Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

Seed Collecting at Tire Mountain

Gorgeous farewell-to-spring really glows when backlit.

Gorgeous farewell-to-spring really glows when backlit.

On July 31st, I decided to make one last trip to Tire Mountain to look at the final wave of flowers and collect some seeds. I was especially hoping to get seeds of the late-blooming farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena) while still seeing some fresh flowers, but I was surprised that hardly any seeds were ripe, and there were many buds still in evidence—on the last day of July! I’ve gotten a few started at home, but since they are annuals, I need a large enough population to be able to keep themselves going. Most other plants were in seed, and I was able to collect a number of species, including several biscuitroot (Lomatium dissectum, L. utriculatum, and L. nudicaule), my favorite bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata), rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta), and Oregon fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum). Read the rest of this entry »

New Gallery of Seed Scans

Delphiniums have irregular seeds. Those of the very tall D. glaucum are much larger and a different shape than those from a population of what appear to be hybrid D. nuttalianum x menziesii from Balm Mountain (inset). It will be interesting to see if these last seeds differ from their purebred parents. The ruler increments are millimeters.

For many years, I’ve collected seeds of our native plants, both for my personal use and to share with the NARGS seed exchange, so others could grow some of our beautiful rock plants. After I bought a microscope, I discovered how much variety there is among seeds, even in plants of the same genus. In fact, some species are distinguished by their seeds. This can be hard to do with the naked eye, but it is well worth looking at small seeds under a handlens or microscope. 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 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!

To the Top of O’Leary at Last!

I’m finally back doing Lane County sites and thought some of you might be interested in my trip yesterday to O’Leary Mountain. All that rock on the top that you can see from Horsepasture has been calling me for years. I did the old trail along the front in 2006 and also went part way up the ridge another time, but this time I went up before doing Horsepasture, so I wouldn’t run out of time. I dragged Jim with me and unfortunately it was a lot cloudier up there than it was when we left home, so the view was limited and the lighting pretty bad. The last time he came with me we had the same bad luck. No wonder he doesn’t hike with me very often. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the botany pace! Still, I accomplished my small missions. One was to reach the summit, and the other was to find the Minuartia rubella that Hickman listed for O’Leary. There is also a more recent vouchered specimen from Herm Fitz in 1979.

To get to the top, you just stay as close to the ridge as possible. The north slope is too covered with thimbleberries and other shrubs to plow through. There is a lot of open rocky habitat along the ridge, and it is filled with wonderful plants. Only asters, Columbiadoria, goldenrod, and a few stray flowers of earlier blooming stuff were left. Next year I must go up and see them when they are still in bloom. At the very top, we climbed over the ridge to the south side outcrops. I found 3 more plants of Heuchera merriamii there. I reported it from the north-facing talus slope of O’Leary several years ago, but those pictures are gone, so I had no proof of them up there anymore. There’s also a little Trifolium kingii var. productum which is also on Horsepasture.

Minuartia rubella

Minuartia rubella in seed

There are a number of plants of Minuartia rubella scattered around the top of O’Leary. While their leaves are still quite green, they are all in seed (I collected some and pray they germinate!) and so covered with dry flower stalks that from a distance they look like small beige puffs. This is only the second place I’ve ever seen Minuartia rubella. I know it is listed for a number of sites, but other than Mt. June where it is fairly common, I simply haven’t been able to find it.

I’ve never been to Rebel Rock, but Hickman also lists it at Bohemia, Browder Ridge, and Three Pyramids, and there are several specimens and reports from the great Cone Peak/Iron Mtn area. I’ve looked but never managed to relocate it at any of those sites. I climbed Lamb Butte once, where Bruce & company have a sighting, but I wasn’t looking for it at the time.

I know I’ve brought this up before, but has anyone seen this cutie anywhere other than at Mt. June? I just don’t think there is very much of it around in the Cascades. Hickman’s sightings are old, and the Douglas County and Devil’s Peak specimens are even older. I sure would like to find some more. Maybe it is disappearing.

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