Unusual Botanical Spot on Eagle Creek Road

It is easy to find the green flowered-alumroot (Heuchera chlorantha) along Eagle Creek Road.

Sabine and I had another exciting day in the field yesterday, checking on Fuji Mtn to see how it might be if we offer a hike there for next year’s NPSO Annual Meeting. Our major excitement was when we did some roadside botanizing on the way back from Fuji. We stopped to look at the oodles of white bog orchids in a ditch and discovered lots of other wonderful plants including a little Stenanthium and Parnassia. Just a little farther down the road at MP6, I was shocked to see hundreds of Heuchera chlorantha in bloom on the steep roadbank. I have it in the garden, but in all my wandering have never seen it in the wild. I noticed most of the Lane County sightings are from Bruce Newhouse. Loren Russell tells me he saws it long ago along the bottom of the road to Moon Point. I’ve gone up that road dozens of times, but I’ll look again.

Then we went just a tad bit farther down the road and were quickly stopped again at an old quarry that was covered with Ageratina occidentalis, some just starting to bud. We got out and explored the quarry for a while as it had quite an array of flowers: Penstemon rupicola and cardwellii, Castilleja miniata and some funny looking C. hispida(?), an unknown lavender Arabis, Saxifraga bronchialis and gorgeous Sedum divergens and even a few plants of Heuchera merriamii! But the really odd thing was a little bog in a flat area part way up. There was a very small pool, both Salix sitchensis and S. lucida lasiandra and a whole slew of Parnassia cirrata and one yellowish and undersized Platanthera stricta, and all this just a foot from Sedum divergens practically on bare rock. One of my close up photos shows Parnassia, Gaultheria ovatifolia, Linnaea, Heuchera chlorantha, and even a snippet of yarrow all growing together in a square foot. To top it off, the rocks are filled with crystals. What an odd and magical place! This spot is just a quarter of a mile up from the Hell’s Half Acre trailhead. Even the ditches near the trailhead were filled with Parnassia and we saw a 43″ tall Platanthera stricta at the bottom of a tiny creek.

Lush green clumps of Parnassia foliage growing in a tiny wetland in the old quarry, while Sedum divergens blooms on the nearby rocks

This fantastic roadside area is in the north-south stretch of Eagle Creek Rd 5883, within a half mile or so uphill from the Hell’s Half Acre trailhead which is 5.5 miles up Rd 5883. On the map, this is in T22S.R5E.Sec 12 SW corner and sec 13 NW corner and from about 4400-4600′. Sabine and I both think we should somehow try to incorporate this section of road into the Annual Meeting Field trips with Fuji or perhaps the first part of Hell’s Half Acre.

After a quick run up to the first meadows at Hell’s Half Acre (lots of Polemonium carneum, Calochortus subalpinus, Polygonum phytolaccifolium, and more) we made one more stop between MP1 and MP2 at the stunning, partly hidden waterfall cliff. I’ve wanted to explore that for a while but still didn’t really have time yesterday. But with the binoculars I could see the bright yellow sheets coming down much of the cliffs was not Mimulus, but an Arnica, amplexicaulis I believe. There is also a little Stenanthium on the wet part of the cliff and beautiful mock-range on the dry parts. Lots of Oxalis trilliifolia in the creek at the bottom and a little more Arnica.

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