Posts Tagged ‘Ranunculus’

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 »

Quaking Aspen Swamp is Decorated in Pink

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends marsh marigolds.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends, marsh marigolds.

Mother Nature is an avid decorator, so much so that she changes her color scheme every few weeks. On Sunday (May 25) at Quaking Aspen Swamp, she was going for a pink and white theme with yellow accents. On the way down the trail were many western trilliums (Trillium ovatum), some fresh white, others aging to pink and even purple. Pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) were in their prime. White candyflower (Claytonia sibirica) was in bloom, and its larger cousin, heart-leaf miner’s lettuce (C. cordifolia), was just beginning along one of the side creeks. Last week at Elk Camp, its anthers were opening up to reveal black pollen, but here they kept with the theme and showed only pink anthers. The little red and white flowers of vine maple (Acer circinatum) fit in well. Scattered round-leaved violets (Viola orbiculata) and a lone glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) added touches of yellow.

The open wetland was quite stunning. Grand sweeps of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) covered much of the area with their white and pink blossoms. Underneath, trying to get noticed, were large patches of Gorman’s buttercup (Ranunculus gormanii). Despite their bright yellow flowers, they are just too small and too close to the ground to get much attention under the far larger marsh marigolds and shooting stars. This is the common buttercup of wetlands in the southern half of the Western Cascades, but it was my first time seeing it this year, as the last few wetlands I’ve been to were all home to the larger and showier but less common mountain buttercup (R. populago). Interesting how almost every Cascade wetland seems to have one and only one species of buttercup. North of the mountain buttercup sites, water-plantain buttercup (R. alismifolius) seems to predominate. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

More Discoveries Just South of Bristow Prairie

I had to wade into this little pond to photograph this amazing display of white water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis).

I had to wade into this little pond to photograph the amazing display of white water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis).

After our great day on Friday (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John and I were both anxious to do more exploring near Bristow Prairie. We had originally thought we might be able to head down along the trail to the south, but we ran out of time on Friday, so we thought it would be well worth a return trip. I wanted to get back before the heatwave dried up all the little annuals, so we headed back up again on Monday, July 1 (July already!).

We wanted to hike in from the southern trailhead, which is a little ways past Bradley Lake, so we headed up Coal Creek Road 2133. We stopped briefly at a seep along the roadcut where we found a new population of Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii). Unfortunately, a whole family of ticks also discovered me. I had to flick at least 10 off my pants before entering the car. I really hate ticks, but the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual. At least we got the low point of the day out of the way quickly. Although I wanted to get the hike done first and make our stops on the way back, especially because the heat of the day, we couldn’t help ourselves and had to check out at least a few of our favorite places along this long but floriferous route. A shallow pond was filled with water buttercup. Many butterflies were enjoying the spot, too. One of them, a hoary comma, became enamored of John and spent quite some time checking out his hat, shirt, and binoculars. We finally had to send him on his way, so we could get back into the car and on our way. Just a little ways before the trailhead, I finally got to experience the fabulous bloom of a large area of spreading phlox, growing in what look like they might be gravel piles created when the road was built. I’d collected seeds there before but had never been early enough for the flowers. 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 »

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 »

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