Posts Tagged ‘gentian’

Big Surprises at Fish Creek Valley

I’d been looking forward to going to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide all year, but I just couldn’t seem to squeeze a camping trip down there into my schedule earlier in the summer. Then, in late July, the Whiskey Complex fire erupted east of Tiller, just 9 miles west of Donegan Prairie, one of my planned destinations. So much for that. But last week I was lying awake in the middle of the night, my mind wandering all over the place as it often does in the wee hours, and I thought, to hell with worrying about the smoke, I’ll just go to the north end of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. Fish Creek Valley is one of my favorite places, and there are lots of late-blooming flowers to make a trip in August worthwhile. Unlike many ideas born in the middle of the night, this one still seemed realistic in the morning, so a couple of days later, I packed up my van and headed south.

Rattlesnake Mountain looms right above Fish Creek Valley. The smoke in the air makes it seem much farther away.

Rattlesnake Mountain looms right above Fish Creek Valley. The smoke in the air makes it seem much farther away.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Last Wave of Flowers at Lowder Mountain

A gorgeous hoary comma nectaring on a coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis).

A single explorer’s gentian (Gentiana calycosa) blooms near the trail where it can be studied close at hand.

Earlier this week (August 18), Sabine Dutoit, Andrew Mylko, and I went to see what was left at Lowder Mountain and take a quick look at Quaking Aspen Swamp. I was actually surprised at how far along things were at Lowder, no doubt the recent hot days pushed a few more plants over the edge. There were still a number of ericaceous woodland plants in good bloom, including Pyrola picta and Chimaphila umbellata. At the small wetland that empties into Quaking Aspen Swamp, Kyhosia bolanderi and Parnassia cirrata were in bloom along with some early Stachys cooleyae. These were down in QAS as well. Lowder Mountain is a great place for butterflies earlier in the season, but they seemed to be disappearing along with the flowers.

My favorite spot at Lowder is the rocky ridge the trail passes by partway up. This is where some of the uncommon rock-loving plants occur, especially on the small north-facing cliff side. Not surprisingly, most everything is finished here so long after the moisture has disappeared. Seeds were ripe on Castilleja rupicola, Eremogone pumicola, Silene douglasii, and Lomatium hallii, and already gone from the early-blooming Phlox diffusa. But there are two special plants here that are just peaking now: Gentiana calycosa and Campanula rotundifolia. Both inhabit the north side of the ridge and are quite difficult to access for closeups. The Campanula especially is way down the cliff. I didn’t see it here for years. Binoculars are a must here and even more so on the upper cliffs below the summit. Read the rest of this entry »

Post Categories
Archives
Notification of New Posts