Fritillaries at Hells Half Acre

Today Clay, Gail, John, and I went to check out Hells Half Acre. The way things have been going, my expectations weren’t very high. But after we saw 4 handsome bull elk on the road on the way up, I felt maybe my luck had changed. I was right. We had a terrific and productive day.

Fritillaria affinis

Fritillaria affinis with wide leaves and bell-shaped flower

First off, the trail is a go. No problem getting to the trailhead. There is still lots of snow in places on the lower parts of the trail. It is only along the edges of the lower meadows and there are lots of glacier lilies, Anemone lyallii, and also Dicentra uniflora, some still in bud. There should still be some snow melt species in 9 days under what is now snow. Lots of other things coming along as well. There is a very snowy area right after the lower meadows and it may be that the group will be split up and only some people go to the upper meadow. The other bad news is that it is very buggy in the woods, but it is fine out in the open meadows. I was there on June 9th in 2004 when the flowers were pretty similar but there was less snow (though still lots remaining in the one bad spot) and no bugs. I suspect this will be an unusual year in that respect as well.

Fritillaria atropurpurea

Fritillaria atropurpurea with narrow leaves and flaring flower

Only one tiny patch of snow was left in the upper meadow. The Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Ranunculus gormanii, and Mertensia paniculata were very pretty and there were lots of other nice things budding up. After we ate, John spotted some lovely Fritillaria affinis in bloom, a very nice addition to the list. Viola macloskeyi was another one I hadn’t seen there before. After admiring the grand show of shooting stars, we crossed to the west side of the meadow. Clay pointed out another Fritillary in bud. I immediately got excited because I was pretty sure it was Fritillaria atropurpurea, not affinis, and I’d never seen it nor heard of it in Lane County. We started searching for more and eventually found around 15 in bloom and another 20 or so in bud or just vegetative. It was REALLY hard to spot them in the grass. Clay and Gail were much better at it than I was. They were indeed F. atropurpurea, with smaller, more widely flaring flowers and extremely narrow, glaucous leaves. I’m thrilled. I’ve only seen it in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide and once along the Metolius. There are no records for it in Lane County on the OFP Atlas. We did not want to collect any.

For anyone wanting to check out the trail later, it looks like it will be a great beargrass year, there were many in bud, and later in the summer there is Parnassia cirrata and Kyhosia bolanderi to see.

Leave a Reply

Post Categories
Notification of New Posts