Posts Tagged ‘beargrass’

Youngs Rock to Moon Point

While the lower elevation meadows were drying out, this gorgeous area, off-trail just east of Youngs Rock itself, was being fueled by meltwater from the high ridge of Warner Mountain above. Both the monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) and rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) were outstanding.

The Tolmie’s cats ears (Calochortus tolmiei) were outstanding at Youngs Rock. There was also quite a bit of showy tarweed (Madia elegans), but it was closing up in the afternoon.

On Saturday, June 24, Molly Juillerat and I co-led a wildflower field trip for the South Willamette Forest Collaborative, a group of people interested in restoration of the Rigdon area, southeast of Oakridge. Their previous field trip had been to see the Jim’s Creek area, which has been undergoing major restoration work for a number of years. The Youngs Rock trail starts in the Jim’s Creek area along Rigdon Road 21. We had planned to show people the wonderful trail going up to Youngs Rock starting just above the Jim’s Creek restoration area. We had pre-hiked it with some friends the previous Saturday, June 17, but when the weather forecast showed temperatures soaring above 100°F, we felt that it would be entirely too hot for an uphill climb through dry meadows and rocky habitat. Instead, we moved the trip farther uphill to Moon Point, which connects with the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail. At about 5100′, The snow there had only melted within the last few weeks, and the more or less level trail through damp meadows would be much more pleasant on such a hot day. Indeed it was a lovely day, and other than lots of mosquitoes (not aggressive, however), we had a great time. Here are a few highlights from both trips. Read the rest of this entry »

The Search for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum

A fairly light-colored blue-eyed grass, but is it Sisyrinchium sarmentosum

A fairly light-colored blue-eyed grass, with rounded tepals, but is it Sisyrinchium sarmentosum? Note the winged stems and fairly narrow tepals.

According to the literature, Sisyrinchium sarmentosum (pale blue-eyed grass) is a rare species found only in a small area of the Cascades in southern Washington and northwestern Oregon near the Columbia Gorge. The Forest Service has been looking for more potential sites and has found several apparent populations farther south than the Columbia Gorge. Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, asked me to come along with her to a couple of these sites to take photographs, so on Wednesday, July 2, Sabine and I accompanied her to several moist meadow areas in Linn and Marion counties. Our first stop was Little Pigeon Prairie. It took us a little while to spot the blue-eyed grass because it was cloudy and before noon, and they don’t like to open up until the afternoon (I’m not much of a morning person myself!). As we headed to another nearby meadow just outside the large wetland of nearby Pigeon Prairie, suddenly the sun came out and so did the little blue stars of Sisyrinchium. It also went from cool to warm and humid very quickly—a fact that almost resulted in a major calamity for Sabine. While taking off her outer fleece, she had to take off her binoculars, which were on a harness. Before leaving the meadow, she realized the binoculars were missing but couldn’t remember where she’d taken them off and couldn’t find them anywhere. It was only after more or less giving up and heading out that she stumbled upon them again. What a relief! It’s a lesson for all us to mark all our equipment with brightly colored tape or paint—I have now put bright red tape on both my GPS and my oft-dropped lens cap. 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 »

Wetlands at Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte

It’s been another great year for beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax). It’s blooming en masse here in the upper wetland at Hemlock Butte. Diamond Peak seems to be just a stone’s throw away.

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 »

Gorgeous Day at Coffin and Bachelor

The show of beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is once again outstanding on the open slope of Coffin Mountain. The Penstemon procerus and mountain sandwort (Eremogone capillaris) were also quite showy.

I’ve been trying to get back to Coffin and Bachelor mountains for several years, and, coincidentally, I finally made it back this past Wednesday, August 3, exactly three years to the day of my last trip. These two mountains have fairly short trails and are side by side, but it is still hard for me to do both in one day (without rushing too much) unless I camp nearby to give myself more time. Otherwise, I’d head up there at least once a year. They really are jewels for flowers and butterflies. I don’t know why more people don’t know about them. They deserve the popularity of Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, but I can’t complain too much about how much quieter they are.

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