Posts Tagged ‘Eriogonum’

Monitoring an Invasive at Tire Mountain

The stretch of deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) along the trail is always a favorite spot for photographs.

Emily looking at an almost solid spread of knawel that was yellowing as it died back.

Many years ago, I noticed a weed in the large meadow at Tire Mountain I call the dike meadow because of the prominent dike at the east end. It is called Scleranthus annuus and goes by the unusual name of annual knawel. Like some other members of Caryophyllaceae, the pink family or carnation family, it has inconspicuous, petalless flowers. It would be easy to miss if it didn’t spread so badly. I’d more or less forgotten about it and hadn’t realized how large the population had become, in spite of passing it numerous times over the years. Luckily, Bruce Newhouse had noticed and called attention to it to the botanists at the Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest. On June 20th, I accompanied Leela Hickman, the assistant botanist, along with seasonals Sol and Emily and a crew of four interns from the Student Conservation Association to take a look at the knawel. Of course, we looked at all the native wildflowers as well. Leela was the only one of them who’d been to Tire Mountain, and that was on the trip I led for the Native Plant Society of Oregon last year (see NPSO Annual Meeting Trip to Tire Mountain). So other than seeing how bad the knawel had spread, everyone enjoyed the beautiful display of wildflowers and the many interesting insects at one of the best wildflower trails in the district. 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 »

Finally Back to Potter Mountain

On the east side of the ridge, the gravel is filled with marumleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum marifolium). This attracted a lot of pollinators.

A spring white caterpillar has just shed its skin to allow it to grow a bit more. I checked most of the rockcress (Boechera sp.) I saw. I found this caterpillar and another smaller one as soon as we hit the rocky area. I only spotted one egg. In the phlox area, I chased a fast-moving adult white who never let me get close enough for an ID, but it might also have been a spring white.

Several years ago, my husband Jim and I tried to get up to Potter Mountain, but the winter storms had left so many branches on the road that we gave up in frustration. I really wanted him to see the beautiful rocks up there, so I had again planned to go up last year, but then a fire broke out right next to the summit—the Potter Mountain fire. Thwarted again. The third time’s a charm, they say, and we did finally make it up there on July 2. It was a beautiful day—though a bit warm—so we had a great view of the surrounding mountains. We bushwhacked north on the ridge as far as the helicopter landing spot—only about 6/10 of a mile from the road. We’d missed most of the early-season flowers, but there were still plenty of things in bloom and enough butterflies to keep me happy. And since we accessed Potter Mountain via Staley Creek Road 2134 (in good shape, by the way), we were able to cool off at the end of the day with a short stop at the wonderful Staley Creek Gorge. Here are some photographic highlights of our day. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflying with an Expert at Bristow Prairie

Neil Bjorklund at the rock garden all geared up for a day of butterfly photography.

One of the odd cat’s ears (Calochortus sp.) I’ve seen so often at Bristow Prairie. Not only does it have two extra petals, it’s not clear which species it is.

It had been almost 20 years since I’d had the opportunity to go out in the field with butterfly expert Neil Bjorklund. Neil’s website Butterflies of Oregon is the resource for the butterflies of our state, and he was a co-founder of our local chapter of the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). On June 28, we headed up to Bristow Prairie, one of my all-time favorite spots. Neil had been to Bristow Prairie a number of times, but he hadn’t been to the small wetlands that—as far as we know at present—are the northernmost outposts of Sierra Nevada blues. He also wasn’t aware of the south-facing bald I call “the rock garden” or “Lewisia Point,” two other excellent places to see butterflies. Our trip was mutually beneficial—I showed him my favorite spots, and he taught me a lot more about identifying butterflies. 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 »

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 »

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 »

Unusual Insect and Plant Sightings at Hemlock Lake

After a long, hot day, I couldn’t face driving all the way up to the campground at Hemlock Lake, so I stayed at Cool Water Campground on Little River Road. Although it was getting late, I went down to cool my feet in the river and came upon two crayfish. One stayed tucked away between some rocks, but the other seemed really annoyed that I was trying to photograph it. It even chased me at one point, putting its claws up as though to challenge me to a fight. They were still there in the morning. What a wonderful find at a pretty but fairly unexceptional spot.

The chatterbox orchid, also known as stream orchid, is found in wet places, often by creeks. It is mostly found at lower elevations, so I rarely see it. The plants strange and colorful “faces” are always a treat. 

I haven’t done much camping over the last few years. Partly that’s a result of a busier work schedule, but it’s also due to more wildfires and heat waves. My van becoming too old (25 years!) and untrustworthy for gravel roads also played a big part. I was determined to get in a camping trip this summer and finally decided on a quick overnight down to Hemlock Lake in Douglas County. I hadn’t been there in 5 years, and that trip was cut short due to inclement weather (see Weather Woes at Hemlock Lake). My first day (July 21st) started out a bit rough as I decided to go the back way from Cottage Grove—a route I hadn’t done in many years. It is backcountry but all paved, and I figured it would save a lot of miles and keep me within my electric car’s range. Big mistake. It may have been shorter, but it took a really long time, and I made a wrong turn at an unmarked intersection coming down to Highway 138 in Idylyld Park rather than farther east near Steamboat since I had planned to look for purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) seed at Medicine Creek Road east of there. It was also way hotter than the forecast for the area had led me to believe. The worst of it, however, was the last 10 miles down Rock Creek Road. The last few years have not been kind to the North Umpqua. So many wildfires have hit the area. I drove through mile after mile of dead forest and empty hills. By the time I got to Hwy 138, I was in tears. The loss of wildlife habitat was devastating. I had planned to head up to Hemlock Lake via Road 4714 south of Steamboat, but I had been warned by the Forest Service that part of it had burned, and there was a lot of logging and road work going on in the area. Not wanting to face any more depressing burned forest, after a somewhat disappointing trip to Medicine Creek (too early for milkweed seeds, too late for most everything else, but at least I saw some flat-spurred piperia (Platanthera [Piperiatransversa) in bloom), I drove all the way back to Glide and headed out Little River Road. Thank goodness, rainy season has finally begun as I write this in late October, and the North Umpqua survived this year without any wildfires! Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous Day at Grizzly Peak

Siskiyou onion (Allium siskiyouense) was one of the standout wildflowers of the day. Its bright pink flowers lit up every rocky open area.

The variety of Camassia quamash here, var. breviflora, looked very different to me than what I have at home and usually see in the Cascades. Common camas I’m familiar with can be distinguished from great camas (C. leichtlinii) by its bilaterally symmetric flowers. But these were radially symmetric, and the inflorescences were tighter. They were in bloom in several seepy areas along the trail.

On June 30th, the second day of our short trip to the southern edge of the Western Cascades, my husband, Jim, and I headed slightly north to Grizzly Peak. We unplugged our car, now thankfully fully charged, and left Green Springs Inn after a very quiet and pleasant stay. We headed up to the east side of the Shale City Road loop and drove this narrow but paved road to the intersection of BLM Rd 38-2E-9.2, where there is a sign for the trailhead. I’ll admit that I was nervous until we saw the sign as I usually came up from Ashland where there are lots of signs pointing the way to the trailhead, and this way there wasn’t any road sign on Shale City Road at all. Thankfully we had a map and were pretty sure we were on the right road.

The day was perfect—clear and sunny but not at all hot. There were a number of cars in the parking area of this popular trail, but we only occasionally passed a small party of hikers, so it seemed much quieter than one might imagine. There were lots of flowers in bloom, including many that I rarely see. There were also a decent number of pollinators though not as many butterflies as I have seen on other trips. Here are some photos from the day.

Buckwheats were already in bloom, and this sulphur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) attracted a couple of cedar hairstreaks as well as several different beetles.

More of the same Peck’s phacelia (Phacelia peckii) that I’d seen the day before on Hobart Peak was in a number of open areas. It was a bit fresher and far more prevalent than I remember from past visits, probably from the above-normal moisture this spring. While looking at old lists, I noticed some confusion about whether the annual species here was Pringle’s (P. pringlei) or Peck’s phacelia. In a paper I found online (OregonFlora hasn’t completed the Phacelia treatment yet), the split in the key between the two similar species was that Peck’s has hairy filaments, which these did.

Eaton’s fleabane (Erigeron eatonii) is another species I rarely see. On Grizzly Peak, it seems to occur only in open areas in the large meadow in the center of the loop section of the trail. The Peck’s phacelia could be found alongside it there.

Bloomer’s fleabane (Erigeron bloomeri) is very cute with its button-like rayless flower heads. It grows in the rocky area just south of the loop trail. There’s now a pretty obvious path through the area that reconnects with the main trail.

This area was all new to Jim, so he spent quite a while enjoying the views. Happily, that gave me more time to photograph flowers! There is a good view of Mount Shasta from the off-trail area south of the main trail.

As we headed back, I was able to catch one quick photo of a large marble, a butterfly that only comes this far west near the California border. It was nectaring on bluedicks (now Dipterostemon capitatus).

The burned area at the south end of the trail is continuing to recover. It had been 8 years since I’d hiked this trail, so the young ponderosa pine and other conifers I had seen before were noticeably larger. Great polemonium (Polemonium carneum) was in full bloom in this area as well as just about everywhere along the trail.

There were more bees than I had seen anytime so far this year. Bumblebees were especially abundant, and seemed to be enjoying a wide variety of flowers. While I’m not sure of the bee species, clockwise from the upper left, the flowers are roundleaf alumroot (Heuchera cylindrica), Bloomer’s fleabane, Siskiyou onion, and candy flower (Claytonia sibirica). Note the pink pollen on the bee on the candy flower.

Late Afternoon at Hobart Bluff

Looking west-northwest from Hobart Peak toward Ashland, the yellow Bloomer’s fleabane, white ball-headed sandwort, and red paintbrush are beautifully backlit in the early evening light.

Although it is listed as having a range of 239 miles, our all-electric car (a Kia Niro EV) can go around 280 miles in the summer. That’s plenty for most day trips, but it is a bit limiting for adventures farther afield, and the vehicles I had been driving for the last 20 years are still chugging along but not reliable enough for driving in the mountains. Thankfully, more chargers are popping up all the time, so I’ve been checking the maps of where I can charge the car. I was surprised and pleased to find the Green Springs Inn in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument has its own charger, albeit a slow one. I hadn’t been down that way in a while, and my husband, Jim, had never been there, so we decided on a quick overnight trip and booked a room at the inn for June 29. Read the rest of this entry »

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