Posts Tagged ‘Phacelia’

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 »

NARGS Annual Campout Hike to Grizzly Peak

For this year’s annual camping trip, my friend Kelley Leonard, of the Siskiyou Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, planned a great trip in their neck of the woods, near Ashland. We had perfect weather, no mosquitos, and, in spite of the severe drought they are having down south, there were lots of beautiful wildflowers. Since I was up in Portland earlier in the week (speaking to the Columbia-Willamette chapter of NARGS and hiking at Table Rock Wilderness—a trip unfortunately severely curtailed by another flat tire), I wasn’t able to join everyone until Friday afternoon. They got back from Hobart Bluff just as I was arriving, but I was steered toward some meadows just down the road from our campground at Hyatt Lake and had a lovely few hours (being antisocial!) chasing butterflies with my camera and admiring unfamiliar plants, including California stickseed (Hackelia californica), toothed owl-clover (Orthocarpus cuspidatus ssp. cuspidatus), and gorgeous Roezli’s penstemon (Penstemon roezlii), along with lots of buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.).

Toothed owl-clover, Roezl's penstemon, and sulphur buckwheat on near the east side of Hyatt Lake.

Toothed owl-clover, Roezl’s penstemon, and sulphur buckwheat near the east side of Hyatt Lake.

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Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock

Cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola on the north side of the rock. To the east, Diamond Peak is about the only mountain with any snow left.

Cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola) on the north side of the rock. To the east, Diamond Peak is about the only mountain with any snow left. The large burned area to its right is the aftermath of the Tumblebug Fire, which burned in September of 2009, just after my first trip to Pyramid Rock.

Pyramid Rock is one of a number of large rocks that pop out of the otherwise largely forested Western Cascades. I’d originally heard of it because it has one of the few populations of Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana) south of the Columbia Gorge. My first trip there was back in the fall of 2009 (First Trips to Pyramid Rock and Loletta Gravel Pit Rocks), and even though the only thing left in bloom was a little of the tiny least knotweed (Polygonum minimum), I was excited to find several other unusual species along with the little fleshy rosettes of the Lewisia. What hadn’t been reported yet for the site were three of the species I’ve since been finding a lot in the area, cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola), spring phacelia (Phacelia verna), and Sierra cliffbrake (Pellaea brachyptera). With all the interesting plants there, I’ve been wanting to get back ever since. The only trouble is, although it is in Lane County (a mere mile north of the Douglas County border), and it can be seen tantalizingly close from some of my favorite sites in the Calapooyas, including Bearbones Mountain, Heavenly Bluff, and the north end of the High Divide Trail near Bristow Prairie, it is on a long dead end road only accessible from Douglas County, so it’s not an easy place to get to for me. Read the rest of this entry »

A Heavenly New Site in Lane County

The site as seen from Bearbones Mountain a few miles to the southeast. It is unnamed on the map, but I could hear Horse Heaven Creek running below to the north, so I’m calling it “Heavenly Bluff.”

Discovery really is what gets my blood pumping. I had a spectacular day yesterday (July 4), and it had nothing to do with fireworks. Several weeks ago when I was on Bearbones Mountain (see Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones), I had noticed an open rocky area between there and Bohemia Mountain. I planned to head to Bearbones yesterday to see the next wave of flowers but wanted to see if I could even find this intriguing spot first. It’s at the end of a small spur road 920 off of 2213 just south of Johnson Meadows. I wasn’t even sure the road would be passable. I was quite pleased to find it was, although it clearly wasn’t used much and was lined with a dreadful amount of the bright yellow but nasty invasive Lotus corniculatus. It looked to be a very short bushwhack through some woods to reach the opening, but it was even easier than I expected. Someone had made a trail and lined it with pink ribbons. Who did that, and what could they be doing out here? The North Umpqua Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is in charge of this area, and they don’t have any records of projects there, so I may never know. The trail led right out to the opening and down into some woods below, so they probably were not there to look at the fabulous floral display. Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones

Rosy plectritis, death camas, and cliff penstemon blooming beautifully on the side ridge.

Yesterday (June 15), Dan Thomas, Nancy Bray, and I spent the day at Bearbones Mountain. I just love this little known jewel. So many interesting plants in such a small area. It’s a real melting pot, with plants more typical of the north, south, and east, all meeting together on a small, rocky knob. Few people travel this trail, so the plants are quickly filling in. We were surprised that most of the coralroots we saw seemed to be coming up right in the middle of the trail. We tried our best to avoid them, but as they were in bud and their reddish color blended in with the soil, it was difficult to spot them all, and on the return trip, we noticed several broken stalks we must have stepped on as we went up the trail.  Both my companions seemed happy at the diversity of plants we saw. There were many slender-tubed iris (Iris chrysophylla) and fairybells (Prosartes hookeri) in the woods. The fairybells are especially small along this trail, some only 4″ high. After spotting the white-flowered wands of Mitella trifida, we spent a while looking for the very similar M. diversifolia, so I could show them the difference in leaf and flower shape. They can be hard to spot among the showier plants, but there were quite a few. 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 »

A Steep Climb to the Top of Stone Mountain

From the gravel pit below, the cliffs on east side of Stone Mountain are impressive.

Yesterday (June 8), I returned to Stone Mountain, the little known cliffy peak Sabine and I first visited last fall (see A Visit to Stone Mountain). My main goal was to get to the top and explore the open south-facing side. Stone Mountain is shaped very much like a classic camping tent. From the narrow ridge at the top, it slopes steeply down on both the north and south sides, while the front is mainly vertical cliffs. The rocks are distinctly columnar jointed, creating beautiful patterns. In the gravel pit down below, there are piles of these perfectly faceted boulders. They look like they would be spectacular in a rock garden but, on closer inspection, they crumble down into slippery gravel—something that was even more obvious as I attempted to traverse parts of the south slope on top. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Phacelia at Mount June

Phacelia verna is found on gravelly or rocky slopes.

Needing to get back home earlier than usual, yesterday (June 23), I decided to head up to Mount June. It is one of the closest good flower hikes to my house and still one of my favorites. I had two goals in mind: to get better photos of spring phacelia (Phacelia verna) and to figure out how to get to the large west-facing meadow that is not along the trail. From many places in the Eugene-Springfield area, Mount June is easily visible to the southeast. In winter especially, a large open area facing the valley is clearly visible. The trail to the summit passes through a small meadow/outcrop area before reaching the relatively small opening where the old lookout once stood on the top. This is only a small part of the wonderful rocky habitat of this mountain. There is also a long ridge heading south below the summit that I’ve been exploring the last few years. But the west-facing meadow was still a mystery to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the Upper Meadows of Cloverpatch

The promised sunny day never materialized, but with all the rain we’ve had lately, John Koenig and I didn’t let the weather stop us from going up to Cloverpatch on Monday (May 24). John once had a survey plot in one of the oak patches near the trail, so he’d been there many times, but he’d never been to the upper meadows before. I was anxious to get to the upper west meadows I’d finally reached in February when little was in bloom. So we were excited to head out for a long day of exploring.

Rock feature in upper eastern meadow

Amazing rock feature in upper eastern meadow with joints that spread out like a fan

Much of what I’d seen earlier this month (read The Rocky Meadows of Cloverpatch) was still blooming including many fairy slippers. There was even a little Crocidium multicaule still blooming almost 3 months after I’d seen it there on my first trip this year. The balsamroot was much farther along though, and this was one of the highlights of the day. Their large, sunny yellow flowerheads brightened up the mostly cloudy day and more than made up for the fact that it sprinkled off and on for most of the afternoon. Luckily, these were very light showers that didn’t soak through clothes, and we were both prepared with rain pants for all the wet foliage we had to pass through. Read the rest of this entry »

Castilleja rupicola at Castle Rock

Today I went to Castle Rock. Things are a little later than last year, the Lathyrus lanszwertii is just coming into bloom. I did some exploring down below the south-facing rocks (down and right before the last switchback to the top). I was looking for better Claytonia rubra to photograph (found lots). I also found, just about to start blooming, a large patch of white Phacelia linearis. It is also white on Buckhead, Cloverpatch, Mt. Salem, and Youngs Rock. The only westside ones that I’ve seen that are the usual eastside purple are at Horse Rock Ridge. Also, I was really surprised I’d never seen them before, there were 3 blooming plants of Castilleja rupicola right over the north-facing cliff that can only be seen by climbing down below the top. They were blooming near the Saxifraga caespitosa and some pretty Valeriana scouleri (yes, got to change that on this list as well). It’s not so surprising it’s there considering it is on nearby Horsepasture, Lowder, and Tidbits. There may be more plants, but so little of those cliffs are safely visible. I’ve definitely been watching that cliff face for a few years now. Maybe they didn’t bloom last year because of the dry winter or some other fickleness.

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