Surprise at Tidbits


Nuttall’s linanthus (Leptosiphon nuttallii) has delicate foliage that is reminiscent of an asparagus fern.

I was planning to go back to the Calapooyas yesterday, but the smoke is way too bad down there (it’s just reaching our house this afternoon!), so I decided to head to Tidbits. It had been 2 years, and I missed the place. Since most everything is done blooming, I figured I’d do some more exploring, so after watching pikas on the talus and taking in the great view at the top, I went north along the Gold Hill trail from the old cabin intersection. Once before, I went a short ways down to the first outcrop but didn’t have time for more. I only made it a mile down yesterday when, after exploring another outcrop area, I had to turn around. But just .4 mile from the intersection I was shocked to find 2 plants of Leptosiphon (Linanthus) nuttallii. It turns out James Hickman found it on Rebel Rock, but the nearest site I knew of was at Fairview and Bohemia. The Atlas shows nothing else in Linn County. The rest of my few sites are all in Douglas County.

On my way back, I went the 20 or 30 feet to the top of the ridge to see if there was more—I couldn’t believe there’d be only 2 plants. I found at least another 50 of them on the north side of the ridge. The top is partly shaded and has what looks like a 10′-high sloping wall of sorts. I followed it to the east and discovered another population of Eucephalus gormanii! The two were growing together in places. The aster was still blooming a bit (as it was at the top of the main talus slope). It is hard to count numbers of plants, but it covered about 10′ x 30′, a good-sized population in my experience.

Left) Wallace’s spikemoss (Selaginella wallacei)

Growing side by side Wallace’s spikemoss (Selaginella wallacei) on the left and Rocky Mountain spikemoss (S. scopulorum) on the right are easy to tell apart. Wallace’s is much more open with the bases of the branches clearly visible, while Rocky Mountain spikemoss forms much denser mats that hide the branching pattern.

I’ve always wanted to know what is in the rocky areas above the east end of the trail, and since the Gold Hill trail parallels it on this stretch, I figured it was a perfect time to bushwhack straight down and see if there was any more Leptosiphon. After a short stretch of woods, it opened up a bit and got rocky. There were tons of Leptosiphon here! They follow a low draw much of the way down to the trail. Perhaps the first seed landed at the top, and they have been washing down the slope ever since. Just over a rise, the next low spot had nothing but Phlox diffusa. How strange, as it didn’t seem different. I definitely have to go back to see it all in bloom next year. I love the plant and have one I bought in my rock garden. There was also some Trifolium productum in there, another addition to my Tidbits list. Although the flowers were dried out, you could still see the cute little top knot.

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