Posts Tagged ‘Butterflies’

Uncommon Plants in Southeastern Lane County

Normally I look forward to April and the coming of spring. But this year, it was an exceptionally miserable month for me, and the 7+ inches of rain we got at our house only made things worse. So the coming of May and a lovely sunny day yesterday (May 1) was a huge relief to me. I headed off to look for plants in one of my favorite early areas, along Hills Creek Reservoir and Road 21. I was just hoping to find any signs of flowers and butterflies—an affirmation of the renewal of life. It was quite unexpected that I stumbled upon several unusual plants.

Spring azure on Ribes roezlii. Butterfly season has gotten an awfully late start this year.

As always, my first stop was at the cliffs along the reservoir. The Crocidium mutlitcaule is still blooming well, although some seed is ripening. The mokeyflower that looks like Mimulus nasutus—a species not recognized by the Oregon Flora Project—was coming into bloom in the drippy rocks with its small flowers and large leaves. There was also lots of Lomatium hallii, the last flowers of Ribes roezlii, and the beginnings of adorable Tonella tenella, but by and large, it is still early. I searched through the large mats of Sedum spathulifolium and finally discovered the very first signs of Orobanche uniflora sprouting up from a clump of last year’s dead stalks. It’s still unclear to me from the literature whether this species is an annual or perennial, but this may have been evidence that this plant was perennial. Read the rest of this entry »

Last Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows

Yesterday (September 2), Sabine and I spent a relaxing and low-key day at Grasshopper Meadows. No exciting finds or multitudes of flowers, just a day out enjoying the wide open meadows and blue sky above. After a week off for inclement weather and other chores, it was just nice to get out again. It was very different than our other trip in June (see First Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows). Then everything was fresh and barely up out of the ground. Now, most things are fading, the grasses are taking on a warmer tone, and many things, especially the early annuals, are completely dried out. It’s a fun challenge trying to recognize plants at this stage.

Asters put on the last great show of flowers in the meadow.

The foliage was still quite wet from rain the day before but was much drier out in the open meadow where surprisingly strong winds were blowing. It’s aster time in the meadow and little else was blooming. Most of the asters appeared to be western aster (Symphyotrichum spathulatum, formerly Aster occidentalis) with small, even-sized phyllaries, but this often mixes with leafy aster (S. foliaceum) with its much larger outer phyllaries, and there was certainly some variety in the larger sweeps of lavender. I would have expected a lot more butterflies, but the wind was too much for them except near the eastern edge where it was blocked by the trees. Read the rest of this entry »

Group Trip to Groundhog

Field trip participants exploring one of the many wet meadows near Groundhog Mountain. Diamond Peak is in the background.

Yesterday’s Forest Service field trip to Groundhog Mountain went well. As it was on Friday the 13th, I had been just a little superstitious. The crowd was much bigger than expected—17 or 18 I believe—but we managed to negotiate all the many car stops fairly well. And despite the heat in the Valley, at over 5000′ it was cooler, and there was a pleasant breeze, so we were pretty comfortable. There was plenty to see, and hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves and learned a few new plants and butterflies. Read the rest of this entry »

Hills Creek Reservoir Starting to Bloom

Last week, Sabine and I went out to Hills Creek Reservoir. It was a gorgeous day, and the botanizing turned out to be even better than we had anticipated. We knew there was Crocidium multicaule out there, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen so many there. They are outstanding on the cliffs between the 7 and 8 mile markers on Road 21 along the west side of the reservoir, creating sweeps of yellow on the rocks. The Lomatium hallii and Ribes roezlii var. cruentum are just starting there as well and just a couple of little Mimulus alsinoides. We climbed up one of the less steep banks to see if we could get higher up the rocks. Loads of poison oak and, although we got to the edge of the cliff, there wasn’t much new to see there. But on the way out, under the many ocean sprays on the upper bank, we found 2 dried flower stalks of what I’m almost positive is Orobanche pinorum. Since it is near the beginning of the deer trail we took, it should be easy to check for fresh flowers later in the season without getting into the poison oak. When we got back to the road, there was a chorus of frogs in a ditch, along with lots of egg masses. I saw one frog, but alas, they quieted down as we approached. That’s one of the prettiest sounds in the whole world.

Garrya fremontii

male Fremont’s silktassel (Garrya fremontii)

A quick stop at the bathroom at the bridge on the south side of the lake brought another surprise. In the dozens of times I’ve stopped there, I never noticed there is a Garrya fremontii growing in the parking area. It was a handsome male in full peak bloom, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Its long dangling flowers were dispersing tons of pollen, my camera bag was yellow from a thick coating of it. That was worth the whole trip.

We continued on to Youngs Flat Picnic area for lunch and a quick check on the Piperias. They are starting to come up, but there should be many more emerging in a little while. Nothing else blooming there but snow queens, but we did see two California tortoiseshells. Then we stopped at a south-facing road cut where over 20 tortoiseshells were fluttering about! More Crocidium blooming on the rocks here and one Clarkia rhomboidea plant with the coleus like purple veins on the young leaves. We had fun trying to identify all the annual leaves coming up as well. We hiked up through the woods and back down through a small meadow to the road. The seeps were filled with blooming Nemophila pedunculata and tiny Montia fontana. I was surprised to see so much of it and out so early. Farther east along the road by Campers Flat and then at Big Pine Opening, we saw more of both in seepy spots. Big Pine Opening was burned a couple of years ago. Last year it was filled with supersized annuals presumably enjoying the extra carbon. It is filled with annuals again. It was also interesting to see a number of shrubs that have come back from the roots after burning including several willows coming into bloom that looked like Salix scouleriana, but they had bright red branches.

I hope you all get a chance to get out and enjoy this insanely early spring!

Great Gray Owl at Moon Point!

Cottongrass by Moon Lake

Spiranthes stellata, note the starry (not hooded) flowers in a single rank

Sabine and I went to Moon Point yesterday. I wanted to look more carefully around Moon Lake. We went there first taking a short cut from spur road 444 so we could wear our rubber boots and do the trail separately later in regular shoes. Only addition was Platanthera sparsiflora north of the lake. I still haven’t figured out the Potamogeton there but got some pictures and will try to learn them. There was some Parnassia cirrata and Comarum palustre in bloom and lots of pretty cottongrass. Absolutely no sign left of the Lewisia pygmaea we saw in July, but I wasn’t so surprised about that. The tiny pond had dried up as usual and had some Rorippa and tiny Plagiobothrys like I saw last year. Don’t know if I’ll ever learn those.

On our way up the road to the trailhead we stopped when I saw some Spiranthes on the roadside. It’s only the second place I’ve seen them blooming so far this season. They turned out to be Spiranthes stellata! There were about 30–40 in bloom, and when I dug one up for the Herbarium, there were half a dozen tiny plants up against it. They must make offsets. Interestingly, the article Paul Martin Brown put in the NPSO Bulletin says they have single descending tubers. The plant I dug up had multiple tubers, but the tiny vegetative plants next to it definitely had single descending tubers. The ones in my picture don’t descend because they are just too plump. None of the plants were more than maybe 9″ tall. It is a delicate thing. There was a wet ditch to the right of the creek, but that was more north-facing and in the shade. No Spiranthes there but lots of Platanthera stricta and Boykinia occidentalis, neither of which were in the sunny ditch. Read the rest of this entry »

Top of Cone Peak Starting to Bloom

Dodecatheon pulchellum

Dodecatheon pulchellum

I thought you might be interested in what Sabine Dutoit and I found at Cone Peak yesterday. Not surprisingly, things are way behind. There’s quite a bit more snow than when I was there on either 6/3/06 and 5/24/04. I’d say it’s 4 weeks or more behind the last few years. Almost everywhere I’ve been able to get to so far is 3-4 weeks behind. There was a lot of snow right at the beginning of the trail but we could see the top was open so we figured we’d give it a try. The trail cleared off shortly but then, before the series of switchbacks, we ran into lots of snow again and lost the trail. We just headed for the top across the snow and eventually got right up to the main meadow and the trail which were half open and covered with Claytonia lanceolata. Then we crossed a bit more snow right at the base of the trail and were all clear from then on.

green hairstreak

green hairstreak on top of Cone Peak

From the many Erythronium grandiflorum and Orogenia fusiformis blooming near the snow, it got better and better. The seep area is outstanding right now. Solid Romanzoffia thompsonii, Saxifraga rufidula, and Dodecatheon pulchellum. By the time we got to the top there were lots of Lomatium martindalei, Cerastium arvense, Delphinium menziesii, Phlox diffusa, and Ivesia gordonii in perfect bloom. The Castilleja rupicola was starting, but the Douglasia laevigata was actually fading. Boy, do you have to get out early to catch that one! One addition to my list was Valeriana scouleri coming into bloom. It was growing in the west-facing rocks right next to Castilleja rupicola. I’ve seen that combination many times. Also there was quite a bit of the Arabis I sent Sweet Home District botanist Alice Smith pictures of several years ago from the top of Iron Mountain. I was also really excited to see 2 green hairstreaks right on top and a cute ground squirrel. The air was pretty clear and the view was outstanding. Even Mt. Hood looked really close. It was really interesting to see blooming Senecio integerrimus when they were all still in bud at Tire Mountain (<4000′) on Friday. Cone Peak really blooms from the top down!

Ivesia gordonii

Ivesia gordonii and nice view of Iron Mountain from top of Cone Peak

On the way back down, we were able to follow the trail down most of the switchbacks with minimal snow crossing. There were loads of fresh trilliums and the Viola sheltonii had already finished. We felt rather foolish having done so much bushwhacking on the way up… until we lost the trail again in the snow. We simply couldn’t find the blue markers, so we just headed down and picked up the trail, lost it again, headed down and found it again near the beginning. Luckily, you can’t really get lost there. And on a weekend, the traffic is steady enough that you can hear the road all the time. For someone unfamiliar with the trail, however, I’d suggest waiting a week for it to melt out more near the bottom.

As you can see from the photo of the Ivesia, there’s lots of snow on Iron Mountain. We walked over plenty of 5 foot drifts, so it is probably even worse over there. Tombstone Prairie is mostly snowed in, but the open areas have blooming skunk cabbage. Also, the road to Echo Basin was clear (we moved some small trees) until just before the trailhead where you hit lots of snow.

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