Late Season at Hemlock Lake

Mist burning off the lake in the early morning. Goldenrod and many other flowers bloom along the west edge of the lake near the campground.

Hydaspe Fritillaries, like this Northwestern or Atlantis, have a decided preference for nectaring on horsemint (Agastache urticifolia) in the southern part of the Western Cascades where this tall plant grows.

It had been four years since I’d been to Hemlock Lake. With time running out on this summer, especially with colder, longer nights making camping at high elevation less pleasant, I figured I’d better make one last trip down to the North Umpqua area. So on Monday, August 29, I headed to Hemlock Lake and spent the night at the campground there. There was plenty still blooming in the many meadows and wet areas the Yellowjacket trail passes through as it loops around south from the campground. Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) season has begun. New classification has left me bewildered as to what to call these. The bees love their flowers, but I was surprised at how few butterflies I saw. The tall yellow wands of tongue-leaf luina (Rainiera stricta) were also attracting bees and many skippers. Large stretches of horse mint (Agastache urticifolia) and arrowleaf groundsel (Senecio triangularis) were fading but not done. Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) added some bright color to the mix. In the wetlands, there were large areas of western oxypolis (Oxypolis occidentalis), a relatively rare member of the carrot family. The tall yellow flowers of Bolander’s tarweed (Kyhosia bolanderi) were also still blooming. In these wet spots were also a few of the gorgeous orangey-red leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum), always a treat to see on my trips south of Lane County.

Unusual white berries on Hooker’s fairy bells (Prosartes hookeri)

Flowering was pretty much done in the woods, but berry season had begun. I’ve been needing to photograph the fruits of Hooker’s fairy bells (Prosartes hookeri), which was unusually abundant here. Flipping over many leaves to look for hanging fruit, I was quite surprised to find none of the red berries I was expecting. Instead, all the flowering branches had either dropped their berries already or had early green fruits or large white ones. I never could find any I was sure were ripe and white, but it seemed obvious that none of them were turning red. Is this another local variation? I also checked the unripe fruits of dwarf bramble (Rubus lasiococcus). As with other locations I’ve checked over the last couple of years, they certainly seemed to be developing into white berries not red as the flora all indicate. Is there something about the Western Cascades, at least the southern end, that makes the plants do odd things? There were lots of both red- and white-berried baneberry (Actaea rubra) here, but that’s a plant that is well known for having two berry colors. I can’t find any references to these other two species having fruit with different color forms. Another mystery to unravel… hopefully.

The broomrape (Orobanche sp.) I saw on this trip was finishing, so I’m “cheating” here and posting this photo from a trip to Hemlock Lake in 2007. If anyone sees this form of Orobanche that parasitizes Oregon bedstraw (Galium oreganum), please let me know!

Another unusual plant I’ve seen in these southern woods is a bright yellow form of a broomrape (Orobanche sp.) that parasitizes Oregon bedstraw (Galium oreganum). I once dug one up and pressed it for the OSU Herbarium just to be sure that was indeed its host. Just because it always grows near a certain plant does not mean that is its host. I hadn’t been at the right place at the right time the last couple of years, so I was really pleased to find it still blooming here in several spots. I’m not yet sure what species it is. It is a much brighter yellow than our O. fasciculata and also has the rounded not pointed lobes of Orobanche uniflora. Perhaps it is a different variety of that species, usually purple or lavender in the Western Cascades. Or maybe it is something new. After all, it has a completely different host and habitat than either of those species. If it has separated itself from its parent species long enough, it will presumably be its own species eventually. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming treatment of Orobanche in Flora of North America. I’ve communicated with one of the authors, Alison Colwell, and she has seen a similar plant down in California growing on a different species of bedstraw. Hopefully, she is making progress on giving this pretty thing a name.

2 Responses to “Late Season at Hemlock Lake”

  • lori humphreys:

    that’s a Northwestern or Atlantis frit. I am looking for a late season place to go to today!

  • Tracy Pope:

    Came across this post while trying to identify an Orobanche (to species). Glad to know I wasn’t the only one thrown off by the bright yellow flowers. Since you mentioned wanting to know if someone else found this with Oregon bedstraw, I am letting you know I did. I’m not sure I can find it again, but can probably give a close approximation on a map. I have a nice photo of the plant with bedstraw. My husband and I were bushwacking down a hillside after leaving the Flat Rock Trail (not too far from Hemlock Lake), when I spied this broomrape, near the lower road (where our truck was parked). I’m glad to share the photo, if you are interested.

Leave a Reply

Post Categories
Notification of New Posts