Posts Tagged ‘Botrychium’

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 »

The Bristow Prairie Area Continues to Yield More Discoveries

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Frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa) and hotrock penstemon (Penstemon deustus) up on the rocky bald.

After finally spotting the hidden north trailhead last summer (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John Koenig and I returned last fall to do the northern end of the High Divide trail that crosses Bristow Prairie. We discovered an awesome pillar rock, moist forest, and more meadows, so it was definitely worth a return trip. On Wednesday (June 11), Sabine Dutoit and I decided to head up there and see what the area looks like in flower. We still had trouble finding the trailhead, as although John and I had found the trail sign in the ditch and put it back up on the road, it was moved yet again. Luckily, I had made a GPS waypoint last year. Once we found the trailhead, just a tad up the road from a quarry and pillar rock I had checked out a few years ago, we could see the sign had been placed on the ground next to the trail, just up into the woods—not much good for spotting the trail from the road, but at least we knew we were in the right place! Read the rest of this entry »

A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats

On Friday, June 28, John Koenig, Gail Baker, Clay Gautier, and I went up to into the Calapooya Mountains to explore Bristow Prairie. It was a great day with all kinds of interesting discoveries. We had to stop a number of times on the road on the way up. Our first was at a large sweep of beautiful Geranium oreganum alive with butterflies—to be honest, the butterflies were more interested in the weedy daisies, but at least the numerous bees appreciated the natives. We also checked out Jim’s Oak Patch, but the uncommon species that came in after the prescribed burn seem to have disappeared, at least until the next fire. I also had to share with my friends the awesome Mosaic Rock. We decided not to climb up to the base since we would need the time at our main destination, but with binoculars I could see some of the Heuchera merriamii was in full bloom. Oh well, you can’t do everything.

The late afternoon signs illuminates the cliffs of Staley Ridge to the east and Diamond Peak beyond.

The late afternoon sun illuminates the cliffs of Staley Ridge to the east and Diamond Peak beyond.

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Geraniums and Butterflies Along Road 21

Dan and Nancy enjoy the show of beautiful Oregon geraniums right by the main road.

Geranium oreganum has very large, very bright pink flowers. How could I have passed by this spot so many times and never seen these?!

Monday (June 11) was another day of leisurely roadside botanizing southeast of Oakridge for me, along with Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and Dan Thomas. We stopped at many of our usual sites, including the cliffs by the reservoir, Youngs Flat Picnic Area, Mutton Meadow, Jim’s Oak Patch, Skunk Creek by Road 400, several unnamed meadows, and even briefly up to the amazing “Mosaic Rock” Sabine and I discovered last year (see Amazing Rock Feature Worthy of a Name). One of the most prominent plants of the day is one I rarely see, Oregon geranium (Geranium oreganum). There used to be a plant on my property, but I haven’t seen it for years. I probably drive down Road 21 at least a dozen times every year, year after year, yet I was totally surprised when we came upon a grassy spot along the road just past Secret Campground that was filled with blooming geraniums. The only thing that might explain how I’ve missed these is that perhaps they have a short season of bloom. We stopped to take a look and saw several butterflies among the pretty flowers, including a great arctic. I got what I thought was a nice photo of a female silvery blue that Nancy had spotted. Sadly, when I saw it blown up on my computer, it turns out she was in the death grip of a crab spider. Read the rest of this entry »

Groundhog Mountain Still Blooming Well

This section of Road 452 is a veritable smorgasbord for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.

With the continued warm weather, I didn’t feel like exerting myself, so on Friday, August 25, I went to Groundhog Mountain, accompanied by Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray, to do some relaxing roadside botanizing and butterfly watching. There’s too much to see to do everything in one trip, so we started by heading up Road 452, which goes around the east and north sides of the mountain. The best butterfly area, a little less than a mile up the road, was really superb. The coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) and Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum) were at peak, along with lots sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), leafy fleabane (Erigeron foliosus), fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), and skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata). What a sight. There were oodles of butterflies including pale swallowtails, hydaspe fritillaries, variable checkerspots, Anna’s blues, pine whites, parnassians, a tiger swallowtail, one painted lady—possibly my first of the season, a woodland skipper, a mylitta crescent, a Lorquin’s admiral, and several coppers, including a purplish. Read the rest of this entry »

Last Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows

Yesterday (September 2), Sabine and I spent a relaxing and low-key day at Grasshopper Meadows. No exciting finds or multitudes of flowers, just a day out enjoying the wide open meadows and blue sky above. After a week off for inclement weather and other chores, it was just nice to get out again. It was very different than our other trip in June (see First Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows). Then everything was fresh and barely up out of the ground. Now most things are fading, the grasses are taking on a warmer tone, and many things, especially the early annuals, are completely dried out. It’s a fun challenge trying to recognize plants at this stage.

Asters put on the last great show of flowers in the meadow.

The foliage was still quite wet from rain the day before but was much drier out in the open meadow where surprisingly strong winds were blowing. It’s aster time in the meadow and little else was blooming. Most of the asters appeared to be western aster (Symphyotrichum spathulatum, formerly Aster occidentalis) with small, even-sized phyllaries, but this often mixes with leafy aster (S. foliaceum) with its much larger outer phyllaries, and there was certainly some variety in the larger sweeps of lavender. I would have expected a lot more butterflies, but the wind was too much for them except near the eastern edge where it was blocked by the trees. Read the rest of this entry »

Awesome Day at Groundhog

The area around Groundhog and Little Groundhog Mountains (really two ends of the same formation) is one of my very favorite places. I discovered it 9 years ago and have returned over 20 times. Although it is highly impacted, with many roads and a great deal of the forest logged in the recent past, this is an amazing spot for roadside botanizing and watching butterflies. When Molly Juillerat, the botanist for the Middle Fork district of the Willamette National Forest, asked me to help her lead a field trip to see plants and butterflies, I immediately suggested Groundhog Mountain as the destination.

A multitude of tadpoles filled the water beneath the bur-reed (Sparganium natans?)

Yesterday, (August 9), Molly and I headed up to Groundhog to “prehike” for Friday’s field trip. There are no trails, so we were mainly checking the road conditions and deciding which of the many great sites would be most interesting at this time of year. There are numerous wetlands, several good seeps, excellent rocky roadcut spots, and several small lakes to choose from. Our first stop was Waterdog Lake. This shallow body of water is usually drying out in August, creating mud flats along the edges where specialized plants such as Rorippa curvisiliqua and Gnaphalium palustre appear. I was surprised to see how much water was still there. The Rorippa had barely started as what mud there was had not really dried out yet. The unusual spherical flowers of Sparganium were sticking up above the water. I’m still not sure of the species as they had characteristics of both S. angustifolium and the far less common S. natans. Read the rest of this entry »

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