More Botanizing Near Hills Creek Reservoir

The gold stars (Crocidium multicaule) were even more outstanding than the previous trip. They can continue to bloom for a long time as long as it stays moist.

We went to Many Creeks Meadow, as I was hoping to see the numerous Pacific hound’s tongue (Adelinia grandis, formerly Cynoglossum grande) that grow there. I’ve been having great luck seeding them around my property, and this is one of the best sites I know for seed (technically nutlets).

After days of weeding on my own property during another sunny stretch, I was ready to go out botanizing again before the rain returned. It’s still quite early, so on April 2 (4/2/24 for those like me who like numbers!), I headed back to the reservoir to see how things were progressing. It’s undoubtedly the best place I know in early spring as it tends to be warmer in the southeastern corner than in the rest of Lane County. Nancy Bray joined me again. After a half hour trying to weed the offending patch of shining geranium (Geranium lucidum) along the cliffs (I’d remembered a bag this time!), we spent a lovely, relaxing day enjoying the flowers and butterflies and the perfect sunny, 70° weather. We made a number of stops and hiked up the steep rocky meadow of Many Creeks Meadow off of Road 2129. We also spent a while watching birds in the reservoir. A number of mergansers, mallards, and a few buffleheads and Canada geese were foraging in the shallow waters of the southeast corner, while violet-green swallows had returned to the cliffs. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

First Botanizing Trip of 2024

While looking at the flowers on the cliffs, Lauren spotted a bald eagle sitting in a dead tree above us!

Sadly, the population of shining geranium (Geranium lucidum) at the base of the cliffs near milepost 7 is starting to spread up onto the rocks despite attempts to remove it. Here you can see how similar the geranium leaves (bottom) are to the lovely native California mistmaiden (Romanzoffia californica, top) that grows abundantly there. I tried to at least pull out the ones on the cliff so no one else would accidentally pull the mistmaiden. We looked carefully at the leaves and noted good distinguishing marks are the small tips on the lobes of the glabrous mistmaiden leaves vs. rounded lobes on the slightly hairy leaves of the geranium.

As is my tradition, my first botanizing of the year was to Hills Creek Reservoir south of Oakridge on March 17th. It’s such a relaxing way to start the year. I was joined by fellow Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO) members Nancy Bray and Lauren Meyer. We made a number of stops along Road 21 as far as Big Pine Opening across from the bridge that leads to Coal Creek and Staley Creek roads. It didn’t seem worth going any farther as there were still patches of snow in the ditches. Lots of snow up higher as well. It was a lovely warm day, however, and we enjoyed the beautiful gold stars (Crocidium multicaule) and other early flowers. And while not abundant, we did see four species of butterflies: California tortoiseshells, unidentified blues, an anglewing, and a mourning cloak. Seeing butterflies always starts my spring fever. Here are some photos of our (mostly) pleasant day. Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn at Hills Peak

The fall color was outstanding in the wetland east of Hills Peak, mostly from the vast stretches of bog huckleberries.

A Cascades frog floating in one of the many channels near the lake.

On October 5th, John Koenig and I headed up to Hills Peak at the east end of the Calapooya Mountains. We both wanted to get in one more trip to the Calapooyas before winter, and we were looking for an easy trip—especially after John had injured his knee on our last trip out together (see Butterflying on Coal Creek Road). There are many places of interest around Hills Peak, so we can never see them all. On this trip, we made three stops: a wetland, the top of the peak, and the talus at the north end.

It was a gorgeous fall day. The clear blue sky was heavenly after months of smoke. We headed first to the large wetland east of the peak off of Road 2154, where there is a shallow lake and bog. While there was little left in bloom, the fall color was outstanding. The backlit huckleberries made the area look like it was on fire—but in a good way. Read the rest of this entry »

Last Day of Summer at Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake has a lot of interesting and uncommon aquatic plants. Near the inlet of the lake, you can see the large, spreading leaves of alpine pondweed (Potamogeton alpinus), the narrow, upright leaves of small bur-reed (Sparganium natans), and the delicate, feathery, trailing stems of lesser bladderwort (Utricularia minor). Earlier in the season, the surface of the wider part of the lake is decorated with the showy white flowers of arumleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata).

The pretty pool of pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala) at Zen Meadow was almost completely dried out. The large fruits were ripening. I’d never looked closely at the capsules or seeds before.

On September 22, I accompanied Alan Butler and Dave Predeek for a trip to the Lopez Lake area, southeast of Oakridge. Neither of them had been there before, so I wanted to show them the lake and some of the other interesting sites along Road 5884. It was officially the last day of summer, but it seemed like a beautiful fall day to me. It was only my fifth trip to Lopez Lake over the course of 11 years, and it was the latest in the year I’d been there. Things were much drier than on my past trips—not surprising considering how long it had been since we’d had real rain, and there were very few flowers left, but it was an interesting trip nonetheless. We headed all the way up the road to the talus slope first, and then stopped at the small hidden wetland John Koenig and I named “Zen Meadow” before walking down to Lopez Lake. On our way back, we checked out another hidden wetland and—new for me—a hidden lake. Here are some photographic highlights of our terrific trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Right Back to Groundhog and Warner Mountains

From the ridge above the talus slope on Warner Mountain, you can see northeast to nearby Logger Butte (the rocky spot at the top left-middle catching a little light). Talus is the favorite habitat of western boneset (Ageratina occidentalis). Its pinky purple flowers have been replaced by fluffy seed heads. While it is found at mid to high elevations, I have a plant I grew from seed that has been blooming well in my rock garden for 20 years or so.

After my previous outing (see A “Berry” Surprising Day at Groundhog and Warner Mountains), I contacted Jim Pringle, the author of the Flora of North America Gentianaceae treatment, who also assisted us with the treatment for the Flora of Oregon. He’s the person I’ve been communicating with about gentians for many years (see The Quest for Enemion Flowers at Table Rock). I attached some photos to my e-mail, including a scan of a specimen I had collected from the Warner Mountain bog for the OSU herbarium a couple of years ago. He pointed out that there was a small rosette at the base of the plant. I hadn’t recognized that as a rosette because it was so small relative to the whole plant. Read the rest of this entry »

A “Berry” Surprising Day at Groundhog and Warner Mountains

The star plant of the day was probably western mountain ash (Sorbus scopulina) with its shiny red berries. It was abundant along the roadsides. The large meadow in back is on Little Groundhog Mountain, more or less the south end of Groundhog Mountain.

In late summer, the gorgeous berries of wax currant (Ribes cereum) ripen, and the leaves develop a waxy coating.

After hearing from my friend Doramay Keasbey that Road 2120 was actually in pretty good condition, I decided I really needed to get back to Groundhog Mountain sometime this year. I used to go multiple times a year as it is one of my favorite places and has so many different interesting botanical spots to check out. With the fire danger finally reduced and the smoke no longer affecting the area (unfortunately for Doramay, it was pretty bad for her and her friend Pat when they went in early August), I was finally able to return on September 13. I was accompanied by fellow Native Plant Society of Oregon (NPSO) member Angela Soto, who had never been to this terrific botanical area. Due to the smoke and fire danger, I didn’t get out much in August and went alone as I was never sure until morning what the air quality would be like. It was wonderful to get back to “business as usual” and to be able to take another plant lover with me. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Season at Mistmaiden Meadow

Beautiful fall color in the thickets of oval-leaved viburnum that grow on the slopes of Mistmaiden Meadow

In the wetland along Road 140, there were still trillium-leaved wood sorrel (Oxalis trilliifolia) in bloom. Its leaves are similar to the far more common Oregon wood sorrel (O. oregana), but the flowers are in clusters and bloom later, and they grow in very wet spots.

Thank heavens for the wonderful rain on August 31! I had been so worried we’d have to wait until October for some decent rain, like last year. We got 3/4″ of an inch at my house, probably more in the mountains. That was followed by almost of week of cool, cloudy weather, and even a little more rain. It tamped down the fires, reduced the smoke, and made it much easier for the firefighters to contain the fires. In fact, The Forest Service reduced the south end of the closure area near the Bedrock Fire. That meant I could finally return to “Mistmaiden Meadow” near Sourgrass Mountain, where I had hoped to survey throughout the flowering season. My last trip had been on July 7 (see Fourth Trip of the Year to Mistmaiden Meadow), and I’d planned to go back on July 23 until I realized the Bedrock Fire had started the day before. I had missed two whole months, so I was really anxious to get back. On September 6, the first nice day I had free after the welcome cool and rainy weather abated, I headed up there. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Parish Lake and Nearby Wetlands

The sundews are so thick in the bog at the west end of Parish Lake that you can see the red—in the upper right here—in an aerial image.

Rannock-rush has distinctive olive-colored infructescences. I’ve always planned to get out early enough to see its meager flowers, but I still haven’t managed it. I was at Gold Lake Bog just after the snow melted this year, but in that case, I was too early. Here this unusual species is growing with the red-leaved great sundew and the glaucous-leaved marsh cinquefoil.

With the smoke from the Bedrock Fire inundating eastern Lane County, on July 28, I headed north to Parish Lake in Linn County. I hadn’t been there since 2016 (see Wildlife and Wildflowers at Parish Lake) when I went several times, including leading a trip for the Native Plant Society Annual Meeting. Parish Lake is at only 3300′ of elevation, so I knew it would be late in the season for the area, but there is always plenty to see.

I poked around the amazing floating bog at Parish Lake for a couple of hours. There weren’t too many butterflies, but there were many bees enjoying the maroon swamp cinquefoil (Comarum palustre) flowers and the pink inflorescences of Douglas’ spiraea (Spiraea douglasii). There were also a number of dragonflies and damselflies, and a family of wood ducks swam around the lake trying to stay on the far side from me. It was very peaceful. The water looked beautiful and deep enough in places to tempt me to go for a swim, but it doesn’t seem like a great idea to go swimming alone, so I’ll save that for another trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Dodder at Patterson Mountain

The meadow by the Lone Wolf Shelter was quite pretty with lots of scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) and celery-leaved lovage (Ligusticum apiifolium), but the smoke was unpleasant, so I didn’t stay long. Weeks later, this little smoke would have seemed like a good day!

A tangle of mountain dodder in the rocky meadow at Patterson Mountain

On Sunday, July 23, I left the house planning to head back up to “Mistmaiden Meadow” for my fifth every-other-week-or-so survey. As I headed toward Lowell, something looked terribly wrong. I could see an ominous bank of gray smoke to the east. I stopped to call my husband to see if he could find out where it was coming from—I don’t have a data plan on my phone, so I couldn’t check that way. It turns out the Bedrock Fire had started the afternoon before by the Bedrock Campground along Big Fall Creek Road 18. Obviously, I didn’t want to go anywhere near the fire, so Mistmaiden Meadow was out of the question. I had no idea in which direction and how far the smoke was going to move, but I also didn’t want to bail on going on an outing. I made a quick decision to go to Patterson Mountain. It was one of the closest trails to Lowell, slightly west of the fire, and south of Highway 58—the fire being over 10 miles north of the highway. I figured the smoke would mostly blow to the east, and if I was wrong and had to come home early, at least I wouldn’t have driven too far. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Balm Mountain’s Slippery Slopes

The slope right below the lookout site is extremely steep and slippery. I didn’t even attempt going down there, although someday I think I might get to the bottom by following the trees down along the north edge. The tallest points in the distance are Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey.

Great arctics have a two-year life cycle, so the adults tend to be abundant every other year. This year is an “off year,” but I’ve seen several this summer.

Balm Mountain, the highest point in the Calapooyas, has been one of my favorite places ever since I discovered it in 2010 (see First Exploration of Balm Mountain). Several times I’ve walked the trailless ridge between the old lookout at the north end and the high point at the south end, starting at both the north and south ends. What I’d never had time or energy to do was to head down the steep, gravelly slopes on the east side at the north end of the ridge. On July 18, I was on my own, so it seemed like a good time to see how much of this was traversable. Most of my friends either can’t or wouldn’t want to negotiate such a steep and unstable habitat, and I’d never ask them to. I also wanted to spend some time watching butterflies, which are particularly abundant in rocky areas of the Calapooyas when the mountain coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) is in bloom; it had just been starting at Potter Mountain when I was there a couple of weeks earlier (see Finally Back to Potter Mountain). Read the rest of this entry »

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