Posts Tagged ‘Viola’
It had only been two years since my last trip to Pigeon Prairie and Little Pigeon Prairie (see Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies), but John Koenig had never been there, and after seeing the gorgeous explorers gentian (Gentiana calycosa) on our trip to Bradley Lake the previous week (see Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake), I was anxious to see more gentians. There’s a great show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum) at both prairies, so on August 10, we made the long drive north to Marion County to spend a lovely day exploring Pigeon Prairie with a short stop at Parish Lake Bog on the way home since John hadn’t been there either. Nothing much new to report except that we saw lots of rough-winged swallows and more cedar waxwings chowing down on a huge gathering of some kind of insect (cranefly?) bouncing around above the surface of Parish Lake. Still, I thought people might enjoy some photos of the gorgeous gentians at Pigeon Prairie. Even non-flower lovers would probably take pause at these statuesque purple beauties! Read the rest of this entry »
This year was Emerald Chapter’s turn to host the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s annual meeting, held this year in Rainbow in the McKenzie area. This is my chapter, based in Eugene, so I agreed to lead three field trips. We had perfect weather and great plants for all three days, and a great group of enthusiastic participants who were happy with whatever we came across. It was great having people with different interests and knowledge bases, and they spotted a number of additions to my list—something that always makes me happy. Below are a few highlights. Read the rest of this entry »
My first post of the year, and it’s already April. What with the heat and forest fires, my summer hiking season petered out much earlier than usual last year. Then my work with the Oregon Flora Project ramped up, and I’ve been super busy all winter. I’ve been editing, designing, and doing layout for the new Flora of Oregon (more about that another time). I’m usually happy to be parked in front of my computer most days in the winter, but with all the glorious weather during this winter-that-wasn’t, it’s been really tough not having time to go out, especially after getting reports from my friends of getting up into the Western Cascades in February(!). We’re almost done with the Flora, and we just had a brief, much-needed respite while the publisher read through the manuscript. At last, I was able to take a day off and get up into the Cascades to see what it looked like after this unusual, largely snowless winter.
Mother Nature is an avid decorator, so much so that she changes her color scheme every few weeks. On Sunday (May 25) at Quaking Aspen Swamp, she was going for a pink and white theme with yellow accents. On the way down the trail were many western trilliums (Trillium ovatum), some fresh white, others aging to pink and even purple. Pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) were in their prime. White candyflower (Claytonia sibirica) was in bloom, and its larger cousin, heart-leaf miner’s lettuce (C. cordifolia), was just beginning along one of the side creeks. Last week at Elk Camp, its anthers were opening up to reveal black pollen, but here they kept with the theme and showed only pink anthers. The little red and white flowers of vine maple (Acer circinatum) fit in well. Scattered round-leaved violets (Viola orbiculata) and a lone glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) added touches of yellow.
The open wetland was quite stunning. Grand sweeps of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) covered much of the area with their white and pink blossoms. Underneath, trying to get noticed, were large patches of Gorman’s buttercup (Ranunculus gormanii). Despite their bright yellow flowers, they are just too small and too close to the ground to get much attention under the far larger marsh marigolds and shooting stars. This is the common buttercup of wetlands in the southern half of the Western Cascades, but it was my first time seeing it this year, as the last few wetlands I’ve been to were all home to the larger and showier but less common mountain buttercup (R. populago). Interesting how almost every Cascade wetland seems to have one and only one species of buttercup. North of the mountain buttercup sites, water-plantain buttercup (R. alismifolius) seems to predominate. Read the rest of this entry »
First day of spring and first post of 2014! It sure didn’t feel like the first day of spring when I got up on Friday (March 21) to 29°, frost, and fog. The weather forecast said it was going to be sunny and warm later in the day, but I dressed in 3 layers of clothing just in case. John Koenig and I then headed off for my favorite early spring site: Hills Creek Reservoir and Road 21. I’ve written about this wonderful roadside route many times (see other posts here). It is always so nice to see old friends—I meant the flowers and locations, but that goes for John too!
As we hoped, we drove out of the fog into clear, sunny skies when we reached the reservoir. It was quite chilly, however, and neither of us took off our heavy coats until much later in the day. We made a number of stops along the cliffs on the west side of the reservoir and were surprised to see a Moss’s elfin butterfly on the wing. According to the thermometer in the car, it was only 48° outside and felt colder than that with the wind chill. Moss’s elfins are one of the earliest butterflies to emerge in the spring. Some other early fliers overwinter as adults, but these little elfins overwinter as chrysalises, so they must be well adapted to cold temperatures. I didn’t get close enough to take a good photo as I didn’t want to disturb it too much when it needed to sit still and warm up. Read the rest of this entry »
After seeing the lovely blooming willows at Elk Camp Shelter (see previous post), I got “willow fever”, and decided I had to go back to some of the places I’d seen large populations of the lower-growing species of Salix to see if I could finally learn to identify some of the more difficult ones. On Thursday (June 22), I headed up to Blair Lake. There was only supposed to be a 3-day break in the otherwise damp week, and I wanted to go out twice before being stuck inside again from the rain, so I took a gamble that Thursday’s forecast for a 30% chance of rain wouldn’t amount to much. On Monday, I had been up to Parish Lake Bog following a similar forecast, and the weather was gorgeous. Not so at Blair. It was tempting to turn around and leave after it started to rain within minutes of my arrival, but after 9 miles of gravel, I couldn’t be such a wimp. Thankfully, I came prepared with rain coat and rain pants, but bushwhacking through sopping wet foliage proved worse than the actual rain and eventually proved too much for my raingear. Hey, at least the sun came out for a few minutes! And I got to look at the willows that have long confused me there. I’m still not 100% sure, but I believe they are actually the same two species I saw at Elk Camp Shelter: Salix eastwoodiae and S. boothii. The former is somewhat hairy and has a slightly bluish cast from a distance, while the latter has very shiny leaves and looks much greener overall. I was surprised that at the higher elevation of Blair, the flowers were so far along, but I could still see the fuzzy capsules of Eastwood’s willow and the glabrous ones of Booth’s. Read the rest of this entry »
I had been to the wetlands along Ikenick Creek four times before, but it had always been late in the summer to see the interesting aquatics, so on Friday (June 7), Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray and I headed up to Linn County to see the early flowers. The wetlands are hidden away on the west side of Highway 126, just across the road from Clear Lake. In fact, the lovely clear water of the lake is fed by Ikenick Creek. The day before our trip, the Forest Service had apparently done a controlled burn nearby, and while we were there, many trucks were pumping water out of the creek where it crossed Forest Road 2672. We had to park a little farther away and listen to the pumping all day, but it was a small price to pay to explore a really interesting wetland.
Actually there are four wetlands in an area the Forest Service has designated as the Smith Ridge Special Wildlife Habitat Area. There are several more just outside this area, and all together they refer to them as the Smith Ridge wetland complex. I didn’t know this when I first noticed the intriguing set of wetlands on Google Earth. Smith Ridge is not named on the maps, and although it does drop off hard along the east edge where Hwy. 126 heads south, when you’re in it, the area appears to be basically flat, so it’s hard for me to start using that name now. Whatever you want to call this area, these wetlands contain a diverse collection of wetland habitats, including wet meadows, bogs, sedge marshes, shrublands, swampy woods, creeks, and small ponds. Navigating numerous beaver channels and sudden deep holes in the thick layer sphagnum bog makes exploration tricky, but on this trip, we managed to get everyone back to the car with dry feet (not always so in the past!). Read the rest of this entry »
There’s something so exciting about being in the mountains when the first plants are emerging. Grasshopper Meadows is just bursting out with the first flowers after the snow has disappeared. Yesterday (June 14), Sabine and I had the privilege of witnessing its yearly rebirth. Just over a week ago, I caught a glimpse of Grasshopper Meadows as I crossed the bridge in Oakridge, and the upper half of the giant meadow was still white with snow. Now the snow is completely gone and has been replaced by thousands of western springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata) and glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). They are especially abundant along the upper edge of the meadow where the snow lingers the longest, but they can be seen within minutes of the trailhead. Other snowmelt species can be seen as well. In the lower meadows, turkey peas (Orogenia fusiformis) is blooming, and while the leaves of steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) are present in many places throughout the meadow, the only fresh blossoms remaining are along the ridge.