Posts Tagged ‘Spiranthes’

Exploring Hidden Lake(s)

The sphagnum bog alongside Hidden Lake

The cool sphagnum bog alongside Hidden Lake

Just 4 miles due south of Terwilliger Hot Springs, Hidden Lake has become a popular destination in the Cougar Reservoir area. During the recent NPSO Annual Meeting last month, there were two trips offered to botanize at Hidden Lake. Since I was leading hikes elsewhere (see Field Trip Highlights from NPSO Annual Meeting), I didn’t go on either of those, but I hadn’t been there for years, so I thought it was about time to go back. And after noticing some other wetlands not too far from the lake, I was even more intrigued and headed out there on August 7. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Surprises at Fish Creek Valley

I’d been looking forward to going to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide all year, but I just couldn’t seem to squeeze a camping trip down there into my schedule earlier in the summer. Then, in late July, the Whiskey Complex fire erupted east of Tiller, just 9 miles west of Donegan Prairie, one of my planned destinations. So much for that. But last week I was lying awake in the middle of the night, my mind wandering all over the place as it often does in the wee hours, and I thought, to hell with worrying about the smoke, I’ll just go to the north end of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. Fish Creek Valley is one of my favorite places, and there are lots of late-blooming flowers to make a trip in August worthwhile. Unlike many ideas born in the middle of the night, this one still seemed realistic in the morning, so a couple of days later, I packed up my van and headed south.

Rattlesnake Mountain looms right above Fish Creek Valley. The smoke in the air makes it seem much farther away.

Rattlesnake Mountain looms right above Fish Creek Valley. The smoke in the air makes it seem much farther away.

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A Minor Thrill at Hills Peak

On Thursday (August 23), John Koenig and I spent a lovely day in the area by Hills Peak. I had been looking forward to showing John one of my favorite areas in the Calapooyas, a part of the Western Cascades that is special to him as well. He “adopted” the Dome Rock wilderness area for Oregon Wild (then ONRC) back in the late ’90s when they were trying to assess all the small unprotected wilderness areas in the state. The day was absolutely gorgeous with none of the heat of the previous week or so and no sign of smoke from any of the small fires in the area.

The shallow lake has many pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala) and is surrounded by bog-loving sedges.

We started out the day by walking down the old road to the shallow lake to the east of Hills Peak. I didn’t have time to check it out on my earlier trip this year (see Hills Creek to Hills Peak). Although the majority of flowers were finished, there was still plenty to see. Poking around a small wet meadow beside this old road, we found dozens of one-flowered gentians (Gentianopsis simplex), including a few plants whose petals were twice the normal length. There were also a great many starry ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes stellata). I’ve seen these both here before, but one of these days I’ll come back earlier enough to see what must be a lovely display of mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi). Read the rest of this entry »

Pikas, and a Coyote, and Monkeyflowers, Oh My!

On my First Trip to Hills Peak in northeastern Douglas County (click here for aerial photo), I took a look at the top of the peak and three nearby wetlands. But there were several interesting looking spots that I did not have time for, so I decided it deserved a return trip. Boy, was I right! What a wonderful day I had Thursday (August 26), with great weather, interesting and unusual plants (even though most flowers were finished), and some great wildlife experiences, including a terrific hour spent hanging out with pikas.

Pika checking out its hay cache

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Last Wave of Flowers at Lowder Mountain

A gorgeous hoary comma nectaring on a coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis).

Earlier this week (August 18), Sabine Dutoit, Andrew Mylko, and I went to see what was left at Lowder Mountain and take a quick look at Quaking Aspen Swamp. I was actually surprised at how far along things were at Lowder, no doubt the recent hot days pushed a few more plants over the edge. There were still a number of ericaceous woodland plants in good bloom, including Pyrola picta and Chimaphila umbellata. At the small wetland that empties into Quaking Aspen Swamp, Kyhosia bolanderi and Parnassia cirrata were in bloom along with some early Stachys cooleyae. These were down in QAS as well. Lowder Mountain is a great place for butterflies earlier in the season, but they seemed to be disappearing along with the flowers.

A single explorer's gentian (Gentiana calycosa) blooms near the trail where it can be studied close at hand.

My favorite spot at Lowder is the rocky ridge the trail passes by partway up. This is where some of the uncommon rock-loving plants occur, especially on the small north-facing cliff side. Not surprisingly, most everything is finished here so long after the moisture has disappeared. Seeds were ripe on Castilleja rupicola, Eremogone pumicola, Silene douglasii, and Lomatium hallii, and already gone from the early-blooming Phlox diffusa. But there are two special plants here that are just peaking now: Gentiana calycosa and Campanula rotundifolia. Both inhabit the north side of the ridge and are quite difficult to access for closeups. The Campanula especially is way down the cliff. I didn’t see it here for years. Binoculars are a must here and even more so on the upper cliffs below the summit. Read the rest of this entry »

Bristow Prairie

Sabine and I had a very nice time yesterday at Bristow Prairie. No problem getting up there and no hunters, unlike my last trip. We parked on the road a little before the gravel pit and walked up into the meadow from there. We headed down toward the lake until we found the cairns. I hadn’t been sure if the trail was still in existence, since it is on the USGS map but not the new district map. Maybe that’s because it is actually in the Umpqua NF. We also hadn’t found the north trailhead although we drove very slowly hoping to spot it.

Sorbus scopulina

Sorbus scopulina in fruit

From the cairns, we decided to follow the High Divide trail to the south first and do the lake later. We were able to follow it no problem. We found some Horkelia fusca very quickly just after the trail passes through a short stretch of woods into a logged area. Unfortunately this and most everything else we saw was on the Douglas County side of the county line which appears to go right through the lake. The trail passes through some pretty sloping meadows. Mostly we saw lots of goldenrod, Symphyotrichum foliaceum, Eucephalus ledophyllus, old coneflowers and lots of Hypericum perforatum and miserably stinky Madia glomerata. There were lots of gorgeous Sorbus scopulina with brightly colored, shiny berries. The rocky meadows on the west facing side of the ridge were covered with fading Eriogonum compositum, umbellatum, AND marifolium. All 3 common little polygonums were there and blooming as well. Also some Alaska yellowcedar and a small patch of oaks. I guess that is the area called Picture Rock Prairie. Read the rest of this entry »

Trip to the Calapooyas

Yesterday I had a terrific day exploring the Calapooya area and found lots of cool things. My destination was Bradley Lake (south of Bristow Prairie in Douglas County, just inside the Willamette NF) but I stopped many times on the way up and back. I had found a plant list for the lake on the OFP Atlas (Lois Kemp 1994) when I was searching for Spiranthes locations, hoping to find some Spiranthes stellata among the S. romanzoffiana sightings.

Bradley Lake is shallow, a great place for aquatics.

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A Soggy Day at Quaking Aspen Swamp

Kyhosia bolanderi

Kyhosia bolanderi (Bolander's tarweed)

Quaking Aspen Swamp was very nice yesterday although cold (about 50° all day). Sabine bailed at the last minute, so it turned out we only had two of us anyway. Doramay and I both had our rain pants on and were glad we did. The clouds had lifted by the time we arrived, but the foliage was quite wet at first. The sun came out quite a bit, but it never totally cleared up, and there was not enough sun to open up the Drosera, Sisyrinchium, or Gentianopsis flowers. There was a lot still in bloom. Things were not as far along as I expected. The Aster [Canadanthus] modestus was just barely starting. There were lots of hybrid Spiraeas (Spiraea xhitchcockii) as well as S. douglasii, lots of Oxypolis occidentalis, Aconitum columbianum, Stachys cooleyae (and some accompanying hummers), and Angelica genuflexa. The Kyhosia bolanderi was quite impressive and in even more places than I remembered. It looks better when it isn’t hot and sunny. The Aster [Oreostemma] alpigenus was in very good bloom as well. What was odd was no floating leaves of Potamogeton in the pond. There were only submerged leaves.

I added 3 new species to the list: Arnica mollis, a Utricularia (minor again? I haven’t gone through my photos yet. It was in the creek just before it goes into the pond), and Rosa pisocarpa. I reolcated the patch of Phyllodoce empetriformis but not the grapeferns. I also confirmed that the alders on the west side of the meadow are Alnus incana, although the ones along the trail are the usual A. viridis sinuata (boy, were they wet walking under!). I suspect the huge sweep of Alders going up the hill at the far end of the meadow are Sitka also. I still don’t have enough data, but the incana I’ve been seeing lately always seems to be in flat wet meadows, while the Sitka is often on wet slopes. I’m pretty sure the little scraggly ones along the edge of Bruno Meadows were also incana. I’m just starting to figure out alders. Unlike A. viridis, A. incana never seems to have very many flower buds or old cones. I did manage to find some plants with buds, and they had the long peduncles on the male buds and short ones on the female ones characteristic of incana, as well the dull leaves.

Spiranthes

Single-ranked Spiranthes stellata is much more delicate than the larger S. romanzoffiana above.

Lastly, I was able to collect some of the Spiranthes stellata, my main goal for the day (some for OSU, some for the orchid folks). They were scattered all over the meadow and just coming into bloom. Just before we left, we came to the best spot of all, with over 40 ones in good flower, just south of the major willow patch at the north end, northwest of the pond. We also found some Spiranthes romanzoffiana, but not as much and some of it still totally in bud. It was much heftier. I got a photo of one next to a S. stellata and the size difference was really pronounced. S. stellata is such a delicate thing.

Great Gray Owl at Moon Point!

Sabine and I went to Moon Point yesterday. I wanted to look more carefully around Moon Lake. We went there first taking a short cut from spur road 444 so we could wear our rubber boots and do the trail separately later in regular shoes. Only addition was Platanthera sparsiflora north of the lake. I still haven’t figured out the Potamogeton there but got some pictures and will try to learn them. There was some Parnassia cirrata and Comarum palustre in bloom and lots of pretty cotton grass. Absolutely no sign left of the Lewisia pygmaea we saw in July, but I wasn’t so surprised about that. The tiny pond had dried up as usual and had some Rorippa and tiny Plagiobothrys like I saw last year. Don’t know if I’ll ever learn those.

Spiranthes stellata

Spiranthes stellata, note the starry (not hooded) flowers in a single rank

On our way up the road to the trailhead we stopped when I saw some Spiranthes on the roadside. It’s only the second place I’ve seen them blooming so far this season. They turned out to be Spiranthes stellata! There were about 30–40 in bloom, and when I dug one up for the Herbarium, there were half a dozen tiny plants up against it. They must make offsets. Interestingly, the article Paul Martin Brown put in the NPSO Bulletin says they have single descending tubers. The plant I dug up had multiple tubers, but the tiny vegetative plants next to it definitely had single descending tubers. The ones in my picture don’t descend because they are just too plump. None of the plants were more than maybe 9″ tall. It is a delicate thing. There was a wet ditch to the right of the creek, but that was more north-facing and in the shade. No Spiranthes there but lots of Platanthera stricta and Boykinia occidentalis, neither of which were in the sunny ditch.

Great gray owl

Great gray owl

When we finally arrived at the Moon Point trailhead, we had a great experience. After spending the whole morning checking out the Moon Lake area from spur road 444, we got to the main trailhead at about 2:30pm. We were quickly surprised by a giant bird zipping past us. He/she landed in a tree briefly but disappeared again. We went out onto the log to look at the blooming Lilium pardalinum in the tiny wetland near the beginning of the trail when he appeared again and flew over to a nearby tree. He stayed long enough for me to get one good photo then flew off again, seemingly just a little ways away, but we didn’t see him again. Still, it was a real thrill to see an owl, and in midafternoon no less. Out on the rock on the main trail, there were still some blossoms on the Hieracium greenei and some seeds. Still no new plants right there though. We could see a fire started on the North Umpqua past Bearbones, so we just headed back.

In the slide show I gave last month, I mentioned the Lorquin’s Admiral I see at Moon Point in the same area every year. Well, one landed right where I mentioned, just after telling Sabine to keep her eyes open for one when we got there. It was the only one we saw all day. That’s at least 4 generations in the same small set of little conifers at the end of the meadow. They must keep the territory in the family. We saw loads of fritillaries, northern Anna’s blues, and parnassians, but not much else. Where are the coppers this year?

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