Posts Tagged ‘Ceanothus’

A Week of Monarchs and Milkweed: Day 2

Two monarch caterpillars sharing the same purple milkweed plant.

Nancy Bray and I had been planning a trip to the North Umpqua for quite a while. I was rather torn between going to some of my favorite places in Douglas County and looking for more milkweed and monarch sites. As luck would have it, I was able to do both. While checking the distribution of purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) on the Oregon Flora Project Atlas, I had noticed one record of milkweed on Medicine Creek Road 4775 in the North Umpqua area from 1994. While out with Crystal Shepherd on Monday, she told me she used to work at the Diamond Lake District and had seen the milkweed at that site just 5 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Potter Mountain

Last July, I discovered an awesome new spot in the Calapooyas, Potter Mountain (see Natural Rock Garden at Potter Mountain). Since I’d missed the early bloom, it was high on my list of sites to revisit this year. On Sunday, May 31, I returned to see what else might be up there. Staley Creek Road 2134 is usually in good shape, but it did require moving a few small rocks. Still I got up there no trouble (and left it a little clearer for my next trip up). The day was rather overcast but the clouds came in waves, so I did get some sun off and on.

Cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) growing right on the rocky, spine of the ridge. Diamond Peak can be seen to the east.

Cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) growing right on the rocky, spine of the ridge. Diamond Peak can be seen to the east.

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Expect the Unexpected

A very happy Siskiyou fritillary on Heavenly Bluff.

Siskiyou fritillaries sure grow well on Heavenly Bluff.

With a week of dry weather and the snow quickly retreating to higher elevations, I wanted to head back to Heavenly Bluff to get another look at the beautiful Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca) there. Last year when John Koenig and I went up there (see Siskiyou Fritillary in Lane County ), we were having an extremely dry May, and despite some snow on the road, the frits were past peak. I thought we might have better luck this year since, although things are still early, we’ve had regular rain all spring. So Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I headed up toward Heavenly Bluff on May 12, just 2 days later than my trip with John last year. After all the obstacles on the road on that trip, I figured we’d better have a backup plan, so since we were going right by the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, we could go there if we couldn’t make it to Heavenly Bluff.

I was surprised at how good the road condition was for the first half of May—no snow, no logs, and not even a rock out of place. Then we discovered why when we passed a brushcutter along the road. I talked to someone at the ranger station later who said they had no one working up there, but there is a lot of private timber company land in the area, and there was some sign of thinning, so it could be they are getting ready for more logging. In any case, we were able to make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff. Why someone would clear that final deadend spur road, I don’t know. But I was very pleased to be able to drive right to where we could walk easily up through the woods to the opening. Pleased that is until we got out of the car and discovered the tire was flat. Perhaps it was the very short section of the spur road where there were a lot of small, sharp rocks, or perhaps the tire was already leaking as I’d had to inflate it last week when it looked a little low. Whatever the reason, changing a tire had not been on my agenda. I couldn’t face dealing with it immediately, and I was not about to miss out on my botanizing, having come all this way, so we headed up to the bluff. Read the rest of this entry »

Siskiyou Fritillary in Lane County

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.

Fritillaria glauca happily grows en masse in the loose rock of a steep slope.

Fritillaria glauca happily grows en masse in the loose rock of a steep slope. The plants spread by little bulb offsets sliding downhill along with the gravel.

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A Heavenly New Site in Lane County

The site as seen from Bearbones Mountain a few miles to the southeast. It is unnamed on the map, but I could hear Horse Heaven Creek running below to the north, so I’m calling it “Heavenly Bluff.”

Discovery really is what gets my blood pumping. I had a spectacular day yesterday (July 4), and it had nothing to do with fireworks. Several weeks ago when I was on Bearbones Mountain (see Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones), I had noticed an open rocky area between there and Bohemia Mountain. I planned to head to Bearbones yesterday to see the next wave of flowers but wanted to see if I could even find this intriguing spot first. It’s at the end of a small spur road 920 off of 2213 just south of Johnson Meadows. I wasn’t even sure the road would be passable. I was quite pleased to find it was, although it clearly wasn’t used much and was lined with a dreadful amount of the bright yellow but nasty invasive Lotus corniculatus. It looked to be a very short bushwhack through some woods to reach the opening, but it was even easier than I expected. Someone had made a trail and lined it with pink ribbons. Who did that, and what could they be doing out here? The North Umpqua Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is in charge of this area, and they don’t have any records of projects there, so I may never know. The trail led right out to the opening and down into some woods below, so they probably were not there to look at the fabulous floral display. Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones

Rosy plectritis, death camas, and cliff penstemon blooming beautifully on the side ridge.

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 »

Specialties of the North Umpqua

Kalmiopsis fragrans growing within sight of Bohemia Mountain in Lane County (still with some snow on top!)

I just went on my first overnight camping trip of the year (June 26, 27). While I can do some areas of the North Umpqua in Douglas County on a long day trip, it is tedious spending that much time driving, and there isn’t much time left for exploring when I get there. So, as often as I can stand it, I go on short one or two night trips to get farther afield. Any more than that and I can’t keep track of everything I’ve seen and it takes too much time going through my photos and plant lists when I return. For this trip, I wanted to explore the area near Steamboat and along the Lane and Douglas county borders. There are a number of wonderful plants in Douglas County that have rarely, if ever, been found just north in Lane County. It seems like a worthy challenge to discover some of these on “our” side of the county line.

The chief specialty of this area, and one of the rarest and most revered plants in Oregon, is kalmiopsis, named for its flowers’ resemblance to Kalmia (mountain and bog laurel, for example). Its name is used for the Native Plant Society of Oregon’s yearly journal. There are two species, both found nowhere outside of Oregon. The more famous is Kalmiopsis leachiana, namesake of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Siskiyous. The species found in Douglas County is now known as Kalmiopsis fragrans. Its leaves are indeed aromatic, the undersides being covered with small glands. This stunning, low-growing shrub clings to shaded outcroppings of a specific porous rock that has a distinctive purplish color—like it has had blackberry juice spilled on it. I’ve heard it referred to as tuffaceous rock, but I know zip about geology. The higher sites I know of were in full perfect bloom (for its protection, locations are not posted publicly!). This plant is tantalizingly close to Lane County—only about 7 miles from the border—but has never been discovered outside of eastern Douglas County. Read the rest of this entry »

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