Warner Mountain Botanizing

A western white (?) met its demise in this patch of round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).

An outstanding show of scarlet paintbrush below the lookout. I was surprised there weren’t more hummingbirds fighting over it.

My most exciting day of last year was finding explorer’s (or bog) gentians (Gentiana calycosa) at Warner Mountain (see Hidden Bog on Warner Mountain). I wanted to spend some more time looking at the population there this year, and I also wanted to share the hidden site with some friends, so on July 22nd, John Koenig, Sheila Klest, and Betsy Parry joined me for a trip to Warner Mountain. It was three days earlier than last year’s trip, but with this year’s extreme drought and heat, I was sure the blooming would be quite a bit earlier. I had also decided boots would be unnecessary as it would most likely be drying out. Boy, was I wrong! I was quite astounded, in fact, to find the bog not only still quite wet, and all the little creeks still running well, but the gentians had barely started. It was pretty much exactly the way I had found it on July 25, 2020. Considering it was a month after the awful record-breaking heatwave and no rain for longer than that, I couldn’t believe how fresh and moist everything was. Where was all this water that appears at the top of the bog coming from? The bog is only about 150′ lower than the top of the ridge above it, so it is not like it is getting water trickling down from much higher up.

We saw many different colors of chorus frogs in the bog. This one is particularly well camouflaged in the greenish golden sphagnum.

While I was disappointed there weren’t more gentians open, it was wonderful to be somewhere that looked so unaffected by the hot and dry summer. The grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) had also just started, and there were lovely scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) and western St. John’s wort (Hypericum formosa). The latter was growing beside weedy Klamath weed (H. perfoliata), so it was easy to see how much wider its petals are and how much more attractive it is than the ratty-looking Klamath weed. Everyone also enjoyed watching both tadpoles and small frogs in the pools of water as well as butterflies, bees, and other insects.

Kelloggia is a delicate, sprawling species that is reminiscent of its relative bedstraw (galioides means “like Galium”). Both genera are in the madder family, Rubiaceae, along with coffee, surprisingly. Kelloggia’s leaves are only in pairs, and its little flowers have either 4 or 5 lobes.

Diamond Peak, already almost snowless, can be seen beyond this blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) on the ridge next to the lookout.

An especially brightly colored Edith’s copper nectaring on Alice’s fleabane.

Next, we headed over to the Warner Lookout to eat lunch at the picnic area by the lookout and enjoy the 360° view. From there, we wandered over to the east-facing meadows north of the lookout. Unlike the south-facing beargrass meadow we’d walked up through, this area is quite diverse, and there was still a lot in bloom, including more scarlet paintbrush, lots of asters and Alice’s fleabane (Erigeron aliceae), mountain owl-clover (Orthocarpus imbricatus), and pretty peach-colored large-flowered collomia (Collomia grandiflora). Since I had never walked all the way down to the road from the top, I suggested we try that as it wasn’t too steep. I wanted to keep working on my plant list for Warner Mountain. On the way down, I was very happy to find a new addition to the list: Kelloggia (Kelloggia galioides). I’ve seen it on occasion in the Calapooyas, and there used to be a small patch at the end of the nearby Moon Point trail, but I haven’t seen it there for a while. It seems to be more common on the east side of the Cascades. There were also plenty of insects to keep me busy with the camera, and on the way back after driving farther north to Groundhog Mountain, we ran into a couple of women studying bees in this same meadow area.

On the way to Waterdog Lake, we passed this gorgeous display of skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata), another hummingbird favorite. Skyrocket is also abundant on the large meadow on Little Groundhog Mountain, seen in the distance.

I had wanted to go over to the base of the Little Groundhog Mountain meadow to see if there was any seed left from the beautiful show of blue flowers that Jenny Lippert and I had seen a month before (see Groundhog Mountain Reconnoiter) along the road. Unfortunately, the south-facing roadcut was completely dried out with very little seed left. We did get lucky with the brief sight of a gorgeous male western tanager. We also spent a little while at Waterdog Lake and made some quick roadside stops. Thanks to my companions for joining me for a long but fun day in one of my favorite areas!

Sheila checking out Waterdog Lake. The shallow water is filled with the white pom-pom-like flowers and floating foliage of small bur-reed (Sparganium natans).

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