Posts Tagged ‘ferns’

Knobcone Pines on Bear Mountain Meadows

Bear Mountain Meadows seen in the distance from near Hills Peak. We got as far as the one in the center of the photo.

A couple of weeks ago (see Uncommon Plants in Southeastern Lane County), snow kept me from checking out the series of large meadows on the lower slopes of Bear Mountain (the peak in extreme southeastern Lane County—apparently there are seven in Oregon, two others just in Lane County! As Sabine often points out, people aren’t very creative naming geographic features.) Despite the ominous date—Friday the 13th—this time we were very lucky finding a way up to this intriguing area. It turns out that Molly Juillerat, the Middle Fork district botanist, was also hoping to see this area, as it was on a list of meadows to survey for possible restoration. She and Sabine and I were joined by another intrepid botanical explorer, John Koenig. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Fractals = Math + Art + Nature

Outcrops at Tidbits look a bit like smaller versions of the larger rock formations.

I hope you all have had a chance to see Nova’s 2008 episode on fractals that was repeated last week. If not, click here to see “Hunting the Hidden Dimension.” It is an excellent overview of fractals, where and why they are found in nature and natural systems, and how scientists are applying fractal geometry to a wide variety of applications. Read the rest of this entry »

Unexpected Finds at Mount June

I never had gotten back to further explore the west side of Mount June (see Spring Phacelia on Mount June), so yesterday (October 7), I headed back up there. It was still foggy in the valley but had been clear above when I woke up in the morning, so I hoped Mount June would be above the clouds. It’s close enough to the valley that it often is foggy even up at the top. Thankfully, I drove out of the fog and enjoyed the sun all day.

Fog can be seen from the rocky north end of the west meadow

I headed straight up past the first outcrop to just before next opening. Here I turned right and headed down through the open woods, pretty much due west, following the least steep incline. I quickly popped out into the west meadow just above the wonderful rocky dikes. No great view of the valley this time, just a blanket of fog, its fingers creeping up the ridges below me. There was still some seed left in the numerous larger patches of Penstemon rupicola and Saxifraga bronchialis growing on the steep sides of the rocks. Some of the mats of Penstemon were three feet wide. They must have been glorious in bloom. What with the cold spring we had, I was too early to see them in flower this year on my previous trip in June, normally their peak season. Growing on top of the rocks were little tufts of Minuartia rubella. Most of the seeds were already gone, but there were at least three plants with a few fresh flowers. Considering how rarely I see this little cutie, it was quite a coincidence that this was the third trip in a row I’d seen it. And all three sites had some reblooming plants. Very little else was in bloom, only the little annual knotweeds and a few rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia). Fresh leaves were out on Micranthes (Saxifraga) rufidula and Lomatium hallii. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Bloom at McCord Creek Falls

Streambank arnica (A. lanceolata) prefers wet areas like the spray zone of Elowah Falls.

McCord Creek Falls is a great place to get a closeup look at the plants that grow on the spectacular but normally out-of-reach cliffs along the Gorge. At such a low elevation, it blooms earlier than most sites that are in the Western Cascades, so I’ve never checked it out this late in the year. On Wednesday (July 21), I was happily surprised to find a number of things still in bloom. Late-blooming Campanula rotundifolia is in its prime now, and the pretty and rare Erigeron oreganus and Hieracium longiberbe were still blooming well. Penstemon richardsonii was still showing a lot of color, and the ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor) was dripping its pretty cream wands off the cliffs. In the cool, wet conditions down at Elowah Falls, Arnica lanceolata (formerly amplexicaulis) and Packera (Senecio) bolanderi were blooming well.

I saw some things I’d missed in the past and had one nice addition to my list. I finally saw the white-flowered Spiraea betulifolia, and it was in flower. That’s a new plant for me. It doesn’t range very far south in Oregon. It grows in the woods right along the trail, but with all the other shrubs and its late flowering, I’d never noticed it before, although I knew from others’ lists that it was there. Some Madia gracilis was just starting on the trail along the cliff. I’d never noticed it before either.

Woodsia scopulina is noticeably hairy but otherwise might be mistaken for the common Cystopteris fragilis.

It turns out a number of the ferns on the cliff face are Rocky Mountain woodsia (Woodsia scopulina). I’m surprised I didn’t look more closely at them before. I think that perhaps because they were still in good shape when the similar but glabrous fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis) would have been shriveling up, they were more conspicuous. It does appear that Woodsia scopulina is found at a number of Gorge sites, so it isn’t very surprising. Still, it is one of my favorite rock ferns and not very common in Oregon, so it was good to see it there. As late as it was, I was hoping to collect some seed but didn’t have much luck with the gorgeous Synthyris stellata. I did find some Bolandra oregana seed though and just a few Erigeron seeds were ripe. It is always worth checking out a spot well past “peak” flowering. You never know what you’ll find.

The Rocky Meadows of Cloverpatch

Anyone who has driven down Highway 58 toward Oakridge in Lane County has probably noticed the distinctive terraced meadows of Cloverpatch Butte across the river. The Cloverpatch Trail cuts through just a few of these, giving a small glimpse of the meadow, rock, and seep habitats found all along the south slope. Most of the meadows are well below 3000′, making this more upland prairie than subalpine meadow, but elements of both are present.

Cloverpatch Butte from the ridge to the south. The meadow with the Dodecatheon can be seen in the upper right. Most of the large meadows well below appear to be inaccessible (not that that will stop me from trying!).

The trail starts at the east end maybe halfway up (reached from TIre Creek Road 5826, 3.8 miles up from North Shore Rd 5821), bypassing the easternmost meadow by only about 50′. It then switchbacks through the woods and into several meadows in the middle before heading uphill through the woods continuing north to road 124 and the top of Cloverpatch Butte itself. At the end of February, I went to Cloverpatch hoping to find a way to the uppermost meadows at the west end. With the help of my wonderful GPS (how did we survive without all these great electronic gizmos?), I had no problem finding it. There were some dazzling drifts of Crocidium multicaule and a great view west down Lookout Point Reservoir. I had thought maybe I could check that out again yesterday, but my main goal for the day was to explore the highest meadow up to the east. I had been there a number of times before but had never done a very thorough job. Two plants of great interest to me grow up there: Dodecatheon pulchellum and Woodsia scopulina. Both are uncommon in the Western Cascades. Read the rest of this entry »

First Trip to Cloverpatch in 4 years

Cloverpatch is a great place, but I hadn’t made it there in 4 years. I had decided yesterday that I was going to stay home today and finish vacuuming, do laundry, and take care of lots of paperwork piling up on my desk. Forget that! When I woke up this morning and had actually slept well (quiet cats for once) and saw that it was not so hot, I hightailed it for Cloverpatch.

I had 4 plants in mind to find and photograph. Out of thousands of budded up Castilleja tenuis in the main meadow along the trail, only one was in bloom, but that was all I needed to get a good closeup of the individual flower. In the uppermost and easternmost meadow (off trail) I found a nice patch of Castilleja attenuata, the other ex-Orthocarpus, to get a similar closeup. Check and check.

Woodsia scopulina

Woodsia scopulina

The next plant was much more of a challenge. I first found Woodsia scopulina in that uppermost meadow in 2004. On my last trip there in 2005, I tried in vain to relocate it. It just wasn’t on the rock face I thought it was on, and there are so many up there. And with all the Cystopteris fragilis everywhere, it’s hard to pick out a Woodsia from a distance. Little did I know when Sabine and I were discussing the large Arctostaphylos (canescens or a hairless columbiana—Ken Chambers thinks they should be lumped and I agree) up at the very top of the meadow, that the ferns were just on the other side of the nearest outcrop, 10 or 15 feet away. Today I searched many rock faces before I stopped in frustration, threw up my hands and cried “I just can’t find it!” (with a few other choice words sprinkled in). No sooner had the words left my mouth when I realized I was looking right at them! Now I don’t know how I ever found them in the first place, 5 small plants tucked away on this large rock face. Near them were a few fading Dodecatheon pulchellum and lots of gorgeous Cascadia (Saxifraga) nuttallii (it was going gangbusters in all the seeps up top). Both much more conspicuous plants. I was so relieved to have found them, that they are still there, and that I wasn’t imagining them. And I now have photos of the whole area and a GPS location so I won’t lose them again. One of these days, I’ll try to search the rest of the many rock faces up there to see if there is more. And someday, I’d like to search all the meadows since the trail cuts through only a few. Read the rest of this entry »

Olallie Mountain Trip

Dicentra uniflora

Unusual two-flowered steer's head (Dicentra uniflora)

I went to Olallie Mountain yesterday. Perfect time for all the snow-melt stuff I was looking for (still some small patches of old snow as well as some of the new fallen stuff from the other day). Lots of fresh glacier lilies, lovely swaths of Mertensia bella with many more in bud, fading Caltha leptosepala in the meadow creek, great clumps of trilliums some with their flowers browsed on, blooming Orogenia fusiformis and my first look at a Dicentra uniflora still in bud. Also saw a Dicentra “biflora” with 2 flowers! That was a first. The Ribes erythrocarpum was in bloom weaving through the clumps of beargrass and over fallen logs.

One of the most interesting things of the day was after I relocated the Polystichum andersonii. The new fronds are still unfurling and the old ones are tattered and flattened on the ground. Having discovered they have vegetative buds like some of the garden Polystichums I have (a friend gave me some off of her plant and they are growing well), I looked at the old leaves and discovered almost all of them did have one bud. Some were already rooting and pinning the old leaf to the ground. While I still only found the 2 large plants from last year, there will be more there in the future! I never understood what good it did having all those plantlets up on the frond if they don’t fall off. But now I see that the problem in my garden is there is no snow to press the frond onto the ground. It’s actually (not surprisingly) a very efficient system.

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