Posts Tagged ‘seedlings’

Counting Purple Milkweed at Grassy Glade

A cedar (AKA juniper) hairstreak waiting for the milkweed buds to open.

Last year we did a lot of milkweed counts, but somehow we never counted the main population at Grassy Glade, even though we all went there many times. So on May 30, Maya Goklany, volunteer coordinator for Walama Restoration, and I went to Grassy Glade to look at the milkweed. Thankfully the road in was fine, and it didn’t look like there was much storm damage there. The purple (or heartleaf) milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) was just barely starting to bloom. Only a few plants had any open flowers, although several cedar hairstreaks were hanging around, hoping for some nectar from these butterfly favorites. 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 »

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 »

Mysteries of Cotyledon Leaves

Over the last year or two, I’ve found a new challenge to amuse myself—learning to identify plants by their cotyledon leaves. Dicots get their name from the two cotyledon leaves that emerge from a newly germinated seed. This first pair of leaves often, if not usually, bears no resemblance to the regular leaves found later on the plant. Most likely, the form of these leaves is defined more by the shape or some other characteristic of the seed. Typically, they are more or less oval. Sometimes they have distinct petioles, sometimes they are sessile. One would be hard pressed to identify these unless they were growing in quantity under the mother plant. Some plants, however, have very unusual cotyledon leaves. These really pique my curiosity.

Lotus micranthus

The compound true leaves of two tiny Lotus micranthus solve the puzzle of the red-striped cotyledons

Oemleria cerasiformis?

Might these waterlily-like cotyledons belong to Oemleria cerasiformis? Note also the tiny Nemophila parviflora with its cotyledon leaves still attached.

A couple of years ago, while out on Heckletooth Mountain just east of Oakridge in the fall, some little cotyledon leaves caught my eye. While the shape of the leaf was fairly generic, each one had a distinct red stripe starting at the base and going halfway up the leaf. What could they be? There were plenty of them, and I surmised they were one of many common annuals growing on this low elevation mountain. I brought one home and put it in a pot, hoping to find my answer in the spring. Naturally, I forgot about it over the winter. The following spring, however, there it was again on Tire Mountain, this time with the first true leaf appearing. It was Lotus micranthus, a little annual member of the clover family that is abundant on many of the lower elevation mountains in the area. What a surprise! I checked my pot when I got home, and sure enough, there was a tiny Lotus micranthus. Since then I’ve seen it several times with both the red-striped cotyledon leaves and the first tiny compound true leaves. The stems are red, so perhaps this has something to do with the unusual red stripe on the cotyledons. Read the rest of this entry »

Mystery Seedlings

Castilleja seedlings

Castilleja seedlings germinating while still inside the capsule

Several days ago, I was poking around under some of the cushion plants in my rock garden, searching for slugs. The little brats have been demolishing the new foliage on some of my little treasures. This is extremely frustrating. They tend to hide during the day under rocks or underneath plants with dense foliage. Then, while checking under an Eriogonum, I discovered a little capsule filled with tiny seedlings. Evidently, some seeds hadn’t fallen out of the capsule when it landed.

When I brought it in to look at it under the microscope, I recognized the visible seed as that of a Castilleja (paintbrush). Last fall, I looked at a number of seeds I’d collected on my hikes before sending them off to the North American Rock Garden Society seed exchange or sowing them myself. The most unusual ones turned out to be from species of Castilleja. I’ve never noticed anything interesting about them when spilled in my hands. Under the microscope, however, the unusual mesh-like coverings are fascinating.

Castilleja seeds

Seeds from a variable population at Hills Creek Reservoir that might be Castilleja hispida, C. pruinosa, or maybe even a hybrid swarm

Then I remembered that I had tossed some of the seeds and the remaining seed capsules under various suitable natives in the garden including penstemons and eriogonums. So this was one of those capsules. A couple of years ago, the first fall after I built a gorgeous new rock garden bed, I tossed some Castilleja hispida seeds under a Penstemon davidsonii. Last year, it not only grew, it flowered! It is emerging again now and looking quite healthy.

Castilleja plants are hemiparasitic—they need a host plant for at least some of their water or nutrition. They may germinate in a pot without a host, but they do far better with one. I had tried growing them in pots, but apparently I didn’t plant them out soon enough, and they always died. Tossing the seeds in the garden seems not only more successful, it is much easier!

Post Categories
Archives
Notification of New Posts