Posts Tagged ‘Platanthera’

Late Season Visit to Monarch Meadow

Purple milkweed going to seed stands conspicuously in the otherwise dried out meadow.

As July ended, super hot weather was predicted for the first week of August. I figured I’d better get out one more time before getting stuck inside for a week (or most of the month, as it turned out). So on July 31, I headed back to what I call Monarch Meadow, southeast of Oakridge, to look for ripe purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) seeds and any sign of monarchs. It was in the low 90’s by afternoon, so I wasn’t up for anything taxing, but a stiff breeze kept me surprisingly comfortable.

The glistening coma (tuft of long hairs) on the purple milkweed seeds and the shapely purple pods add another season of beauty to this lovely species.

A chrysalis hanging from large-flowered collomia. Monarch chrysalises are usually transparent after the butterfly emerges, so I’m guessing either this is a different species or the butterfly did not survive the chrysalis stage.

The milkweed was completely finished blooming, and many of the leaves were drying up, so I didn’t expect to see any caterpillars or adult monarchs. I hoped to maybe find a chrysalis, but that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. But amazingly enough, some fading flowers of large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora) caught my eye, and there, hanging from a leaf, was an empty chrysalis. While I can’t be sure it was that of a monarch, it was the same shape. There were butterflies in the meadow, and the first time I caught sight of orange flying by I hoped for a second it would be a monarch. Instead, it was one of many California tortoiseshells on the wing in the area. As I’d seen on my trip to Echo Basin (see previous report), tortoiseshells were suddenly arriving in the Western Cascades in great numbers. There were dozens of them flying up and down the river by Campers Flat when I went to cool off at the end of the day. So glad to have them back!

Lots of grasshoppers of many colors were jumping around the meadow. This one perfectly matched the color of the dead, non-native dogtail grass (Cynosurus echinatus).

Western rayless fleabane is not what you’d call a showy species, but the spider in the back attests to the fact that it is of interest to insects as it blooms when most other flowers are gone.

Monarch Meadow was quite dried out, as one would expect at an elevation of 2400′ after 7 weeks of drought, but there still a few flowers in bloom. On my earlier trip here in June (see Hidden Meadow Reveals a Thrilling Secret), I had spotted an odd plant I had guessed was a composite, although it didn’t even have any buds yet. It looked similar to the common leafy fleabane (Erigeron foliosus), but the growth habit wasn’t quite right. After seeing it later in the season at several other low elevation meadows in the area, and finally spotting it in bloom, I had identified it as western rayless fleabane (Erigeron inornatus), a species I’d never even heard of before. In fact, I found it in five different sites this summer. This was my first time back to this site, so I was happy to see it still blooming to confirm my guess that it was the same species as at all the other sites. As a low-elevation species, I’d missed it in the past by always moving up to higher elevations by the time it bloomed.

The tiny flowers of sticky birdbeak (Cordylanthus tenuis) appear quite late in the season. You can imagine a resemblance to the related but much showier paintbrushes (Castilleja spp.).

Sticky birdbeak (Cordylanthus tenuis) was finally in bloom. This species is also uncommon but appears frequently in the Rigdon area and in the other purple milkweed spots. After collecting some seeds of meadow plants, including some of the milkweed, whose capsules were just starting to ripen, I headed back down to Rigdon Road 21 and over to Mutton Meadow to look for more seeds to collect. The sticky birdbeak is also abundant there. A few other late bloomers were in evidence in vernally moist spots in this meadow. The airy white inflorescences of Gairdner’s yampah (Perideridia gairdneri) stood well above the other dried up plants. Their tubers must store a lot of water in the spring for them to send up the leaves and flowers after most everything else has died. The pink-flowered densely-flowered boisduvalia (Epilobium densiflorum) is a late bloomer that can be found in low-elevation seeps and vernally moist meadows. I hadn’t noticed it there before, but again, visiting areas at the end of their seasons can often be quite interesting and worthwhile. All in all, it was quite a pleasant day, even more so a month later as I write this, stuck in the house surrounded by thick smoke and unable to go back there until the rains return and douse the Staley Fire in the Rigdon area.

Chaparral rein orchid (Platanthera [Piperia] elongata), also known as long-spurred piperia, is a late-blooming woodland orchid (in our area anyway). Although uncommon in Oregon, it grows in a number of places in the Rigdon area, so finding it in the forest on the way up to Monarch Meadow wasn’t a surprise.

Hidden Gem Near Kwiskwis Butte

Lady ferns and white bog orchids grew on lovely floating log gardens at one end of the pond.

Lady ferns and white bog orchids grow on lovely floating log gardens at one end of the pond.

Threeway sedge is a distinctive sedge graminoid.

Threeway sedge is a distinctive graminoid.

The Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest is doing some surveys in search of the rare whitebeak sedge (Rhynchospora alba). District botanist, Molly Juillerat, invited me to join her and Sandra Klepadlo-Girdner, another botanist with the district, to survey a small wetland near Kwiskwis Butte (formerly Squaw Butte), near Oakridge and just east of Heckletooth Mountain. John Koenig also came along for the outing. I had been intrigued by a plant list for this area that he had compiled along with members of NPSO 20 years ago. He didn’t remember the area and was sure the list was for another site—even after our trip—until he checked the location data for his list after returning home. Turns out they had accessed this hidden spot from a different direction. After hundreds of trips to Cascade wetlands, I too have trouble keeping them all straight! Read the rest of this entry »

Butterfly Survey at Groundhog Mountain

Elephant head (Pedicularis groenlandica) blooming in a boggy section of the wetland at the end of Road 462.

Elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica) blooming in a boggy section of the wetland at the end of Road 462.

While the Sierra Nevada blues (Agriades [Plebejus] podarce) were out and about, Willamette National Forest Service wildlife biologist Joe Doerr organized one last group butterfly survey. Now that we knew they were definitely established in the Calapooya Mountains (see the previous post, More Butterfly Surveying in the Calapooyas), we wanted to know if they had moved north across the Middle Fork of the Willamette. The area around Groundhog Mountain has an extensive network of wetlands, most of which have abundant mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi), its host food plant, as well as lots of bistort (Bistorta bistortoides), its favorite nectar plant. If they were going to populate anywhere to the north of the Calapooyas, I thought Groundhog would be the ideal spot, although I had no real expectations of finding them there since I’d been there over three dozen times and never spotted them. Still, it was worth checking. And any data is important. So on Monday, July 11, Joe, Cheron Ferland, Lori Humphreys, and I, along with 4 botanists from the Middle Fork district headed off to Groundhog. Read the rest of this entry »

NARGS Campout Day 1: Bristow Prairie

While John looks at plants, Jim and Peter are admiring the view from atop one of the smaller side rocks below the large pillar rock near the beginning of the trail.

While John looks at plants, Jim and Peter are admiring the view from atop one of the smaller side rocks below the large pillar rock near the beginning of the trail.

It was again my turn to organize the annual camping trip for a group of Oregon members of the North American Rock Garden Society, and while it would be an obvious choice for me to pick somewhere near me in the Western Cascades, it was actually the rest of last year’s group (see NARGS Annual Campout Hike to Grizzly Peak) that came up with the idea that we should go to the Calapooya Mountains. Apparently, I’d mentioned the area often enough to pique their interest (imagine that!). Scouting for this trip and the abnormally low snow pack were the two main reasons I’ve pretty much spent the entire last two months exploring the Calapooyas. In fact, the first time I made it as far north as Linn County was just a few days ago on a trip to Tidbits.

With the blooming season as far along as it has been, I planned the trip for June 18–21, and I’m so glad I did. If we had done it this weekend, we would have roasted in this heatwave. Instead, we had beautiful weather with very pleasant temperatures. For our first day, we went up to Bristow Prairie to do the north end of the High Divide trail as far as the beautiful rock garden—the highlight of the day, not surprisingly among a group of rock plant lovers. Since some of our normal attendees weren’t able to come this year, I invited some local NPSO friends to join us for day trips. On Friday, June 19th, in addition to Robin and her dog Austin, Kelley, Peter, Christine and her husband Yaghoub, and me, we were joined by my husband, Jim, and Dave Predeek and John Koenig. It was a really good group and far more men than usual! Here are some brief highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Insects and Flowers at Saddleblanket and Elk Camp Wetlands

It had been 4 weeks since I had been to the wetlands at the base of Saddleblanket Mountain and in the area near Elk Camp, so since I am trying to track the whole season of bloom there, it was time for a return visit. John Koenig had never been to the wetlands, so he accompanied me on Thursday, July 11. With John along, I took advantage of his knowledge of graminoids to try and learn a bit more about the many sedges, grasses, rushes, and woodrushes that are found in wetlands. While I can’t remember everything he showed me, I was happy to make some progress and learn to at least recognize some of the species, even if I can’t remember all their names yet.

Platanthera dilatata

We couldn’t have timed it any better for the white bog orchids, which were at peak bloom and in perfect shape.

Read the rest of this entry »

Group Trip to Blair Lake

The group following the narrow trail through the meadow. Lilies and lovage abound.

Last Friday (August 5), I helped lead a field trip to Blair Lake with Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork Ranger District botanist. It was a lovely day and very relaxing for me, especially not having to drive—Molly and two other Forest Service employees, Kate and Anna, took care of that. There were lots of flowers in bloom. The brightest and most noticeable plant was subalpine spiraea (Spiraea splendens). Its gorgeous bright pink flowers lined the road. A few hybrids (called S. xhitchcockii) between this species and the later blooming hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) were evident. These are somewhat cone-shaped—an intermediate form between the relatively flat tops of splendens and the narrow wands of douglasii. There were also multitudes of tiger lilies (Lilium columbianum), always a favorite. Since one of my fascinations is plants that close part of the day, I watched carefully as the pretty blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense) seemed much more abundant after a few hours. I’ve waited before for them to open so I could photograph them. It seems they are late risers, preferring to keep their petals closed up until around noon. Until then, they are much harder to spot. Read the rest of this entry »

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