Archive for the ‘Seep’ Category

Deer Creek Road Awash in Gold

There weren’t as many butterflies as I would have expected on a warm, sunny day, but then most of the blooming flowers like monkey flowers weren’t good for nectaring butterflies. I did watch this California tortoiseshell visiting a number of the abundant rustyhair saxifrage (Micranthes rufidula). This surprised me because I rarely see tortioseshells nectaring at all, and I can’t remember seeing any butterflies on the saxifrage even though it seems like a good plant for a butterfly with lots of easily accessed small flowers.

On April 19, I spent a relaxing day looking at early blooming, low-elevation flowers along Deer Creek Road 2654 off the McKenzie Highway. The mile or two west of Fritz Creek is a wonderful place to see moisture-loving plants along the road as long as there is still moisture. Sweeps of various shades of yellow covered the road banks, including gold stars (Crocidium multicaule), seep monkeyflower (which used to be Mimulus guttatus but I’m pretty sure is now Erythranthe microphylla as E. guttata was kept for the larger perennial), chickweed monkeyflower (E. alsinoides), and Hall’s lomatium (Lomatium hallii). I didn’t check out the hidden meadows above the road, which peak a little later in spring—plus I was feeling too lazy for the steep climb.

I had heard that last year’s Lookout Fire had burned across Deer Creek, so I was concerned about possible damage along the road and up in the hidden meadows on the north side of Deer Creek. There was some evidence of burning on the ridge above the side south of Deer Creek as well as a little on the drive in, but I was relieved to see the north side—at least the low elevations—got spared. The fire probably jumped the creek higher up.

Here are some photographic highlights.

The first bank I came to was covered with gold stars. My timing was perfect as they were mostly in full bloom, but there were enough going to seed for me to collect plenty for my property. They’re still not really getting established at home, so I have to add more seed every year if I want to see their cheery flowers at home in early spring.

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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 »

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 »

Butterflying on Coal Creek Road

We couldn’t go up Coal Creek Road without checking out the amazing spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) patch just past the 4-way intersection at the top of the crest (43.3998°N, -122.4561°W). We delighted in the abundance of butterflies and the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers. While most of the visitors were checkerspots, we also saw some fritillaries, parnassians, coppers, and all three of our “ladies,” including this American lady.

Julia’s orangetips rarely sit still long enough to photograph them, so I was really pleased to capture this lovely male who was making the rounds of the tall bluebells (Mertensia paniculata) growing in the roadside ditches.

Coal Creek Road 2133 which leads up to the west end of the Calapooyas is one of my favorite places to do roadside botanizing and butterflying. It’s also one of John Koenig’s, so on July 13, we drove up there for an easy day as John was still recovering from some foot issues and wasn’t up to a real hike. It was warm, but there was still enough moisture in the many seeps and creeks along the road to nourish the flowers, which in turn attracted lots of butterflies. Here are some photographic highlights.

We scared up a family of grouse along the road. The cute babies all flew up into the trees.

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Fourth Trip of the Year to Mistmaiden Meadow

There were at least five large areas of narrowleaf mule’s ears in the lower half of Mistmaiden Meadow.

I was surprised to see three different blooming clumps of Oregon iris (Iris tenax) along Road 140. While very common at low elevations, this is only the second area I’ve ever found them above 3500′. In eastern Lane County, they usually give way to slender-tubed iris (I. chrysophylla) at about 1500′.

On July 7, I headed back up to the meadow on the west side of Sourgrass Mountain that I’m calling “Mistmaiden Meadow.” My first stop was the roadside along the east end of Road 140 with beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) and other goodies because it had been an interesting spot on the previous trips. As I mentioned in the report on my last trip (see “Mistmaiden Meadow” Still Outstanding), there were a number of butterflies there, so I wanted to see what was flying about at this point. Once again, I saw several pretty bramble green hairstreaks. Also present were silver-spotted skippers and persius duskywings. What do these three butterflies have in common? They all use big deervetch (Hosackia crassifolia, formerly Lotus crassifolius) as a host food plant for their caterpillars. This species likes disturbed areas and is abundant along the road here. It appeared to be attracting a lot of other insects as well. Bumblebees were busy flying from one flower to the next. I found several caterpillars that did not look like butterflies munching through the leaves. New for me were some tiny and strange-looking lace bugs (Corythucha sp.), but they were so small my photos didn’t come out well enough to include. I wouldn’t have thought about planting something as large as big deervetch—and I’ve never seen it advertised by a nursery—but it seems this species is very popular with insects, and it isn’t unattractive, with its reddish flowers and glaucous leaves. Maybe I’ll collect some seeds on one of my return trips. Read the rest of this entry »

“Mistmaiden Meadow” Still Outstanding

Rosy plectritis paints the hillside pink as Daniel and Angela climb back up “Mistmaiden Meadow.”

Bramble green hairstreaks are really hard to tell from Sheridan’s green hairstreaks; the former has less green on the underside of the forewing and less conspicuous white markings. The best way to tell is to look around for the host food plant as they don’t travel very far from it. The road here is lined with big deervetch (Hosackia crassifolia), the main host food plant of the bramble. Sheridan’s uses buckwheats, none of which grow there. This is where a botany background really helps in learning about butterflies.

Continuing my periodic surveying of what I’m now calling “Mistmaiden Meadow,” the steep meadow on the west flank of Sourgrass Mountain, I headed back up on June 25. This time I was accompanied by fellow NPSO member Angela Soto and her partner, Daniel. My plan was pretty much to follow what Sheila Klest and I did a couple of weeks before (see Shooting Stars are Stars of a Great Day), going to Mistmaiden Meadow and then on to Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow. Before we even got to the meadow, we had to stop for a small roadside wet spot on Road 1912 when I spotted devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus) out of the corner of my eye. This striking spiny shrub is not that common in southern Lane County, so I don’t see it too often. I’m not sure how I missed it on my previous two trips, although it probably hadn’t leafed out on my first trip this year (see Early Look at Meadow on Sourgrass Mountain).
This spot was just before the intersection where we turn left onto Road 140. Read the rest of this entry »

Shooting Stars are Stars of a Great Day

The population of the seep-loving beautiful shooting star was more gorgeous than I had imagined in “Mistmaiden Meadow.”

Did it just snow? Nuttall’s saxifrage coats the rocks at “Mistmaiden Meadow.”

I was really anxious to get back to the steep meadow on the east side of Sourgrass Mountain after my first trip of the season (see Early Look at Meadow on Sourgrass Mountain). Exactly two weeks after the first trip, on June 13, Sheila Klest and I went to see what was in bloom. We weren’t disappointed. It was even prettier than we expected. As soon as we stepped out into the upper part of the slope, we were greeted with a sweep of pink rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta). There was much more moisture than there had been at nearby Tire Mountain the week before (see NPSO Annual Meeting Trip to Tire Mountain). Tire Mountain is known for similar drifts of color in wetter springs, but this year was rather disappointing. Here, however, the moisture from the above-normal snowpack on Sourgrass was trickling down to the meadow and keeping it fresh in spite of a month with little or no rain. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Look at Meadow on Sourgrass Mountain

Thompson’s mistmaiden was abundant on the seepy parts of the slope (which is most of it!).

I was surprised to find this checkerspot caterpillar wandering around some wholeleaf saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia), which is definitely not a host food plant. Neither is Thompson’s mistmaiden, the little flowers popping up among the saxifrage leaves. There must have been some paintbrush nearby.

My last report of 2022 was about two late-season trips to hidden meadows in the area near Saddleblanket and Sourgrass mountains (see Exploring Two New Meadows). I was really excited about getting to see the meadows in bloom this year, especially the large one off of Road 140 on the west flank of Sourgrass Mountain. Having already been to nearby Tire Mountain (see Early Season at Tire Mountain), I had seen the lush green meadow from the north side of the ridge, and I knew the road was clear to Windy Pass. On May 30, Nancy Bray accompanied me, hoping for a first look at the early spring flowers in the big meadow. We had also planned to try to get to the other meadow and nearby Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow, just a few more miles to the north, but we were stopped by a single patch of snow blocking Road 140. Luckily, we were only half a mile from the first meadow, so we walked the rest of the way up the road, which was clear of snow except in some ditches. There were still some glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) and fresh western trilliums (Trillium ovatum) in the freshly melted-out ditches and road banks on our way up. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Two New Meadows

Looking east across the Saddleblanket Bald meadow, you can see the alder thicket following the water as it drains from the wetland uphill.

While planning a trip to collect seeds at Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow, I was showing my husband where I was going on Google Earth and happened to notice what looked like a small natural meadow less than a mile west of Elk Camp. It wasn’t far from a road that once led to an old trailhead for Saddleblanket Mountain. I remembered it being gated the last time I drove by, but it was only a half-mile or so to walk if it was still closed. Intrigued, I decided I should add it to my trip. The following day, August 15, I headed up to Nevergo Meadow by my usual route, south from Big Fall Creek Road 18. After a short stop at Nevergo Meadow, I drove south on Road 142 past the trailhead that hooks into the Alpine Trail near the Elk Camp Shelter. It’s only another 1/3 mile to Road 143, which deadends after 0.6 miles. The gate was actually open, and the road was clear and in good shape. I found out later it had been opened and brushed to use as a fire break. Thankfully last year’s Gales Fire never made it over to this area, though I passed burned trees on the drive up farther north. Read the rest of this entry »

Wonderful Day at Groundhog Mountain and Logger Butte

The rock formations of Logger Butte are quite stunning, and the many colorful wildflowers growing in the rocks make it even more special.

Dave admiring the cliff on the south side of Logger Butte.

Groundhog Mountain in southeastern Lane County has been one of my favorite botanizing sites for almost 20 years (over 40 trips so far!). Unfortunately, despite many roads leading up to the numerous wetlands and rocky spots, it has been getting more difficult to get up there, so my visits have been getting less frequent. From any direction, it’s 10 miles or more of gravel roads that have been deteriorating over time, and with no trails and no real logging of late, there has been no upkeep on the roads. So I was thrilled to get invited by Dave Predeek to go up there with him and Alan Butler, who also loves the area. Both are fellow members of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. Alan has a hefty truck and doesn’t mind driving—my kind of a guy! On July 15, Alan drove us up the northern route to Groundhog via Road 2309, the road I took for many years until I finally gave up on it when a deep gully developed in the middle of the road. I was really happy to see the gully seemed to have filled in on its own, and the road wasn’t as bad as the last time I’d driven. Not to say I would take my smaller car up that way yet, but it was passable for a sturdy, high-clearance vehicle. Read the rest of this entry »

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