Posts Tagged ‘Sparganium’

Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies

Ever since Sabine and I accompanied Jenny Lippert to Little Pigeon Prairie in early July (see The Search for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum), I had been wanting to get back there to explore the main wetland at Pigeon Prairie, which we didn’t have time for that day. It had been five years since I’d been there and seen an amazing show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum). I also wanted to check on the seeds of the blue-eyed grass we had seen, in case that would help with deciding if it was the rare Sisyrinchium sarmentosum or the common S. idahoense. It’s a long drive for me to get there—just south of Detroit—but since the heat has been sapping my energy, I didn’t want to do anything that required any climbing, so a flat wetland seemed like a good idea, and I headed up there last week on July 30.

King's gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

King’s gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

As it turned out, I had to do quite a bit of bushwhacking—there are no trails in this area—and walking around a wetland of tall sedges and standing water can be tricky, so it wasn’t as relaxing as I’d hoped. But I’m so glad I made the trip. When I arrived at Little Pigeon Prairie, which is only a thin strip of trees away from Road 620 (off of McCoy Road 2233), I was almost immediately greeted by the tall purply-blue wands of Gentiana sceptrum in perfect bloom. Sometimes I feel as though I spend so much time exploring new spots or looking for rarities or particular plants I’m studying or need to photograph that I miss out on the big shows of wildflowers that most people are seeking out. I could have gone to some alpine meadow at peak bloom, but here I was going to a fairly low elevation (3600′), sedge-covered, boggy area well past “peak” season. But even if the gentians were the only flowers left in bloom, it still would have been worth it, as there are few plants as glorious as a large-flowered gentian, and meadows full of this regal species are as spectacular as anything else I could have imagined seeing that day in the Cascades. Read the rest of this entry »

Aquatics and More Near Lopez Lake

Yellow pond-lilies (Nuphar polysepala) and the narrow leaves of small burreed (Sparganium natans) fill a very shallow pond in the western wetland.

After last week’s trip to Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte (see previous post), I was interested in checking out some more places in the area. While exploring on Google Earth, I noticed several apparent wetlands in the area near Lopez Lake, just a couple of miles northeast of Hemlock Butte. From the spotty appearance of the lake in the aerial image, it also seemed likely that Lopez Lake had aquatic plants—always a plus for me. All of the areas of interest could be reached off of Road 5884, out Hwy 58 east of Oakridge. I’d been up the first half of this road a couple of times before to hike to Devil’s Garden, an area with a small wetland and a lake at the base of a talus slope, but I’d never been all the way to the end. Read the rest of this entry »

Awesome Day at Groundhog

The area around Groundhog and Little Groundhog Mountains (really two ends of the same formation) is one of my very favorite places. I discovered it 9 years ago and have returned over 20 times. Although it is highly impacted, with many roads and a great deal of the forest logged in the recent past, this is an amazing spot for roadside botanizing and watching butterflies. When Molly Juillerat, the botanist for the Middle Fork district of the Willamette National Forest, asked me to help her lead a field trip to see plants and butterflies, I immediately suggested Groundhog Mountain as the destination.

A multitude of tadpoles filled the water beneath the bur-reed (Sparganium natans?)

Yesterday, (August 9), Molly and I headed up to Groundhog to “prehike” for Friday’s field trip. There are no trails, so we were mainly checking the road conditions and deciding which of the many great sites would be most interesting at this time of year. There are numerous wetlands, several good seeps, excellent rocky roadcut spots, and several small lakes to choose from. Our first stop was Waterdog Lake. This shallow body of water is usually drying out in August, creating mud flats along the edges where specialized plants such as Rorippa curvisiliqua and Gnaphalium palustre appear. I was surprised to see how much water was still there. The Rorippa had barely started as what mud there was had not really dried out yet. The unusual spherical flowers of Sparganium were sticking up above the water. I’m still not sure of the species as they had characteristics of both S. angustifolium and the far less common S. natans. Read the rest of this entry »

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