Posts Tagged ‘Patterson Mountain’

From the Minute to the Majestic

In late August last year, I discovered a new rocky meadow just southwest of Patterson Mountain (see Exploring near Patterson Mountain). I wrote that I expected it to be blooming in May. Well, May is here, so it was time to see what it looked like in bloom. On Monday, May 9, John Koenig and I went up Road 1714 off of Patterson Mountain Road 5840. We parked at the quarry on the bend in the road and walked down the road for about a tenth of a mile. A very short walk through the woods brought us to the top of the east end of the steep meadow in a couple of minutes.

It can be hard to come up with a good name for a place so one doesn't have to refer to it as "that rocky meadow off Road 1714". The masses of Indian dream fern gave us the idea to name the meadow after it. The spring phacelia was perched on the rocky shelves above the ferns.

It can be hard to come up with a good name for a place, but we didn’t want to have to refer to this area as “that rocky meadow off Road 1714”. The masses of Indian dream fern gave us the idea to name the meadow after it.

Naked broomrape growing out of spring gold. Without digging the plants up to look for the attached haustorium, it is only a guess that they are parasitizing the spring gold.

Naked broomrape growing out of spring gold. Without digging the plants up to look for the attached haustorium, it is only a guess that they are parasitizing the spring gold.

I was thrilled to see so many brightly colored flowers after last year’s trip when most everything was dried out and brown. There were lots of purple larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) in full bloom as well as two slightly different shades of yellow lomatiums—both spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum) and the deeper yellow Hall’s lomatium (L. hallii) were abundant. Bright red paintbrushes were coming into bloom. They were quite variable. Some plants had the lobed leaves and wide, fluffy flower heads of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), while others had the unlobed leaves and narrow flower heads characteristic of frosted paintbrush (C. pruinosa). With the handlens I was able to find a few forked hairs on some of the plants, indicating at least some frosted paintbrush in their lineage. I’ve seen these mixed populations in many places in the area, so I wasn’t surprised. I assume the two species are hybridizing, but it would take DNA work to confirm my lay theory.

We poked around the east end of the meadow and finally discovered a small patch of Thompson’s mistmaiden, something I thought I’d seen dried plants of last year. It is so small, however, that I didn’t trust identifying it from seed, so I was pleased to find it in flower. We were very happy to find quite a few very bright purple flowers of naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). Their flowers were larger than usual, and from a distance we had trouble picking them out among the larkspur. I was surprised that they weren’t parasitizing the nearby wholeleaf saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia) where I frequently find them, but rather they were growing most often among the spring gold. Rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) was everywhere but just budding up, so there will be plenty of color later in the month. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring near Patterson Mountain

After all my exploring, I didn't have much time left for Patterson, so I only went as far as the Lone Wolf Shelter meadow, where there were dozens of reblooming alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) flowers.

After all my exploring, I didn’t have much time left for Patterson, so I only went as far as the Lone Wolf Shelter meadow, where there were dozens of reblooming alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) flowers.

With so few flowers left to see, in late summer and fall I shift my focus over to exploring new sites. Earlier this summer when I was contemplating a trip to Patterson Mountain, I looked at the area on Google Earth and noticed an intriguing south-facing opening right by the road and a small wetland a bit farther east. Neither of these are visible from the road, and I’d never realized they were there. I didn’t manage to get up there at the time, but a couple of weeks ago (August 27), I set out to check these two sites out.

The first spot turned out to be even easier to access than I could have imagined. I parked at a wide spot along Road 1714 just a tenth of a mile past the old quarry. In only about 2 minutes, I popped out through the rhodendron-filled woods on the south side of the road into a steep, rocky meadow. I immediately spotted the almost white, dried leaves of silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) as well as those of hotrock penstemon (Penstemon deustus)—this was certainly a promising sign! Although it’s not a very large meadow, I managed to spend a couple of hours taxing my brain trying to identify all the golden and dessicated remains of the now-ended blooming season. Read the rest of this entry »

Yellow is the Color of Spring at Patterson Mountain

Mountain buttercups spread across many parts of the wet meadow.

Mountain buttercups (Ranunculus populago) spread across many parts of the wet meadow.

Mountain buttercup has shiny, unlobed leaves that are oar-shaped to somewhat heart-shaped at the base.

Mountain buttercup has shiny, unlobed leaves that are oar-shaped to somewhat heart-shaped at the base.

On Tuesday, May 14, I spent a lovely afternoon enjoying the fresh flowers of spring in the newly melted out wet meadows of Patterson Mountain. The long drought was making the rock outcrops too depressing, so after a late start due to the morning fog, I thought Patterson Mountain would be a perfect place to forget about how dry everything had become (hopefully the last couple of days of showers has moistened things up at least a little bit). Some nice people had cleared out both the road and the trail already (thank you!), even though there were still patches of snow in several places. I was pleased to see there was still a little snow because I was really looking forward to seeing the early blooming buttercups. I was not disappointed. The  mountain buttercup (Ranunculus populago) was in its prime and putting on a great show. This beautiful flower is usually seen to the north, with the smaller Gorman’s buttercup (R. gormanii) filling the buttercup niche in most wetlands in Lane and Douglas counties. I spent quite a while taking photographs and looking the perfect plant where the leaf shapes were not hidden by surrounding plants. I did at last find what I was looking for. The only thing that would have made it better was a frog in the photo. I’ve taken photos of frogs among the buttercups before, and I did see a few on this trip but not next to the buttercups. The name Ranunculus is derived from Rana, the latin name from frog, so it just seems appropriate to sneak one into the photo. Read the rest of this entry »

Deception Butte again and a early look at Patterson Mountain

Heading back up to Deception Butte yesterday (May 29), I came upon a gorgeous bear on Rd 5847. This was probably about where Sabine and I saw a bear several weeks ago. Could it be the same bear? I imagine their territories are fairly large, but perhaps it is a related bear. It is always exciting to see a bear but especially exciting to see bears (or the same bear!) twice in one month. The flowers at Deception Butte are a little farther along than my last trip (see Dodecatheon at Deception Butte), but not as far as I expected. While the Dodecatheon pulchellum is finished, the Lomatium utriculatum still looks beautiful. Some little Hemizonella minima has started and there are beautiful flowering plants of Cerastium arvense down low on the far west end of the meadow.

circumhorizon arc

A circumhorizon arc above Deception Rock

Normally, my eyes tend to be fixed on the ground, looking for plants and stepping carefully across steep rocky areas such as this. Luckily, I looked up in time to see a surprising show of color in the sky. Two prisms of light were hanging along the same line. This really confounded me. It certainly wasn’t the arc of a rainbow, and I’d seen sundogs—they are vertical on either side of the sun. An internet search indicated this was most likely a circumhorizon arc, something I’d never heard of before. It’s part of a very large halo around the sun. It is only seen at certain times of year when the sun is very high. I was in fact looking due south right around when the sun was highest in the sky. I had seen a light halo around the sun as I drove east of Hwy 58 in the morning, so evidently the atmospheric conditions were right for some wonderful optic phenomena. For some amazing photos of circumhorizon arcs and other colorful atmospheric displays, check out Atmospheric Optics. Read the rest of this entry »

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