Dome Rock… finally!

Dome Rock seen from earlier along the trail

Dome Rock seen from earlier along the trail

On Tuesday (August 5), John took Sabine and me up to Dome Rock (thanks again for all that driving John!). We a had a great day. We went up Coal Creek Rd 2133 (the scene of a very bad day for me a couple of years ago when I ran into a major washout on my way home from Douglas County. The road looks like it has had many other washouts but was passable for the moment at least.). There are some particularly good areas on the way up after the road turns to 5851. There’s a big cirque of sorts, and water comes down from Balm Mountain (T25S.R3E.S23, Douglas County I’m afraid). We stopped at a wetland along the road first and noticed blooming Trifolium howellii, some Oxalis suksdorfii and lots of tall blooming Rorippa. I noticed there’s no Rorippa on the OFP Atlas for around the area, but I have seen low-growing R. curvisiliqua at both Groundhog and Moon Point. This certainly looked different, but many photos of curvisiliqua show it upright. I will have to study that genus more.

Epilobium luteum & Mimulus guttatus

Epilobium luteum & Mimulus guttatus below Balm Mountain

Then we made a few stops at the many little creeks that come down off the cliffs. The Epilobium luteum that both John and I had seen before was just coming into bloom. We saw plants in several other spots during the day that were probably E. luteum but didn’t even have buds yet. It seems like a good area to look for more. There was also some Claytonia cordifolia coming into bloom and lots of a Stellaria John keyed out to calycantha. Another genus I need to sit down and study. There was a big patch of Artemisia on the side of the road, something I don’t see much Lane County. It had much wider leaf blades than the ones so common in Linn County. They did look similar to the ones at Groundhog however. There was also some Collomia tinctoria on the roadside. We passed by Loletta Lakes, a very large wetland, and the cliff where I saw my only Douglas County Castilleja rupicola. So many places to explore up there. We’ll have to just do a day of roadside botanizing sometime.

Lotus oblongifolius

very red Lotus oblongifolius

After we crossed the ridge (the crest of the Calapooyas) and headed back to the east, it was really apparent we were in Douglas County. Lots of meadow areas and wet spots. We saw blooming Kyhosia bolanderi, a few Lilium pardalinum, and the reddest Lotus oblongifolius I’ve ever seen. Usually there’s a touch of red to the buds, these you might actually look for in the red rather than yellow section of a field guide. White bog orchids, large pink Stachy rigida(?) and other goodies but not enough time to fully explore. Although anxious to get to our main trail, we still had to stop a few more times for a gorgeous swath of Linum lewisii on the roadside and lots of lovely Eriogonum umbellatum and marifolium growing together. Much like at Groundhog, you could really tell the difference by the way the umbellets are close together in umbellatum and well separated in marifolium. On the last stretch of road before heading downhill to the new trailhead at the beginning of road 251, the road was lined with stunning eriogonums in every shade from yellow to orange and red as they aged. There were also a number of clumps of Ageratina occidentalis in bud (still Douglas County, oh well).

The road to Dome Rock is lined with buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.).

The road to Dome Rock is lined with buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.).

We finally started the real focus of the day, getting to Dome Rock, at around noon. The 2 miles of road before the old trail starts were actually quite productive. Lots of wet seepy spots and fresh plants where there had been snow fairly recently. We saw a number of things not seen along the official trail like Veronica wormskjoldii, Saxifraga odontoloma, Mitella pentandra, Epilobium glaberimum, Trifolium longipes, Gaultheria humifusa, Streptopus amplexifolius, and Viola macloskeyi. We didn’t have time to go down to the real wetland below where we parked the car, but there was obviously blooming Triantha and Spiraea splendens there. We puzzled over a variety of arnicas all vaguely looking like latifolia, but some hairy, some not, and some with leaves of more substance and more deeply veined like I’ve been seeing over the last couple of weeks. I’m also still trying to figure out the difference between Erigeron aliceae and E. peregrinus. I’ve never looked that hard because I didn’t realize there was something that similar to aliceae. Both are listed for Dome Rock. I’m curious as to whether that’s because they are both there or people are keying them differently. I’m muddling through FNA now in hopes of having a better handle on it now that they’re coming into bloom everywhere I go. They both seem so variable in terms of hairs, glands, teeth etc. in the keys. The only really distinct thing is the achenes/cypselae being 2- or 5-nerved. Sheesh.

mating Parnassians

mating Clodius Parnassians

The trail itself was a much tougher trek than the road. Now that it isn’t being kept up, the fallen trees are starting to build up and it may not be that long until it is essentially impassable. Crossing logs is usually no big deal to me, but these had lots of branches and it was tough going getting through. It was also REALLY dry along the ridge where there obviously hadn’t been any snow for quite some time. But we did manage to add a few things to the list. Lots of Aster radulinus (Eurybia radulina) not blooming yet, Mitella trifida in seed, and old Sanicula graveolens. We also saw dried up Lomatium (most likely hallii from the habitat), Linanthus harknessii, Cystopteris fragilis, and Valeriana scouleri. One correction was that the Veratrum along the ridge was insolitum. It was just coming into bloom. We got to see the bright yellow Orobanche that parasitizes Galium oreganum that John had seen there before, and when we finally did make it up to the rock, we saw the more familiar creamy yellow fasciculata. The creamy ones have sharp lobes, and the bright yellow ones actually look closer to uniflora. Alison Colwell, who’s doing the treatment for FNA and Jepson, has seen the bright yellow ones in California and I’ve seen them a lot in Douglas County and they are at Youngs Rock as well. Hopefully she’ll get to the bottom of whether they are a form of fasciculata or uniflora, or an entirely new species. The true fasciculata was very close to Phacelia, but there was Eriogonum nearby, so that may well have been its actual host plant. I was hoping to see enough somewhere this summer to dig some up to try to establish the host plant, but there were only a couple.

Monardella and Eriophyllum

Monardella odoratissima and Eriophyllum lanatum by Little Dome Rock

Unfortunately, the fabulous view from the Rock was marred by smoke, but it was still impressive. The plants were also mostly finished. John showed us the Campanula rotundifolia in bloom and the finished Lewisia columbiana. Really cool to see that in the wild (I do have some in the garden). I was very excited to find a north-facing section of the rock with a number of Castilleja rupicola gone over. That was one of the reasons I’d been wanting to get to Dome Rock, as I figured it might well be there. Incidentally, aside from the Castilleja miniata, all the castillejas we saw were pruinosa or at least a lot closer to pruinosa than hispida. The forked hairs were quite evident, along with the sharp calyx lobes. They didn’t look quite like the ones down farther south, so maybe my theory that the ones in the Calapooyas are intermediate is true. I collected one on the road on the way home to add to my collection to send to Mark Egger. I’d sure love to see the Rock when it is in full bloom but don’t know if I’ll get back to it before the trail disappears under fallen trees.

On the way back, we actually did pick up a few more species including Polystichum lonchitis and P. imbricans, Crepis pleurocarpa, and, most exciting for me, Orobanche pinorum. I’d been looking for it under oceanspray all afternoon. It was only when we were just about back to Little Dome and the end of the trail part, that, no sooner did I rather disappointedly say “All this oceanspray and no Orobanche pinorum” and looked up, there it was, one plant in fading bloom. Happy Day!

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