Fruits and Fronds at Eagles Rest

Rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) going to seed on the south-facing front of the cliff. The little bumps in the distance are Fuji Mountain and Mount David Douglas.

After a week of rather dreary weather, the weekend turned out to be quite nice. I decided I had too much to do to take the whole day off for a hike, but the clear blue sky Saturday morning (October 8) made it impossible to stay home. My compromise was a quick trip up to Eagles Rest—only a half-hour drive and 1.5-mile round-trip hike. I had thought about heading farther up the road to Mount June, but as I drove up Eagles Rest Road, I could see clouds hanging on the summit. That made the decision to do the shorter and easier hike.

A ladybug hides in plain sight among the red hairy manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana) fruit. Seeing next year’s flower buds already makes it easier to be patient until next spring comes.

While next to nothing was in bloom, there was still plenty to see. Many of the shrubs have ripe fruit now. There were blue fruits on both the Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa) and salal (Gaultheria shallon) in the woods. Out on the rocks, the Garrya fremontii had lots of ripe dangling fruit in grape-like clusters. Garrya shrubs are dioecious, so only female plants were covered with fruit. I squished a few to see what the seeds looked like inside. The fruit was quite juicy but didn’t seem to be a big favorite. Most of them were dropping on the ground below. Perhaps small rodents enjoy them. The manzanitas were also covered with fruits. Manzanita is Spanish for “little apple”, and they do look quite a bit like apples, but these Arctostaphylos columbiana “applets” were fuzzy, as are the leaves and stems.

The small raspberry-like fruits of snow bramble (Rubus nivalis) are never very abundant. Perhaps with its running habit, it isn’t so dependent on seeds to reproduce.

Clarkia species have long, narrow capsules, much like their relatives, the willowherbs (Epilobium spp.), but their seeds don’t have the pretty tufts of white hairs.

Many herbaceous plants were in seed as well. While the down-turned capsules of Calochortus tolmiei lose their seeds immediately upon opening, the upright ones of Fritillia affinis sometimes hold their seeds for a while. I got lucky and found several capsules with seeds still intact. Other bulbous plants including Triteleia hyacinthina and what appeared to be a Brodiaea (not on my list but a late bloomer I could have missed) had ripe seed as well. The capsules of the Brodiaea were on long stalks in an open umbel. Those of the Triteleia were similar but on shorter stalks with rounder capsules. On this grassy level well down the cliff face, there were many dried Clarkia stalks as well. According to an NPSO list, they are most likely Clarkia amoena, but I didn’t get back here to see them bloom, so that’s just a guess. But I collected a few of all these pretty plants to toss in my rock garden. If any come up, they’ll be a nice addition. Unfortunately, the seeds of the pretty cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) were all gone. Like many composites, the fluffy pappus attached to the seed helps keep it aloft while the wind carries it to new sites. If only it would land on nearby Mount June where the habitat seems equally suitable.

Goldback ferns dry up in the summer, but fresh fronds appear with the fall rains.

There are many rock ferns on the giant cliff at Eagles Rest. Lace fern (Cheilanthes gracillima) looks about the same as it does all year, but new fronds of goldback fern (Pentagramma triangularis) were just coming up in the seemingly dead clumps. This is how they weather the summer drought. Lots of large clumps of indian dream fern (Aspidotis densa) were also a combination of dead brown and fresh green fronds. I relocated the single plant of Rocky Mountain woodsia (Woodsia scopulina) I found in June (see Peak Season at Eagles Rest). It was curling up, but it still looked quite different and far hairier than the similar fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis), which usually consists of nothing but limp, dead fronds by the end of the summer. I kept my eyes open as I climbed around the rocks, but I never could find any other plants. It always amazes me how a plant can find a home in a crack miles from any others of its species. I hope this one survives and can multiply into the surrounding rocky area.

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