Posts Tagged ‘gentian’

More Discoveries along the Calapooya Crest

Cascade gras-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Ever since our early June trip to the meadow along Road 3810 on the south side of Loletta Peak (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel), John Koenig and I had been planning to return to see the later blooming plants, especially the Cascade fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) that we found there. Just before we had planned to go, Ed Alverson e-mailed me about the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) we had discovered there. He’s been studying the scattered populations on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. The timing was perfect, as we were able to take Ed along on August 12 to see the population in what we were now calling “Aspen Meadow.” We had been somewhat concerned with all the fires down in Douglas County, especially the Potter Mountain complex burning just east of Balm Mountain (thankfully not actually on Potter Mountain). But other than some drifting smoke above, we had no problems reaching our destination and enjoying what was an otherwise lovely day. Read the rest of this entry »

Singing the Blues at Tidbits

Explorer's gentian (Gentiana calycosa) growing out of a crack in the rock face at the base of the "east Tidbit". Seeing this same plant well over a decade ago was what first made me wonder if these rock-loving gentians were really the same species as those that grow in wetlands in the High Cascades and elsewhere in the West.

On Friday (September 23), Nancy Bray, Ingrid Ford and her adorable dog Bogy, and I headed up to Tidbits to see the gentians. I had planned to get up there early in the season to see the many great plants that grow on the massive rock formations, but there are just too many places to visit. But although it was actually the first day of fall, there are still a few things to see. Thank goodness for the gorgeous gentians. They are somewhat like dessert after a great meal, saving the best for last, the final sweet treat that lingers with you and tides you over until the next flower season. There are not very many species of Gentiana in the Cascades, and they are never terribly common. Tidbits is one of the few places in the Western Cascades with a good show of gentians, so it is always worth a late season trip. Read the rest of this entry »

The Quest for Enemion Flowers at Table Rock

Clackamas iris (Iris tenuis)

Yesterday (July 29), my husband Jim and I were invited to join Ed Alverson of the Nature Conservancy on a trip north to Table Rock Wilderness to meet up with Daniel Mosquin of the UBC Botanical Garden. I’ve been wanting to get Jim up to see Table Rock’s huge cliff for years, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to head up there with trained botanists, especially if I didn’t have to do the driving. Neither Ed nor Daniel had ever been to Table Rock either. Daniel, whom some of you may recognize from Botany Photo of the Day, was on a mission to photograph the rare Enemion hallii that grows there. He was down in Oregon on other business just for the weekend, so we were crossing our fingers that we could find it in bloom.

Last year (see Rock-hopping at Table Rock Wilderness), it was blooming beautifully on July 22. We were a week later on an even later-blooming year, and I’d seen it blooming well earlier in July on a drier year, so I had high hopes. I started to get a little nervous as we walked along the old road that now serves as the beginning of the trail. The Penstemon serrulatus that was blooming so profusely last year was just beginning. Are we still several weeks later than last year, already a late year? One bonus was that we found the last blooms of another, even rarer plant, Clackamas iris (Iris tenuis), which was completely finished on last year’s trip. This Oregon endemic is found almost entirely in Clackamas County. It reminded me a lot of some Iris japonica I have in my garden, with its wide leaves and spreading habit. It turns out it is the only western American species in the crested iris group (section Lophiris), which includes most of the prettiest irises in my garden including I. gracilipes, I. lacustris, I. cristata, as well as I. japonica. The rest are Asian or eastern North American, so Clackamas iris is a real anomaly.

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Rock-hopping at Table Rock Wilderness

Anyone who has read my blog reports probably can tell that cliffs are my favorite habitat. There’s just something awe inspiring about seemingly delicate flowers clinging to life high up on sheer rock. How do they even get there? There must be a lot of luck involved getting a seed into a tiny crevice on the side of a cliff where the roots can take hold. The contrast between the ephemeral flowers and age-old rock also appeals to the artist in me.

Fool's huckleberry (Menziesia ferruginea) growing on the giant talus slope

The cliffs at Table Rock have to be some of the most amazing in the Western Cascades. Over 300′ high in places, they stretch for almost 500 yards on the northeast-facing side, above the trail, and almost as much facing east—an area that looks too scary to explore. They have also created massive talus slopes. The trail crosses the talus, which in places continues over 200′ both above and below. This much rock creates what must be the equivalent to a major metropolitan area for pikas. Read the rest of this entry »

Calapooya Report

I’ve been waiting all summer to get back to exploring the Calapooyas, so yesterday I went up Coal Creek Road to Bradley Lake and Loletta Lakes. Most of this is in Douglas County, but it is all on the north side of the Calapooya crest and in the Willamette National Forest (just barely). They really ought to have run the county line along the Calapooya Divide.

Western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis) is a lovely late-blooming composite with a woody base.

I made a couple of quick detours on my way up to check on the Piperias. Youngs Flat Picnic Area was filled with people camping, but luckily they seem to be leaving the woods on the north side alone. The Piperia elongata are still blooming pretty well, although past peak. I also checked the woods across from Mutton Meadow where I’d seen about 30 Piperia plants in the spring. I managed to find 5 flower stalks. Only 2 had any flowers left. I’m pretty sure they’re P. transversa as they looked white with straight spurs. It also makes sense because they start blooming a bit earlier than elongata, so should be farther along than the P. elongata at nearby Youngs Flat.

When John and I went up Coal Creek Rd in early July, the road was a bit of a mess, lots of branches and rocks. Looks like the road has been cleaned up and even graded. I was thrilled about this until I got up to the base of the cliffs where the Epilobium luteum was in full bloom. It looks like they pushed some of the gravel right into the wet ditch and scraped some of the ditch as well. There were slashed branches. There’s still a lot of good habitat, but this is really upsetting. I don’t know what the official status of Epilobium luteum is, but this is probably the biggest population I’ve seen, and there are loads of other pretty things like Claytonia cordifolia in there. I hate to see them buried in dirt. I’m also concerned about messing with the water flow all these plants depend upon.

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Trip to the Calapooyas

Yesterday I had a terrific day exploring the Calapooya area and found lots of cool things. My destination was Bradley Lake (south of Bristow Prairie in Douglas County, just inside the Willamette NF) but I stopped many times on the way up and back. I had found a plant list for the lake on the OFP Atlas (Lois Kemp 1994) when I was searching for Spiranthes locations, hoping to find some Spiranthes stellata among the S. romanzoffiana sightings.

Bradley Lake is shallow, a great place for aquatics.

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