Early Trips to Rigdon

It’s been a busy winter and spring with a lot of unexpected setbacks—snowstorm and broken wrist among the worst. The snow’s long gone, and the wrist is healing, but I’m still not caught up on everything I had hoped to do in the last few months. While I haven’t been out as much as usual, I did make it out to Rigdon several times, so I’ll share some photos from those early spring trips.

March 17

My friend Karl hadn’t seen the big show of gold stars (Crocidium multicaule) along Hills Creek Reservoir, so we headed out there on March 17. We only made it out as far as Big Pine Opening because of all the downed trees and remnants of snow on the road, but the show along the reservoir was beautiful.

The first butterfly day of the season! A California tortoiseshell alights on my fingers. Guess they were even dirtier (and tastier) than my cast.

I was pleased to see the Fremont’s silk tassel (Garrya fremontii) by the boat ramp at the south end of Hills Creek Reservoir was actually blooming with its long male tassels. This was once a very large and handsome plant until the Forest Service weed crew cut it down while attempting to remove some non-native silverberry (Eleagnus umbellata) bushes. It has taken years for it to recover, and it is still quite small, but at least it is coming back enough to bloom.


April 17

I had some help collecting seeds of Crocidium along the cliffs. This friendly tortoiseshell accompanied me for at least 10 minutes. Unfortunately, this packet of seeds disappeared before I got home, and I had to return the following week to collect some more. Note the cast is now gone and replaced with a brace—what an improvement!

After worrying about all the bad news about insect populations decreasing, it was great to spend a while watching numerous bees and other insects buzzing about some blooming hoary manzanita (Arctostaphylos canescens) in the rocky area next to Sacandaga Campground. Unfortunately for the plants, almost every flower had been pierced so the insects could get at the nectar from the side without actually doing their job of pollinating the flowers.

I stopped at what we call “Ladybug Rock” along Road 21 and was astounded to see close to 100 California tortoiseshells fluttering all over the warm, south-facing rock. There’d been about a dozen when Karl and I stopped there a month before, but on my following trip—just a week later—there weren’t any.


April 24

I rarely see pine elfins, so spotting this one stopping very briefly on a Crocidium flower was a real treat. I chased it up and down the road for a while, but it never landed long enough for another good look.

I’ve never given much thought to receptacles, the core part of a composite head that holds the many tiny florets and later, as in this photo, the seeds. They can be conical as in this Crocidium flower head, or flat or convex. This can sometimes be useful for identification. For many months, I have been working on the editing and layout of the treatment of Asteraceae in the upcoming Flora of Oregon, so I’ve read many descriptions of receptacles of late.

An early spring look at the meadow above the quarry less than a mile up Youngs Creek Road 2129. It has some lush seepy areas, rock outcrops, and a nice stand of oaks. In the distance, you can see Bearbones Mountain on the left.

I found purple (aka heartleaf) milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) here last summer as it was drying up, so it was good to see it emerging fresh again. I only found about a half dozen plants, but they had many stalks. Perhaps the smaller plants hadn’t emerged yet.

2 Responses to “Early Trips to Rigdon”

  • Sue Mandeville:

    Nice photos! Good writing! Thanks! I have a big patch of Asclepias speciosa in the front yard. If a Monarch shows up (one or two have shown up for the past 4 years), they’ll have a feast. Planted out 4 Asclepias exaltata this spring. If I get some seed I’ll send you some…if you want any. Might not bloom until next year?

  • Ernst Schwintzer:

    Thanks for all of your work! There is nothing more effective than your posts to make me want to get out and take a look for myself.

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