NPSO Field Trip to Moon Point

Relaxing by the lookout. The foliage of beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is really soft comfortable to sit and lie on.

Heading down the overgrown trail. The tall foliage on the left is alpine knotweed (Aconogonon phytolaccifolium).

On July 10, eleven (vaccinated) nature lovers gathered at the Middle Fork Ranger Station in Westfir for a field trip to Moon Point sponsored by the Native Plant Society. Jenny Moore, district botanist, was the official leader of the trip, but since she hadn’t been to Moon Point before our pre-hike a month earlier (see Early Bloomers at Moon Point), she asked me to co-lead. What with the pandemic, it was the first field trip I’d led in quite a while.

We had a lovely day up at Moon Point. The plants had grown like crazy since our earlier trip, so the trail looked very different. While a number of flowers were past peak with this summer’s heat and drought, there were still some showy species like skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata) and mountain owl’s clover (Orthocarpus imbricatus) in good bloom as well as inconspicuous ones like blunt-sepaled starwort (Stellaria obtusa). There were plenty enough flowers to attract quite an array of insects. Everyone was really inquisitive and as interested in all the butterflies and other insects as they were in flowers. We went all the way out to the point at the end of the trail, and on the way back most people bushwhacked with us over to the lake.

Lovely wands of white bog orchid (Platanthera dilatata) were in bloom along the edge of Moon Lake.

When we returned to the cars, I said I had planned to go over to the Warner Mountain Lookout before heading home. It had turned into a long day, so it seemed like the rest of the group might not be up for it. But when I told them it was only another 2 miles down the road and there might be Cascade lilies (Lilium washingtonianum) in bloom, everyone agreed to check it out. I was so thrilled (and relieved) when we reached the lookout and saw hundreds of gorgeous blooming lilies—perfect timing! It was a fantastic end to the day. I think all the participants enjoyed the outing. I know I did! Here are some highlights.

A friendly thread-waisted wasp (Ammophila) checks out one of the participants. They are not aggressive, but they do eat caterpillars, so I admit I have mixed feelings about them.

This parnassian was so intent on the fewleaf mountain thistle (Cirsium remotifolium) that it paid no attention to either the bumblebee or all of us passing right by it along the edge of the trail.

One of the things I like to point out is cleistogamous flowers. Like this stream violet (Viola glabella), after the first flush of showy flowers is done, most of our violets continue to produce flowers. But these flowers never open up (see the smallest one in the center), and after self-pollinating, they produce fruit capsules (the larger two) with no help from insects. We saw cleistogamous flowers on several other violet species.

A bee and some beetles, including a number of tumbling flower beetles (Mordellidae, the small black ones with the pointy abdomens) enjoy the little flowers of celery-leaved lovage (Ligusticum apiifolium).

A bee and a sparkly Anna’s blue share a fading Alice’s fleabane (Erigeron aliceae) head.

One bee gathers pollen from the anthers of a Cascade lily flower while a couple of others must be looking for nectar at the base of the flower. Can you spot them?

It’s rare while out botanizing to be able to just kick back, relax, socialize, and enjoy being in the great outdoors. So it was great that we were able to end our day resting in the beargrass with new friends, fragrant flowers, and a fabulous view. Unfortunately, our view was somewhat spoiled by the top of the large plume and drifting smoke (far left) coming from the massive Bootleg Fire burning well to the southeast of us.

One Response to “NPSO Field Trip to Moon Point”

  • Wilbur L. Bluhm:

    Tanya, I enjoy seeing your trip reports, such as this one to Moon Point. Thanks for including me on your list of receivers.


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