A Rainbow of Flowers at Mount June

So many brightly colored species clamouring for attention on the south ridge that it was hard to know where to point the camera. Here paintbrush, penstemon, lupine, Oregon sunshine, and stonecrop make it into the photo.

Once again, there weren’t as many butterflies as one would expect for all the flowers, but we did see this pale swallowtail nectaring on wallflower (Erysimum capitatum). California tortoiseshells, duskywings, and parnassians were about the only other species we saw.

Mount June was one of the first places I went hiking when I moved to Oregon (back in the ’90s!). I went at least once a year for many years. I guess there are just too many great destinations to explore these days because it had been almost six years since I’d been there and 8 years since I’d seen the area during bloom season. My last report was from 2011 (see Sawtooth Rock Meadow in Gorgeous Peak Bloom)—funny how that seems like it was just a short while ago!

I’d been wanting to show John Koenig the off-trail areas on the south and west, and he was already planning a trip there, so, for my 30th trip there, we agreed to drive up separately and do a socially distanced hike together on June 22. The pandemic has reduced my already limited social life to almost completely absent, so it was nice to be out with a good friend on such a gorgeous day.

Looking east from the south ridge covered with cliff penstemon, there’s a great view of Sawtooth Rock Meadow and beyond to the Three Sisters.

Rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) and monkeyflower (Erythranthe sp.) color the moist slope on the west side of Mount June.

While the gravel part of the road up there was the worst I’ve ever seen it—almost 4 miles of dodging scores of potholes and branches—it was worth it. The flowers were at peak bloom, and the queen of the flowers, cliff penstemon (Penstemon rupicola), was as stunning as I’ve ever seen it. When we reached the top, we headed straight down the south ridge and then through the woods to the westside meadow (the one you can see from Eugene but not from the trail). When we returned to the summit, we were surprised to run into our friends Gail Baker and Clay Gautier, who are fellow members of the Emerald Chapter of NPSO. They had come from Sawtooth Rock Meadow (in the other direction of the same trail). I showed them how to get down to the south ridge, and then John and I hiked to Sawtooth Rock. The meadow there was different but also quite lovely. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the photos tell the rest of the story.

The broadleaf stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium) was so bright, it looked like it was lit up.

This area has the largest population of spring phacelia (Phacelia verna) I know of. On the south ridge, they looked like they were all lined up at attention on this mossy shelf.

Paintbrush (Castilleja hispida and maybe also pruinosa), silvery lupine (Lupinus albifrons), bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata), and Olympic onion (Allium crenulatum). Diamond Peak can be seen in the distance.

In the Sawtooth Rock Meadow, I came across this lovely form of Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum). Each ray floret had three smaller petal-like appendages, giving it an unusual fringed look. Bluefield gilia with its complementary purple-blue really set it off beautifully.

The view of Mount June from Sawtooth Rock Meadow.

4 Responses to “A Rainbow of Flowers at Mount June”

  • Val Rogers:

    Wow! Rewarding indeed. This is a superb year for so many flowers. I’ve never hiked Mt. June but now I understand the appeal.

  • Gail Baker:

    Tanya, what a beautiful day! I posted some observations from our hike on iNat. there were NO previous postings of Phacelia verna on iNat. You should post yours!
    Also is my id correct fro the sandwort on Mt June? Minuartia rubella/Sabulina rubella?

  • Hi Gail,

    It was so great to run into you and Clay at Mount June. Yes, that is what is now called Sabulina rubella. It’s one of my favorites and the largest population of that species I’ve seen in the Cascades. Thanks for the heads up of Phacelia verna not being on iNat. I will post lots more photos there, but it will have to wait until fall—it’s all I can do to post stuff on my own website!

  • Linda Gilbert:

    I had already been planning to go up here when you put up this post. It is great to have current road and bloom information. I really appreciate your plant lists as a way to learn and not have to spend as much time looking things up. I have been “scraping by” up these bad roads in my Honda Civic for years but the situation is getting worse as no maintenance is done.I understand that the cause is decreased funds due to less logging and I don’t want the logging to increase so I’ll deal with it and gradually scratch roads off my list. I had a great day. The cliff penstemon and stonecrop show was outstanding!

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