809252

A colorful meadow of bracted lousewort (Pedicularis bracteosa), elephant’s head (P. groenlandica), and celery-leaved lovage (Ligusticum apiifolium)

The flowers were lovely. The Spiraea splendens and Lilium columbianum were outstanding. Most of the meadow was white with Ligusticum. That one is still confusing me. It is not particularly leafy, like the ones that grow on my property or at Lowder, but it seems way too tall to be L. grayii. Closer to the lake, the Pedicularis groenlandica and P. bracteosa made a beautiful combination. There were lots of Platanthera dilatata as well. The many graminoids had me intrigued, so I collected some and hopefully can get more of them figured out this winter. Neither my list nor the old NPSO ones have any graminoids. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Meadow above Blair Lake

I got to go out yesterday and decided to explore the area along Road 730 near Blair Lake. I’ve been up there before with Neil Björkland on a butterfly trip and by myself another time but never had time to properly look around. Sabine came with me, and we had a very good day. Bruce Newhouse mentioned something about a wet meadow up that way that had Kyhosia bolanderi. I’m guessing that was Spring Meadow, just below Beal Prairie. I only had a few minutes down there as Sabine had strained her leg recently and wasn’t up to bushwhacking. I got there via the nice little trail to the lower of the two cute lakes and then cut east. I returned by heading north up to the road—a much longer bushwhack. I can’t wait to go back. In my 20 minutes or so I did see sundew, Spiranthes, loads of Kalmia, cottongrass, the same willow that’s so common down at Blair which I’m guessing is S. commutata or boothii, Epilobium oregonense (probably), Saxifraga odontoloma, and Trifolium howellii in a side creek and lots of more common things. I didn’t see any Kyhosia bolanderi, but without my boots (sitting in the car!) and more time, I couldn’t properly explore it.

The upper pond was also quite nice with some reblooming Kalmia, a little Sagittaria cuneata, both Spiraeas as well as the hybrid, Ranunculus gormanii and Packera subnuda [Senecio cymbalarioides] like down at Blair Lake, and lots of a little groundcovering Epilobium which I think might be E. anagallidifolium. Nice sedges there as well. The lower pond doesn’t have much of a shoreline and no aquatics either, just spiraea and some willows.

rocky outcrop above Road 730

rocky outcrop above Road 730 south of Blair Lake. Beall Prairie can be seen not too far away.

Our last exploration was up the huge outcrop along the side of the road just south of the upper pond. Along with lots of the usual Sedum oregonense and Eriophyllum lanatum, we saw lots of Selaginella scopulorum and Lupinus lepidus lobbii (some still blooming!) and some Eriogonum marifolium (also some still blooming) growing near E. umbellatum again. There were also several places there and along the rocky part of the road with Pedicularis contorta (like on the rock outcrop overlooking Blair Lake).

Before leaving, we did a fairly quick spin around Blair Lake. All the Sagittaria was done (I got some good pictures of it flowering last year in August), but there was another aquatic I can’t identify. There were no signs of any flowering structures. I know very little about aquatics, but will be studying them this winter. Could it be some type of Potamogeton?

I’ll definitely be up Road 730 next spring if possible when things will be a lot easier to identify. Can’t wait!

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