Posts Tagged ‘Cryptantha’

The Lure of the Little

Miniature gilia and Kellogg’s knotweed at Groundhog

On both my last two outings, part of my agenda was to relocate tiny annuals I had seen in the past. More and more, I find myself fascinated with these smallest of plants that have such a brief time in the sun. They just don’t get much respect. Sometimes I find myself ignoring large, showy perennials shamelessly calling attention to themselves with their bright colors. Instead, I look for the empty spaces in between the tall plants. Here lie an amazing array of Lilliputian annuals that can hardly be seen without kneeling down (hence the name “belly plants”). But up close, they are as fascinating as the relative giants above them.

At Bristow Prairie on July 13, my first stop was just a short ways from the road up a small wash. A couple of years ago (see Bristow Prairie’s Open Gravelly Slope), I had seen some tiny popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.). Unfortunately, they are so similar that to differentiate many species you need to see the nutlets. The various patterns of bumps and ridges and the placement of the scar where the nutlets were attached to the style help distinguish one species from another. I found the little plants pretty easily, and, unlike the previous trip, they had started to form nutlets. Even unripe, it is possible to see some of the necessary characteristics. I’m pretty sure they are harsh popcorn flower (P. hispidulus), as I had suspected, but it was good to finally get a look at the nutlets. Read the rest of this entry »

McKenzie Highway Cliffs Followup

This gorgeous, steep, rocky meadow lies “hidden in plain sight” above the highway.

Tiny moths were nectaring on many of the Cryptantha. Someone had evidently been eating the flowers as well.

It was a busy weekend with collecting, setting up, and attending the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower Festival. Finally I have a chance to report about my return trip last week (May 16) to the seepy roadcut and upper meadows along the McKenzie Highway. I was so excited about seeing the beautiful shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) along the road several days before (see Floriferous Roadcut Along McKenzie Highway) that I wanted to get back as soon as possible to look for more above the road before they finished blooming. Before I left the first time, I scouted possible ways up. I decided to follow my best guess that hiking up through the woods from the southern end would be possible. Thankfully, it was, and it didn’t take very long to get up to the southern edge of the rocky meadows part way up. The good news was that they were lots of shooting stars coming down the wet seepy slope. In fact, there were shooting stars everywhere—this population rivals that of Cloverpatch. There was also lots of Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii), along with abundant larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), common cryptantha (Cryptantha intermedia), and pretty field chickweed (Cerastium arvense). The bad news was that there was no way to walk across the slope. There were just too many large rock outcrops with dropoffs below. Read the rest of this entry »

New Cryptantha at Eagle Creek Road Quarry

This old quarry may not look like much, but several plants that are scarce in Lane County grow here including the pretty pink Ageratina occidentalis starting to bloom in the center of the photo.

Yesterday (August 21), I sort of took the day off from exploring the Western Cascades to join Gerry Carr, Dick Halse, Stu Garrett, and Barbara Ertter for a trip up to Fuji Mountain. Barbara is a Potentilla expert from the Jepson Herbarium who lives in Idaho, and she wanted to see the rare Potentilla up there. While Fuji is a High Cascade peak, the upper trailhead is accessed from the same road as Hells Half Acre. I wanted to show everyone the interesting old quarry spot along Eagle Creek Road 5883 that Sabine and I had discovered after our last trip to Fuji Mountain in 2007 (see Unusual Botanical Spot on Eagle Creek Road), just up from the Hells Half Acre trailhead, so after our successful hike to Fuji, we made a stop on the way back. The Ageratina occidentalis was coming into bloom and the lovely Parnassia cirrata was just starting to open. The green-flowered alumroot (Heuchera chlorantha), so abundant along the road, was just about finished. I was also able to show Dick Halse, an expert with our rockcress, an Arabis/Boechera that I’d seen there before. Alas, it was too over the hill for him to identify. Read the rest of this entry »

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