Posts Tagged ‘Saxifraga’

Milkweed is Up and Dippers are Out

One of the milkweeds was close to the cliff edge above the quarry. Thank goodness for the long zoom on my camera so I could take the photo from a safe distance from the edge.

On Monday, May 4, I headed out to the Rigdon area southeast of Oakridge to check on the purple or heartleaf milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia). At home, my little seedlings had been germinating, and some of last year’s seedlings were reemerging, so I was pretty sure the milkweed would be up at Big Pine Opening. I was surprised to see how tall some of the plants were, and several even had a few open flowers. I relocated the “chia pet” milkweed plant(s) from last year (see Three Trips in a Row to Rigdon). It was still growing in the same bizarre manner. I’m really puzzled by this odd plant, but I’ll just have to watch it as it develops. I wonder if it will flower eventually.

Last year’s chia pet-like clump of purple milkweed is up again at Big Pine Opening. Comparing it to last year’s photo, it looks like it has fewer, larger shoots, but it is still way more congested than a normal plant.

Big Pine Opening is an open slope at the intersection of Road 21 and gravel Road 2135. On the side facing the gravel road, the hillside was been carved out for a quarry. Unfortunately, the milkweed only grows on the top of the slope on the side above the old quarry. After seeing milkweed growing in the relics of a quarry at “Maple Creek Meadow” (see Surveying Milkweed at “Maple Creek Meadow”), I’d wondered whether the milkweed might be able to grow in the quarry itself at Big Pine Opening. After checking out the milkweed at the top, I went back down to the road and walked partway up the talus in the quarry—I wasn’t up to the difficult task of going high up the loose rock, but, with my binoculars, I was able to spot two patches growing in the gravel along the north side, in the partial shade of a couple of young ponderosa pine. There appeared to be at least a dozen plants large enough to be in bud. One more plant was growing in the main slope. I’m not sure if I can get close enough to the plants for a good count, but I’m just pleased the population is expanding into the quarry side. I suspect there might have been more milkweed on that side before the quarry was created, so maybe they are repopulating below where they once grew. Read the rest of this entry »

A Day Full of Surprises

Looking past the steep north side of the rock, you can see Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak in the distance.

Looking across the steep north side of Pyramid Rock, you can see Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak in the distance.

The proofs for the Flora of Oregon arrived from the printer last week, so I had to take some time off of botanizing to help read through the manuscript one more time and then make a bunch of changes. I had hoped to join some researchers who were visiting the sites in the Calapooyas where there were disjunct populations of Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana), normally found much farther north. Since I didn’t finish making corrections to the Flora until it was too late for their hikes, I decided to go back up to one of the sites, Pyramid Rock, where I had seen it in all its delicate beauty last year (see Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock). On my past trips, I had made it an overnight trip coming up from Steamboat because of the 25 miles of gravel required to get there from the north. But I didn’t have time to camp out, so I decided to just tough it out in one day. Unfortunately, all my usual hiking buddies were already occupied, so on on Friday, June 12, I headed up Coal Creek Road 2133 by myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Flowers Along Cougar Reservoir

Gold stars likes the moss along the road. Unfortunately the highway department does not.

Gold stars likes the moss along the road. Unfortunately the highway department does not.

Last Wednesday, April 3, Nancy Bray and I went to see what was blooming on the cliffs along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. I frequently explore the similar habitat along Hills Creek Reservoir, about 30 miles to the south, but had never spent any time along Cougar Reservoir until last year (see Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir). This is probably in large part because the trails I frequent near Cougar Reservoir (Lowder Mountain, Quaking Aspen Swamp, and Olallie Mountain) are accessed by the road that crosses the dam, missing much of the good habitat along the west side of the reservoir, and by the time the higher elevation blooming season is in gear, the roadside plants are mostly finished. On the other hand, at Hills Creek Reservoir, most of my favorite hikes, including the Calapooya Mountains sites, require that I drive past the roadside cliffs on the west side, which I seem to do on a weekly basis. I’ll have to add Cougar Reservoir to my favorite early season botanizing sites because it is really floriferous and has more seepy cliff than I’ve seen anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry »

Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir

The stream running down the concrete-lined ditch along the base of the cliff is filled with plants that have seeded or fallen down from above.

The weekend before last at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower Festival, I was surprised to see someone had brought in blooming cliff penstemon (Penstemon rupicola). It was (and is still) blooming in my garden, but I didn’t know of any low elevations sites, south of the Columbia Gorge anyway, where it would be blooming this early. It turns out, Tobias Policha had been collecting along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. He told me the penstemon was blooming along the roadcut. How had I never noticed that? He also saw a rare sedge there. I’d passed it many times and wondered about the fountain-like grassy clumps on the wet rocks. I’ve explored the wonderful roadcut cliffs along Hills Creek Reservoir countless times, but, although I’d thought about it, I’d never stopped to check the similar habitat along Cougar Reservoir. Read the rest of this entry »

Cloverpatch is in the Pink

Could anything be prettier than hundreds of shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) perched on a rocky seep?

Quite by accident, yesterday’s trip to Cloverpatch with Sabine Dutoit and Doramay Keasbey was on the exact same date as last year’s with John Koenig—May 24 (see Back to the Upper Meadows of Cloverpatch). Once again, it is clear the blooming season is even later than last year. There were many things in bloom, but some plants that were flowering this time last year, including death camas and several clovers, had not yet begun. The balsamroots were coming into bloom on this trip, while they were going over last year on this date (Doramay agrees with me that their unusual fragrance has an enticing hint of chocolate!). In fact, looking back at my photos from May 7 of last year (see The Rocky Meadows of Cloverpatch), it appears to be at almost exactly the same stage, making us 2 weeks later this year—and last year was a slow spring. Having such a good measure of the flowering season should help me figure out when to return to some of the other sites I went to last year to see plants I missed. Read the rest of this entry »

East Side of Deception Butte

Whether you take the long route from the bottom or the short 1/3 mile path from near the top, the official trail to Deception Butte peters out before you reach the real reason to go up there—the glorious open slope that graces its south-facing side. Animals have made paths all over the summit, and it is easy to continue a short ways from the end of the trail down to the opening with its fabulous view. Last spring, I was up on another ridge near Oakridge scanning the mountains with my binoculars. Looking over to Deception Butte, I could see a large open area facing east, one I knew nothing about. Naturally, I just had to check it out.

Early flowers of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) on the main slope

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Early But Lovely at Eagles Rest

The cool spring has allowed the snow queen to keep blooming well into the much later fairy slipper season.

Yesterday (May 5), Sabine and I spent the afternoon exploring the rocky summit of Eagles Rest. It was exactly five weeks since my previous trip (see Blooming Begins at Eagles Rest), and I wanted to catch the next wave of blooms. The cold, wet, miserable April weather has kept things from moving along as quickly as they might have this time of year, so I figured it would take this long to see a real change. As soon as we stepped into the woods at the beginning of the trail, we were thrilled to see a carpet of western trilliums (Trillium ovatum) and fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) at the peak of their bloom. There were at least 50 of each in a fairly small area. All the trillium were facing south toward the light. Snow queen and evergreen violets were still blooming here as well. The fairy slippers continued all the way up the trail and were even perched on shaded mossy rocks up at the top. This alone was worth the trip. The sun was trying to break through a mostly cloudy day. We weren’t the only ones a little chilled—we saw two separate garter snakes trying to warm up as we headed to the top. Read the rest of this entry »

Natural Rock Gardens at Horsepasture Mountain

One of the big thrills of the day was the discovery of a Pacific giant salamander dining on a succulent slug along the road on the way up.

Yesterday (October 15), Sabine Dutoit, Loren Russell, and I took a special visitor from Sweden to Horsepasture Mountain. Peter Korn is touring the West, speaking to many of the NARGS chapters. He was in town to speak to our chapter the night before. Peter has an extraordinary 5-acre botanic garden and nursery near Gothenberg, Sweden (click here to check out his website), where he grows an enormous collection of plants from around the world, including a great many Pacific Northwest natives. He wanted to see these plants in the wild and hopefully collect some seed. I figured Horsepasture Mountain would be an ideal spot to give him a taste of the Western Cascades. The hike is fairly quick, and the cliffs are small enough to allow one to access the front without a difficult climb up a talus slope like many cliffs I have explored.

The view from the summit of Horsepasture is a real bonus, and we were very lucky that clouds drifting above us when we arrived at the trailhead disappeared quickly. By the time we reached the top, we had a great view of many of the High Cascade peaks as well as nearby mountains including Lowder, Olallie, Tidbits, and Castle Rock. The closest peak to Horsepasture is O’Leary Mountain. There was a great display of fiery vine maples on its shrubby slopes. The sun was appreciated on this chilly autumn day. About the only thing left in bloom was tiny Polygonum cascadense and some reblooming skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata). It is biennial or monocarpic (dying after setting seed), so somewhat like an annual, it is opportunistic, blooming as long as it can get moisture. Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected Finds at Mount June

I never had gotten back to further explore the west side of Mount June (see Spring Phacelia on Mount June), so yesterday (October 7), I headed back up there. It was still foggy in the valley but had been clear above when I woke up in the morning, so I hoped Mount June would be above the clouds. It’s close enough to the valley that it often is foggy even up at the top. Thankfully, I drove out of the fog and enjoyed the sun all day.

Fog can be seen from the rocky north end of the west meadow

I headed straight up past the first outcrop to just before next opening. Here I turned right and headed down through the open woods, pretty much due west, following the least steep incline. I quickly popped out into the west meadow just above the wonderful rocky dikes. No great view of the valley this time, just a blanket of fog, its fingers creeping up the ridges below me. There was still some seed left in the numerous larger patches of Penstemon rupicola and Saxifraga bronchialis growing on the steep sides of the rocks. Some of the mats of Penstemon were three feet wide. They must have been glorious in bloom. What with the cold spring we had, I was too early to see them in flower this year on my previous trip in June, normally their peak season. Growing on top of the rocks were little tufts of Minuartia rubella. Most of the seeds were already gone, but there were at least three plants with a few fresh flowers. Considering how rarely I see this little cutie, it was quite a coincidence that this was the third trip in a row I’d seen it. And all three sites had some reblooming plants. Very little else was in bloom, only the little annual knotweeds and a few rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia). Fresh leaves were out on Micranthes (Saxifraga) rufidula and Lomatium hallii. Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting with Whetstone Mountain’s Pikas

An adorable young pika (Ochotona princeps) poses for the camera.

Pikas have to be the cutest animals in the Western Cascades, if not anywhere. It always makes me smile to hear their nasal “eemp” sound emanating from under the rocks of a talus slope, and it is a really special treat to actually see them. I hadn’t been to Whetstone Mountain in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness in several years, and I was looking forward to spending some time looking for pikas, as I’d seen them there in the past. Along the drive up, there were great masses of pink rhododendrons and purple Penstemon cardwellii, and this continued at the parking area and much of the trail. The moist woods were also beautiful with a great show of bunchberry (Cornus unalaschkensis), queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora), and Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis). The foliage covering the forest floor was quite lush with a great variety of interesting leaf shapes, but I didn’t linger too much until I got to my favorite spot—a great talus slope next to a shallow pond. This is prime pika habitat as the rocks are large and stable, and there is plenty of foliage nearby for hay-making. Read the rest of this entry »

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