Posts Tagged ‘Cougar Reservoir’

Butterflies and Moths at Castle Rock and Cougar Reservoir

The gorgeous mountain cat’s ears attracted cedar hairstreaks.

Several Lorquin’s admirals were among the butterflies visiting the dogbane patch.

One of the field trip sites for the recent Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting was Castle Rock. It’s a relatively low-elevation rocky knob near Cougar Reservoir. When I checked the list of all my hiking trips, I discovered I hadn’t been there in 10 years. I’m not sure why it fell off my radar because I used to go every year. After so many weeks without rain, I figured it might be really dry and not very interesting, but I decided to check it out anyway, and I’m so glad I did. On June 16, I headed to Cougar Reservoir first. I was surprised there was still water dripping down the cliffs near the dam and into the concrete ditch where there were some tadpoles swimming around. That was also a surprise. I’ve been seeing a few little black and white moths lately, Macculloch’s foresters (Androloma maccullochii), but here they were abundant, nectaring on lots of flowers but especially the abundant weedy daisies (Leucanthemum vulgaris). I was also able to get seeds of Scouler’s valerian (Valeriana sitchensis var. scouleri) a little farther down the road. On my way back from the reservoir, I passed a strip of spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) growing under the railing—a terrible spot to take photos with cars going by but worth it for all the butterflies and moths. Read the rest of this entry »

Attack of the Orobanche

Hundreds of little Orobanche uniflora on the mossy cliff ledges

Dozens of little Orobanche uniflora on the mossy cliff ledges

Orobanche uniflora

Since Orobanche uniflora is parasitic, it has no leaves, just these pretty purple tubular flowers.

The genus Orobanche, known as broomrape, is made up of numerous species that parasitize other plants. With vampires and zombies all the rage these days, these plants ought to be more popular. I find them (broomrapes that is, not zombies) really fascinating and am always pleased to find them. I’m not sure if the other plants feel the same, but they don’t look as though they are being harmed by supporting their parasites. Different species of Orobanche use different hosts; some are very picky, while others have broader tastes. Orobanche uniflora is one of those with a number of potential hosts. With the common name of naked broomrape, you’d hardly think it would be such a pretty thing. It is also called one-flowered broomrape since it has only one flower per pedicel.

Probably the best place I’ve ever seen Orobanche uniflora is at Cougar Reservoir, just south of the McKenzie Highway. That was the my destination Tuesday, April 21, along with my friends Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray. All of us have been nursing injuries, so easy roadside botanizing was just what we were looking for. The flowers are fabulous in April along the roadside cliffs along the west side of the reservoir. There is more rustyhair saxifrage (Micranthes rufidula) and California mistmaiden (Romanzoffia californica) there than I’ve seen anywhere else. The saxifrage was on the wane, but the mistmaiden was gorgeous. Both these species are hosts for naked broomrape, so, not so coincidentally, Cougar Reservoir is also a haven for this species. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Flowers Along Cougar Reservoir

Gold stars likes the moss along the road. Unfortunately the highway department does not.

Gold stars likes the moss along the road. Unfortunately the highway department does not.

Last Wednesday, April 3, Nancy Bray and I went to see what was blooming on the cliffs along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. I frequently explore the similar habitat along Hills Creek Reservoir, about 30 miles to the south, but had never spent any time along Cougar Reservoir until last year (see Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir). This is probably in large part because the trails I frequent near Cougar Reservoir (Lowder Mountain, Quaking Aspen Swamp, and Olallie Mountain) are accessed by the road that crosses the dam, missing much of the good habitat along the west side of the reservoir, and by the time the higher elevation blooming season is in gear, the roadside plants are mostly finished. On the other hand, at Hills Creek Reservoir, most of my favorite hikes, including the Calapooya Mountains sites, require that I drive past the roadside cliffs on the west side, which I seem to do on a weekly basis. I’ll have to add Cougar Reservoir to my favorite early season botanizing sites because it is really floriferous and has more seepy cliff than I’ve seen anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry »

Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir

The stream running down the concrete-lined ditch along the base of the cliff is filled with plants that have seeded or fallen down from above.

The weekend before last at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower Festival, I was surprised to see someone had brought in blooming cliff penstemon (Penstemon rupicola). It was (and is still) blooming in my garden, but I didn’t know of any low elevations sites, south of the Columbia Gorge anyway, where it would be blooming this early. It turns out, Tobias Policha had been collecting along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. He told me the penstemon was blooming along the roadcut. How had I never noticed that? He also saw a rare sedge there. I’d passed it many times and wondered about the fountain-like grassy clumps on the wet rocks. I’ve explored the wonderful roadcut cliffs along Hills Creek Reservoir countless times, but, although I’d thought about it, I’d never stopped to check the similar habitat along Cougar Reservoir. Read the rest of this entry »

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