Posts Tagged ‘Claytonia’

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 »

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 »

Late Start to 2023 Botanizing

While the center yellow lines were painted by a road crew, Mother Nature created the line along the edge of the road with a bright yellow ribbon of gold stars. They are also sprinkled all over the cliffs along Hills Creek Reservoir.

A little rove beetle(?) has gotten completely covered with pollen from the tiny flowers of skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus).

I almost always start my botanizing year with a trip in March to the Rigdon area in southeastern Lane County. With the cold, wet weather of March and April and the lateness of the wildflower emergence, I didn’t get out there until April 26! As I suspected, the wet spring was ideal for gold stars (Crocidium multicaule), and most everything was at least 3 weeks later than usual. Here are a few highlights.
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Changing Waves of Flowers on Two Trips to Bristow Prairie

I was impressed that the whole group was willing to climb down the rocky ridge I call “Lewisia Point” to see one of the few populations of Columbia lewisia south of the Columbia River Gorge area. The lewisia is growing in the rocks by some low-growing serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia). Click on the photo to blow it up to see the lewisia’s delicate pink flowers.

A tiny bee enjoys the very small flowers of Thompson’s mistmaiden, a Western Cascade endemic.

For years, I have been planning to lead a trip up to Bristow Prairie for the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. I always ended up having other commitments or others were leading trips around the same time. But, at long last, there were no conflicts, and on Saturday, June 25, Jenny Moore, Middle Fork district botanist, and I brought a group up to Bristow Prairie. It was a very hot day in the valley, and I was surprised at how hot it was even at over 5000′, but I’d already planned a fairly tame exploration of some of the highlights of the diverse area, so I thought it was doable in the 80° heat. We followed the same route I’d taken for a prehike on Monday, June 20, the first day of nice weather after I’d heard from Chad Sageser that the snow had melted and that he’d cleared the last of the trees off the road (thanks again, Chad!). The plan was to go to “Lewisia Point” first to see the rare Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana) and the nearby shaley area, which has a number of annuals that like the moisture that remains there after the snow melts. Then back to the meadow to make a loop over to the rock garden, across the meadow to the lake and surrounding wetland, and then back to the road. Read the rest of this entry »

Groundhog Mountain Reconnoiter

The roadbanks along Road 451 were painted blue with large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) and Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii). There were also large clumps of early blue violet (Viola adunca) to complete the color scheme.

After crossing the rough road, we parked to admire the view near Logger Butte and decide where we wanted to go first. I was thrilled to find some butterfly eggs on the rockcress (Boechera sp., maybe acutina) along with an adult Julia orangetip (sorry, ours aren’t Sara orangetips anymore!), possibly the mom of the eggs.

With the Burke Herbarium Collecting Foray only a week away, but with a lot of work to do and taking time off for the foray, we decided it was our last chance to scope out potential sites, so we should split up. So on June 17, Jenny Moore, Middle Fork District botanist, and John Koenig headed up Coal Creek Road, while Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, and I went up to the Groundhog Mountain area. With many of our previous routes to Groundhog becoming less drivable, we decided to try the relatively short (~10 miles of gravel) and direct route from Road 21 up Road 2135. I’d never done this, but I knew members of the North American Butterfly Association were going up that way. Since we were in the big Forest Service vehicle, this was a good opportunity for me to check out the road without testing myself or my smaller vehicle. I used to drive up any road to check it out, but after all the flats I got, and with the loss of money for upkeep and the subsequent degradation of Forest Service roads, those days seem to be long gone.

Going through the private timber land, the road was actually fine and the forest quite pretty. I was surprised because I had seen very large clearcuts in the Seneca land from last year’s trip to Groundhog; they must have been off of some side roads. When we hit the National Forest land, the road condition worsened, but it was still okay. Then we reached the part I’d seen on Google Earth where there is no protective forest, just rocks on one side and a big dropoff on the other. Since I wasn’t driving (thank you Jenny!), I didn’t get too anxious, but we decided we shouldn’t send the herbarium folks that way, and after visiting several spots at Groundhog, we headed back the long way (~15 miles of gravel) past the Warner Lookout. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Shy Creek Meadows Area

A view of the snow on Diamond Peak and the Calapooyas from the manzanita-covered main Shy Creek Meadow

On April 4, I brought John Koenig and Sheila Klest to see the area I’m calling Shy Creek Meadows, several meadows along abandoned forest road 034 near Coal Creek in the Rigdon area of Lane County that I first visited last fall (see Further Low-Elevation Meadow Exploration). While we didn’t find any purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia), we had a great day. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

First Flowers at Hobart Bluff

Yellow bells is the perfect name for this cutie.

Yellow bells is the perfect name for this cutie.

With a few more days of dry weather predicted before the return of showers, I made a last minute decision to head down to the Rogue Valley for the annual rock garden plant sale of NARGS member Kathy Allen on Wednesday, April 20th. While it is worth the 3-hour drive just to see her amazing garden and shop for rock garden treasures you can’t find anywhere else, I always try to get in some hiking, especially since the bloom season in southwestern Oregon is always ahead of ours in Lane County. After a delightful shopping trip and an afternoon hike on Medford’s Roxy Ann Peak at Prescott Park, I had a chance to attend a fun meeting of the local NARGS chapter and see a number of my friends from the group as well as the speaker, Malcolm McGregor, a British expert gardener and author of a terrific book on saxifrages. I had taken him out botanizing years ago on a previous trip to the US, so it was great to see him again. Read the rest of this entry »

Super Early Look at Snowless Bristow Prairie

My first post of the year, and it’s already April. What with the heat and forest fires, my summer hiking season petered out much earlier than usual last year. Then my work with the Oregon Flora Project ramped up, and I’ve been super busy all winter. I’ve been editing, designing, and doing layout for the new Flora of Oregon (more about that another time). I’m usually happy to be parked in front of my computer most days in the winter, but with all the glorious weather during this winter-that-wasn’t, it’s been really tough not having time to go out, especially after getting reports from my friends of getting up into the Western Cascades in February(!). We’re almost done with the Flora, and we just had a brief, much-needed respite while the publisher read through the manuscript. At last, I was able to take a day off and get up into the Cascades to see what it looked like after this unusual, largely snowless winter.

Looking north from Bristow Prairie, there is no snow in sight—very scary for late March! In the center of the photo is the imposing south face of "Mosaic Rock". Youngs Rock and Moon Point can also be seen, just to the left of the dark tree on the left.

Looking north from Bristow Prairie, there is no snow in sight—very scary for late March! In the center of the photo is the imposing south face of “Mosaic Rock”. Youngs Rock and Moon Point can also be seen, just to the left of the dark tree on the left.

 

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Back to Elk Camp Shelter—Not Once But Twice

The meadow by the Elk Camp Shelter was awash in color, with both marsh marigolds and mountain shooting stars still in their prime.

The meadow by the Elk Camp Shelter was awash in color, with both marsh marigolds and mountain shooting stars still in their prime.

After the beautiful day I had enjoying the first flowers of the season near Elk Camp Shelter last month (see Wetland Bloom Starts with a Bang Near Elk Camp Shelter), I decided I should try to come back every few weeks and follow the whole season as it progresses. I’ve thought about doing this many times, but it is hard to squeeze in so many trips to the same place, especially when there are so many great spots to visit. But this one is so easy for me to get to, and the only time I’d seen this area before this year was at the very tail end of the season, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Read the rest of this entry »

Wetland Bloom Starts with a Bang Near Elk Camp Shelter

Marsh marigold

Marsh marigold (Clatha leptosepala) and skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) put on a great show in a wetland at the corner of Roads 142 and 226.

Our Native Plant Society chapter meeting was Monday night (May 20), but according to the forecast (and for once they were right!), it was also the only dry, sunny day of the week. That left me in a quandary about where to go—or if I should try to go anywhere at all. On top of that, I had a terrible night’s sleep, so I was already pretty tired. But as I lay awake at 4 am, I got the great idea to drive out Road 18 along Fall Creek and see if I could get up to Elk Camp Shelter. If I couldn’t get there, I could always walk along the Fall Creek trail. Either way, I wouldn’t be too far from home and could get back in plenty of time to drive into Eugene for the evening meeting.

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