Posts Tagged ‘Crocidium’

Purple Milkweed Emerging on Milkweed Ridge

Purple milkweed is tinged with purple as it emerges, and its inflorescence is already well developed.

With my showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) at home emerging from the ground, I hoped the purple or heartleaf milkweed (A. cordifolia) would be up in the Rigdon area in southeastern Lane County. On May 2, I headed down to see if I could find the first plants. I started out by climbing up the hill at Big Pine Opening, the one site visible from Road 21 and the lowest elevation site in the area at 2300′. The milkweed is only in the northeast corner, above an old quarry, but it is a very healthy population. Sure enough, they were up! Having never seen them this early in the season, I was quite surprised to find the flower heads already formed as they emerge. They must be in a hurry to bloom! The plants come up quite dark, their glaucous leaves suffused with red-violet. This makes them quite easy to spot against green grass but hides them well in bare soil. They are often found in very rocky areas, but sometimes they seem to be happy enough in meadows with no rocks but perhaps gravelly soil beneath. I’m still trying to get an idea of their preferred habitats, but they certainly seem to want to be in well-drained soil. Read the rest of this entry »

First Flowers at Coal Creek Bluff

After discovering new sites for purple (or heartleaf) milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) in the Western Cascades last summer, my main goal for this spring and summer is to explore these lower elevation meadows in the Rigdon and North Umpqua areas of the Western Cascades for more milkweed sites—and hopefully more monarch sightings. Several weeks ago, John Koenig, Sheila Klest, and I tried to get to what I named “Coal Creek Bluff” last fall on my first visit there (see Final Outing of 2017). We drove across a thin layer of snow on the bridge across Coal Creek but were immediately stopped by a tree across the road. So we changed our plans and went back to “Monarch Meadow” and “Many Creeks Meadow”. John hadn’t been to Monarch Meadow, and Sheila hadn’t been to Many Creeks Meadow. It was an enjoyable day, and things were a little further along than the earlier trips I posted about most recently, but it was still quite early, so not much to report yet.

Gold stars light up the steep slope near the base of the open area. A glimpse of Coal Creek can be seen through the trees below.

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Golden-lined Banks of Deer Creek Road

Monkeyflowers painting the moist banks of Deer Creek Road

On Wednesday, May 3, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I enjoyed the unusually hot (88° according to the thermometer at the McKenzie Ranger Station!) but gorgeous day roadside botanizing in the McKenzie area. Nancy had never been to the beautiful seepy roadbanks along Deer Creek Road 2654, and Sabine and I hadn’t been for 3 years (see Triple Treat up the McKenzie). With all the rain we’ve had, I figured the area would be at its best this year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Late Start to a New Year of Botanizing

Wasp enjoying the flowers of Hooker’s fairybells (Prosartes hookeri)

With the rainy, cold winter transitioning into a rainy, cold spring, I’ve barely done any botanizing off my property this year. What few fair weather days we’ve had, I decided to stay home and protect my own wildflowers by removing blackberries—addictively satisfying work. My one break from the rain was heading down to the California desert for a few days in March (95° almost every day!) to see the “super bloom” at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Joshua Tree National Park (click on those links for my Flickr photo albums).

Enough wildflowers are popping up now that Sabine and I decided it was finally time to head to our favorite place to start the botanizing season. On Friday, April 28, we drove down to Hills Creek Reservoir and followed Road 21 as far as Mutton Meadow before heading back. It was a lovely day though crisp until the morning clouds eventually burned off. It’s still quite early, with almost nothing in bloom in Mutton Meadow, but we found plenty to see and enjoy.

This rocky oak-covered meadow area is just north of the reservoir. More meadows are hidden behind the ones along the road.

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Exploring Meadows Below Youngs Rock

Looking south from the lower meadow, there's a good view of Dome Rock and other areas of the Calapooyas, still with some snow.

Looking south across the lower meadow, there’s a good view of the Calapooyas, still with some snow. The bright green shrubs on the rocks are mock-orange (Philadelphus lewisii).

The Youngs Rock Trail in southeastern Lane County follows a south-facing ridge up through a string small meadows and openings. It’s a favorite of mine for both flowers and scenery, and I’d already been on various parts of the trail 23 times. I’d done some exploring off trail, but there were more meadows I hadn’t been to yet. Since it’s still early in the season for most of the flowers in the lower mountains, I thought it would be a good time to do some exploring to see if these meadows would be worth a trip during peak season. No one could accompany me on Saturday, April 30, but that was just as well as I hate to drag my friends out bushwhacking until I know how hard it will be and if it will even be worth the extra effort.

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First Taste of Spring

A beautiful mourning cloak basks in the warming sun at Campers Flat

A beautiful mourning cloak basks in the warming sun at Campers Flat

On Wednesday, February 24, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, Ginny McVickar, and I took advantage of the dry weather to head out to Hills Creek Reservoir south of Oakridge to look for the first wildflowers of the season. This has become an annual ritual, as it is usually warmer and drier down there, and the flower season gets an earlier start than on my property. While most of the early plants are small-flowered and not particularly showy (though still exciting in February!), the highlight of the trip is always the sheets of yellow gold stars (Crocidium multicaule). I was pretty sure we’d see some in bloom but not so sure the sheets of yellow on the cliffs along the reservoir would have kicked in yet. While the other two have seen this a number of times, this was the first time Ginny had been with us, so we were really pleased that the grand display was starting in one spot. If the rains keep coming, it should be stunning in March and may last for another month or two if it doesn’t dry out. The first Sierra gooseberry (Ribes roezlii) and Halls lomatium (Lomatium hallii) were just beginning. They ought to be quite beautiful in a few weeks, especially if we get more warm weather. Read the rest of this entry »

New Trail to the Base of Buffalo Peak

How many snakes do you think are here?

How many snakes do you think are here?

Back in January, I heard Bill Sullivan give a talk on new hikes he’s added to the latest version of his Central Oregon Cascades book. My ears perked when he mentioned the Forest Service had added a section to the North Fork trail, off the Aufderheide (Road 19), that passed along the base of the Buffalo Peak. I once climbed up from Road 1939 to the base of this grand rock feature on the north side and found one of my personal favorite plants, Heuchera merriamii, growing on the cliffs. I had wanted to explore the much larger south side that reaches almost to the river, so this new trail was a dream come true.

On Monday (April 7), Sabine and I decided to check  out the new trail section. We stopped at the ranger station in Westfir to double check the directions to the trailhead and were given a copy of an area map, showing the trailhead at the end of a spur road off of Road 1939, on the north side of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Read the rest of this entry »

First Day of Spring!

First day of spring and first post of 2014! It sure didn’t feel like the first day of spring when I got up on Friday (March 21) to 29°, frost, and fog. The weather forecast said it was going to be sunny and warm later in the day, but I dressed in 3 layers of clothing just in case. John Koenig and I then headed off for my favorite early spring site: Hills Creek Reservoir and Road 21. I’ve written about this wonderful roadside route many times (see other posts here). It is always so nice to see old friends—I meant the flowers and locations, but that goes for John too!

Sierra gooseberry (Ribes roezlii) in full bloom above the reservoir. It is abundant along the cliffs and rocky areas here.

Sierra gooseberry (Ribes roezlii) in full bloom above the reservoir. It is abundant along the cliffs and rocky areas here.

As we hoped, we drove out of the fog into clear, sunny skies when we reached the reservoir. It was quite chilly, however, and neither of us took off our heavy coats until much later in the day. We made a number of stops along the cliffs on the west side of the reservoir and were surprised to see a Moss’s elfin butterfly on the wing. According to the thermometer in the car, it was only 48° outside and felt colder than that with the wind chill. Moss’s elfins are one of the earliest butterflies to emerge in the spring. Some other early fliers overwinter as adults, but these little elfins overwinter as chrysalises, so they must be well adapted to cold temperatures. I didn’t get close enough to take a good photo as I didn’t want to disturb it too much when it needed to sit still and warm up. Read the rest of this entry »

First Hints of Spring

The weather forecasters promised a sunny day on Friday (February 15), and, at least in Oakridge, they were right. Nancy Bray and I were looking forward to a break from the gloomy fog we’ve had so much of this winter. So off we headed to Road 21, south of Oakridge, my favorite early season destination and usually the warmest place in eastern Lane County.

What a joy it is to see gold stars (Crocidium multicaule), one of the very first flowers of the spring.

What a joy it is to see gold stars (Crocidium multicaule), one of the very first wildflowers every year.

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First Outing of the New Year

“Gateway Rock” at the top. Large patches of low-growing buckbrush are found to the right of “Uncle Pete” tree.

The first buds appearing on gold star (Crocidium multicaule)

In spite of the dry winter we’ve been having, I haven’t gotten out much. I’ve been focusing on getting back to doing artwork rather than on botany the last few months, so this is my first post for quite a while. But today was another sunny day—although rather chilly—so Sabine, Ingrid and her darling poodle Bogy, and I headed over to the Hills Creek Reservoir area, one of our favorites any time of year. As always, we stopped along the cliffs that line the west side of the reservoir. This is one of the earliest spots to find blooming Crocidium multicaule. We’ve seen an amazing show of it here the last couple of years as a result of the wet springs (see Hills Creek Reservoir,  take 2). While we didn’t really expect to find any blooming on the second week of January, we did manage to see some small plants of these little annuals. Those growing right by the pavement seemed to be farther along and even had a few buds. Their lovely yellow flowers may well start to show up here in February. Read the rest of this entry »

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