Posts Tagged ‘Cirsium’

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 »

Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake

Sliver Rock and Crater Lake forest fire

After we crossed over the crest of the Calapooyas, we had a great view to the south of Sliver Rock in the foreground just in front of Balm Mountain and Mount Bailey in the distance. We could also see the smoke spewing from the forest fire at Crater Lake. Most of the foreground is in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, parts of which burned in fires in 1996 and 2008.

After our terrific trip to Balm Mountain (see Another Beautiful Day on Balm Mountain), I really wanted to do some more exploring in the area, so I suggested to John Koenig that we check out the lower part of the south end of Balm. My idea was to go down Road 3810 to where it deadends at the Skipper Lakes trailhead, head up the trail to the small lakes, which I’d only been to once, and climb uphill to look at the rocks below where we’d ended up on our previous trip along the ridge. The roads have been quite iffy in the Calapooyas this year, but our friend Rob Castleberry had been at Balm right after us and had done part of Road 3810, so I had high hopes we might be successful. We headed up there August 4. Alas, we only made it a short ways farther than where Rob had been when we came upon several trees blocking the road. Not again! This has been a frustrating year for road conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring the West Side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide

Last summer, while I was hiking around the Yellow Jacket Loop at Hemlock Lake (Searching for Erythronium at Hemlock Lake), I saw something in the distance that always gets my heart racing—a big cliff. It was a ways off to the southeast, presumably in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. Checking it out later on Google Earth, it turned out the cliff was on the north side of Grasshopper Mountain in Douglas County (not to be confused with the one I usually go to in Lane County). I was thrilled to discover there is a trail right to the summit where an old lookout once stood, as well as a number of other trails in the area. While I had been to the east side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide a number of times—and it is one of my favorite areas in the Western Cascades—I’d never done much exploring on the west side. Twice I’d driven through Tiller to go up to Abbott Butte and Donegan Prairie, but my only real stop had been to the World’s Tallest Sugar Pine, just off of Jackson Creek Road 29. I was determined to do a trip there as soon as possible, but somehow I never made it. Every time I had a block of time when I could spend a few days camping, there was a heat wave, expectations of thunderstorms, smoke, or some other deterrent. Since it is more than a 3-hour drive to get there, I didn’t want to spend that much time or energy if the conditions weren’t optimal.

From Buckeye Lake, there is a great view of the imposing 800' cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain.

From Buckeye Lake, there is a great view of the imposing cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain.

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Butterflies at Bearbones

A large fritillary (Hydaspe I think) was one of four enjoying the flowers of mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii) once they emerged from the shade.

I don’t have time today to write a real report, and there weren’t any really exciting moments on my hike to Bearbones Mountain yesterday (July 27). I did add 5 species to my plant list and collected seed from a number of plants. As I scan them, I’ll add them to my seed gallery. It was a good day for butterfly photography, even though there weren’t many species, so I thought I would at least share some photos. I spent a good 45 minutes sitting (actually I was mostly teetering on a small ledge on a large rock) beside a perfectly blooming mockorange that was the focal point for all the butterflies in the area. Between the happy butterflies, the pleasant breeze, and the heavenly fragrance of the lovely flowers, I can’t imagine a better way to pass an afternoon. 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 »

Cirsium scariosum on Rattlesnake Mountain

Cirsium scariosum

Elk thistle (Cirsium scariosum) with a view of the Crater Lake Rim

I went back to Rattlesnake Mountain several days ago. I was too early for the bright yellow Orobanche, but I found a single O. fasciculata a few inches from Eriophyllum lanatum. I had no luck relocating that little Draba that might have been lonchocarpa, but I did hit it perfectly for the Cirsium scariosum. I was quite surprised to find 2 blooming plants right on the summit. There certainly were no blooming plants up there in the past, although I might have missed seedlings. I did what I had contemplated for a while and climbed down the rocky south-facing side. It was relatively easy (and safe) along the step-like south ridge. The west side is sheer cliffs. I passed a budding Orobanche pinorum right near an old dead stalk in the same spot I saw one on my last trip in 2007. The Hieracium greenei was also in bud. There are several old whitebark pines on the top, one with some cones (Rattlesnake Mtn is one of the highest points in the Western Cascades). Farther down, I was happy to see what looked like young trees, with no old dead branches.

As you go down the slope, it becomes more gravelly and almost plateaus before another cliff. This is where I have to go down the east slope to reconnect with the trail. That’s where the Cirsium scariosum I’d seen in the past was. I looked all around this area and found 4 large blooming plants and approximately 50 young plants. I was guessing they were monocarpic because there were no small blooming plants and I found one dead one with dried flower heads and tiny seedlings next to it. I just confirmed that on the FNA website. I couldn’t bear to harm the beautiful blooming plants, but I did press one youngster for the Herbarium. I hope it is useful. The population seems quite healthy. I wonder if it is expanding, or I just didn’t look hard enough on my other trip to this spot. I will have to check it again in a few years and see how it has changed.

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