Posts Tagged ‘Ikenick Creek’

Willows and More Blooming at Ikenick Creek

Sitka sedge (Carex aquatilis) blooming along the edge of the south pond in the northwest wetland.

Sitka sedge (Carex aquatilis) blooming along the edge of the south pond in the northwest wetland.

Crab spiders know that willows are insect pollinated and has caught an unsuspecting bee on Geyer's willow (Salix geyeriana).

Crab spiders know that willows are insect pollinated and lay in wait for prey like this unsuspecting bee on Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana).

On Friday (May 16), Dave Predeek and I went to check out some of the wetlands along Ikenick Creek in the Smith Ridge area. Dave is one of the few people I’ve met who was already familiar with this fascinating area. The willows were mostly still in bud two weeks ago (see Triple Treat up the McKenzie), so I thought this would be the perfect time to see them in bloom. Indeed it was. We spent most of our time exploring the large wetland just south of Road 2672. The large thickets of Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana) were all blooming. They are pretty easy to recognize because they have very small and relatively short catkins. In small patches near the southern end of the wetland, we found Sierra willow (Salix eastwoodiae) and Booth’s willow (S. boothii) in bloom. They both have much larger and showier flowers; the former has hairy ovaries while the latter has glabrous ovaries and fewer hairs on the leaves. I don’t think I could separate the males this time of year. Later on, the leaves of Booth’s willow are shinier, but this early they both have some hairs. Read the rest of this entry »

Triple Treat up the McKenzie

Left) A very fresh brown elfin on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) A echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

Left) A very fresh brown elfin (the purple scales don’t last long) on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) An echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

With the warm spring weather beckoning, Sabine and I headed up the McKenzie Highway on Wednesday (April 30) to see how the bloom was coming along in several favorite sites. Our first stop was to the main wetland at Ikenick Creek. I’d never been there anywhere near this early, and although there were lots of spring flowers on last spring’s early June trip (see The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek), I was a bit late for the willows. This year, I wanted to try to catch this area at the very beginning of the season. A few remnants of snow along the north-facing side of the road indicated it was indeed early here. The air was fantastic—so fresh and not hot yet. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw some blooming sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) by the roadside that was serving breakfast to a number of insects, including several brown elfins and echo (formerly spring) azures—an auspicious start to the day! Read the rest of this entry »

The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek

The pond in the northwest wetland was created by a beaver dam. Later in the summer, it is filled with aquatic plants.

The pond in the northwest wetland was created by a beaver dam. Later in the summer, it is filled with aquatic plants.

Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) and starflowers. All we needed was a moonwort (Botrychium spp.) to complete the celestial theme.

Sundews (Drosera rotundifolia) and starflowers. All we needed was a moonwort (Botrychium spp.) to complete the celestial theme.

I had been to the wetlands along Ikenick Creek four times before, but it had always been late in the summer to see the interesting aquatics, so on Friday (June 7), Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray and I headed up to Linn County to see the early flowers. The wetlands are hidden away on the west side of Highway 126, just across the road from Clear Lake. In fact, the lovely clear water of the lake is fed by Ikenick Creek. The day before our trip, the Forest Service had apparently done a controlled burn nearby, and while we were there, many trucks were pumping water out of the creek where it crossed Forest Road 2672. We had to park a little farther away and listen to the pumping all day, but it was a small price to pay to explore a really interesting wetland.

Actually there are four wetlands in an area the Forest Service has designated as the Smith Ridge Special Wildlife Habitat Area. There are several more just outside this area, and all together they refer to them as the Smith Ridge wetland complex. I didn’t know this when I first noticed the intriguing set of wetlands on Google Earth. Smith Ridge is not named on the maps, and although it does drop off hard along the east edge where Hwy. 126 heads south, when you’re in it, the area appears to be basically flat, so it’s hard for me to start using that name now. Whatever you want to call this area, these wetlands contain a diverse collection of wetland habitats, including wet meadows, bogs, sedge marshes, shrublands, swampy woods, creeks, and small ponds. Navigating numerous beaver channels and sudden deep holes in the thick layer sphagnum bog makes exploration tricky, but on this trip, we managed to get everyone back to the car with dry feet (not always so in the past!). Read the rest of this entry »

Late Bloomers at Echo Basin & Ikenick Creek

Fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) blooms at the end of the summer at Echo Basin.

Labor Day Monday (September 6) was a working day for me—if spending the day botanizing in a pretty wetland can ever be called “work.” After studying the Mimulus primuloides at Hills Peak (see Pikas, and a Coyote, and Monkeyflowers, Oh My!), I wanted to see some more populations in a different area of the Western Cascades. So I headed north to Echo Basin. I knew there’d be other late-blooming wetland plants as well. The air was very crisp when I arrived at the trailhead—a bittersweet reminder that autumn is just around the corner, and pretty soon I’ll be saying goodbye to the mountains until next spring. One of the first plants I noticed along the trail was blunt-sepaled starwort (Stellaria obtusa), one the inconspicuous plants whose distribution I’ve been trying to fill out. There were large, prostrate mats of it along much of the trail. I tediously checked many of them with my hand lens to make sure they really were S. obtusa, looking for four blunt sepals, round capsules, and hairs along the edges of the leaves. Only one fooled me by being the more well known look-alike, Stellaria crispa, with 5 sharp sepals and long capsules. Most of the ones I’ve seen haven’t formed quite such flat mats. I wish the plants would stop trying to trick me! Read the rest of this entry »

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