Calapooya Report

I’ve been waiting all summer to get back to exploring the Calapooyas, so yesterday I went up Coal Creek Road to Bradley Lake and Loletta Lakes. Most of this is in Douglas County, but it is all on the north side of the Calapooya crest and in the Willamette National Forest (just barely). They really ought to have run the county line along the Calapooya Divide.

Western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis) is a lovely late-blooming composite with a woody base.

I made a couple of quick detours on my way up to check on the Piperias. Youngs Flat Picnic Area was filled with people camping, but luckily they seem to be leaving the woods on the north side alone. The Piperia elongata are still blooming pretty well, although past peak. I also checked the woods across from Mutton Meadow where I’d seen about 30 Piperia plants in the spring. I managed to find 5 flower stalks. Only 2 had any flowers left. I’m pretty sure they’re P. transversa as they looked white with straight spurs. It also makes sense because they start blooming a bit earlier than elongata, so should be farther along than the P. elongata at nearby Youngs Flat.

When John and I went up Coal Creek Rd in early July, the road was a bit of a mess, lots of branches and rocks. Looks like the road has been cleaned up and even graded. I was thrilled about this until I got up to the base of the cliffs where the Epilobium luteum was in full bloom. It looks like they pushed some of the gravel right into the wet ditch and scraped some of the ditch as well. There were slashed branches. There’s still a lot of good habitat, but this is really upsetting. I don’t know what the official status of Epilobium luteum is, but this is probably the biggest population I’ve seen, and there are loads of other pretty things like Claytonia cordifolia in there. I hate to see them buried in dirt. I’m also concerned about messing with the water flow all these plants depend upon.

One-flowered gentian (Gentianopsis simplex) is very bright but quite small.

I also got photos of Stellaria calycantha in bloom. I realize now why I was confused about this before. Stellaria borealis used to be lumped with calycantha, and I hadn’t been separating them. Now I know most of what I’ve seen, and what grows on my property, is actually S. borealis. While I’m no expert on Stellarias yet, I’m pleased I’m no longer completely befuddled by them. Getting those sorted out was one of my goals for this summer.

Bradley Lake was lovely, and blooming very much like it was last year when I went for the first time in early September. I must get there earlier next year. The gentians were in full gorgeous bloom up on the cliffs, and there were far more Gentianopsis simplex around the lake than I saw last year. The pond lilies were still going, but the Potamogeton was waning. The Sagittaria cuneata was what I really wanted to see and it was lovely. As always, it was just out of reach. But using a stick to help me balance, I was able to walk out onto a small log and get near enough for some decent photographs.

Sagittaria cuneata is a lovely aquatic. The still water made for a perfect reflection.

I’d never gone down to Loletta Lakes, so I went down to see if there was anything in the wetland along the south edge of the southern lake, right near the road. I couldn’t see it from the road, but there are oodles of Sagittaria there as well. The bank was a little more solid, so after all that work at Bradley, they were much easier to photograph here. I was also surprised to see Parnassia in bud, as it isn’t at Bradley, nor at the wetland further to the west. But of most interest was lots of blooming Oxypolis occidentalis. I checked the Atlas, and oddly, it seems that all the sites for Oxypolis in Oregon are clustered in two areas, down in Douglas County, mainly in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide where I’ve seen it, and in northeastern Lane County. I’ve seen it at Indian Ridge, Quaking Aspen Swamp, and Lowder, and Bruce has a number of other sites in that area. It would appear this is the first sighting between the North Umpqua and the Middle Fork of the Willamette. I walked around the wetlands just to the east of the lakes. I didn’t make it to where there should be cliffs to the north as it was getting late, but the wetlands look very promising. Lots more Oxypolis, Drosera rotundifolia, and lots of the usual Caltha, Dodecatheon, Mimulus, and such. In one area the water forms small creeks between exposed rock and there was the strangest grouping of the bog-loving Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Mimulus primuloides, and Epilobium oregonense growing on a rock with Antennaria rosea. The water must run across the rock earlier in the season. There’s was a lot of Eremogone (Arenaria) pumicola in seed and Gilia capillaris still blooming in the drier areas.

It is always interesting to see the different mixes of plants in seemingly similar habitats. Although Bradley Lake is only 2 air miles to Loletta Lakes, as far as I can see, Gentianopsis only grows at Bradley, Drosera rotundifolia and Mimulus primuloides only east of Loletta Lakes, and Kalmia only at the wetland west of the lakes. Spiranthes grows at all three. It might be differences in hydrology, or maybe it is just dumb luck.

Sabine and I will probably head up to Bristow Prairie this week or next and check on the little pond that is over on the Lane County side. Hopefully there will be Sagittaria there, too.

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