Posts Tagged ‘Fritillaria’

A Soggy Day on Tire Mountain

Great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) and harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) were a beautiful combination in the large dike meadow.

Chocolate lilies (Fritillaria affinis) were one of the highlights of the day. They were hard to spot at first, but once the sun came out, they weren’t so inconspicuous.

Last weekend, May 22, I was invited to join Molly Juillerat and her dog Loki again, this time with some of her vaccinated friends: Michelle, Annie, Judy, and Julie. Three of them had never been to Tire Mountain but had heard how great the flowers are. It was a damp and cloudy day—not the kind I normally venture out in—but it was great to meet some new plant-loving women, now that we can start to return to normal activities (at least outdoors). We were pretty chilled for most of the day, but it was hard to be too upset about how wet everything was after I’ve spent almost every day of the last couple of incredibly dry months wishing it would rain.

It was still early, so the sweeps of colorful annuals hadn’t started yet—although the rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) was in bud and was probably the most asked-about species all day. Brightly colored harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) and barestem lomatium (Lomatium nudicaule) were like bright lights in the gloom. The other lomatiums (L. utriculatum, L. hallii, and L. dissectum) were also flowering. The fawn-lilies (Erythronium oregonum) were at peak bloom but rather droopy from the rain. And, probably the most iconic flower on the mountain, the deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) was also coming into bloom. Definitely worth coming out, even on a damp and gray day! Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Bearbones Mountain

Looking to the northeast from the lowest tier we visited on the side ridge, you can see Groundhog Mountain (with all the logged areas) on the top ridge to Molly’s left and Moon Point and Youngs Rock to the right. Snow-covered Diamond Peak is in the distance. We wished we could see more snow on the lower elevations. I’ve still never been to the rocky opening in the near distance, but it is on my to-do list! 

Last year, a large downed tree kept me from getting to Bearbones Mountain. My previous trip had been back in May of 2017 (see Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones). I’d heard the road was open this year, and I was anxious to get back to see the early flowers, so on May 16, Molly Juillerat picked me up, and along with her energetic dog, Loki, we headed to Bearbones. I was relieved to finally get back there without any road issues. Bearbones Road 2127 goes through some private timber company land, and logging has taken a toll on the road over the past few years. It had been many more years since Molly had been there (and the first time for Loki!), so she was happy as well.

I’d never before noticed the interesting skirt at the base of this Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) just below the summit. That’s a common growth habit for subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) growing on ridges, but it’s very odd for growth for a yew. The bronze coloration of the upper needles is typical of plants on sunny ridges. The lavender flowers on the bottom left are mahala mat.

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First Trip of the Year to Bristow Prairie

An unusual “pink-eyed Mary” (Collinsia grandiflora)!

So far, my botany season has been spent checking out lower elevation meadows in the Cascades. But finally, on June 4, it seemed like it was time to head up to the higher elevation sites. The Middle Fork District office told me that the day before they’d gotten a truck through Road 5850, which rides the ridge near Bristow Prairie, although there was a little bit of snow still along the side of the road. They weren’t sure about the upper part of Road 2125 where it comes into 5850, but I figured if the rest was clear, that part would be too. Thankfully it was, as I really wanted to see the early flowers at Bristow Prairie.

I saw a sawfly (sounds like a nursery rhyme or riddle: “I thought I saw a sawfly fly”) for the first time on Eagles Rock a few weeks ago (photo on right) and found another on this trip in the rock garden area (left). Actually, they are not flies (order Diptera) but are in the same order (Hymenoptera) as bees and wasps, and they fly with their legs hanging down the way wasps do. This one looks like the genus Trichiosoma. Although they are large and look rather intimidating, they don’t sting.

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Quick Trip to Pyramid Rock

Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) was abundant and at its peak bloom.

Last week I went down to the North Umpqua for a few days of exploring. The Native Plant Society of Oregon Annual Meeting is this coming weekend in the North Umpqua, so I wanted to check out what trails might have melted out at this early date and to prepare for leading a hike during the meeting. 

Menzies larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), Hall’s lomatium (Lomatium hallii), and frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa) added lots of color to the scene.

After several days waiting for the weather to cooperate fully, I decided to go down on Thursday, June 1, even though it was still quite foggy and miserable at my house. I stalled until the road cameras indicated the sun was breaking through far better down in the Roseburg area. Unfortunately, all my dilly-dallying in the morning meant that I didn’t get on the road to Pyramid Rock until mid-afternoon. I wasn’t at all sure I could even get there, so my motivation was somewhat lacking. Indeed, I hit snow right at the trailhead for Bullpup Lake, where the road turns to face north briefly. I calculated I had a mile and a half of easy road walking and enough daylight to spend an hour on the rock, so I headed down the road on foot. There were a few small trees down, so it was just as well that I couldn’t drive any farther. The only problematic thing was finding the access to bushwhack out to Pyramid Rock. You can’t see it from the road, so I always clock the mileage to find the correct curve in the road. On foot, I wasn’t sure of my exact mileage, and there were several very similar curved spots in the road. But eventually I found the right spot and was able to climb down through the woods (across a rock pile with peeping pikas hiding below!) and out to the rock. Read the rest of this entry »

Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones

We had beautiful weather and terrific views. Looking west from the old lookout site on the summit, we could see plenty of snow still on Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak, both around 6000′, over 1000′ above our elevation on Bearbones. The little open area in the distance in the middle of the photo is Heavenly Bluff.

On Friday, May 19, Kris Ellsbree and I attempted to get to what I call “Heavenly Bluff” to see the early flowering Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). We drove up Road 2127, south of Hills Creek Reservoir. Like a number of other roads in the area, this seems to have deteriorated quite a bit in the last couple of years. We also had to cross two patches of snow. I had my doubts we could make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff this early, especially this year, so I wasn’t surprised to get stopped by a very large tree fallen across the road (which had already been removed by the time I called the Middle Fork Ranger District office on Tuesday, but they said there was snow blocking the road a mile farther up the road, so we wouldn’t have made it anyway). Luckily, we were only a half mile from the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, which was my backup plan and a lovely spot in its own right. It was very early in the season on Bearbones, with a relatively small number of species in bloom, but we had a successful and enjoyable 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 »

A Day Full of Surprises

Looking past the steep north side of the rock, you can see Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak in the distance.

Looking across the steep north side of Pyramid Rock, you can see Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak in the distance.

The proofs for the Flora of Oregon arrived from the printer last week, so I had to take some time off of botanizing to help read through the manuscript one more time and then make a bunch of changes. I had hoped to join some researchers who were visiting the sites in the Calapooyas where there were disjunct populations of Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana), normally found much farther north. Since I didn’t finish making corrections to the Flora until it was too late for their hikes, I decided to go back up to one of the sites, Pyramid Rock, where I had seen it in all its delicate beauty last year (see Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock). On my past trips, I had made it an overnight trip coming up from Steamboat because of the 25 miles of gravel required to get there from the north. But I didn’t have time to camp out, so I decided to just tough it out in one day. Unfortunately, all my usual hiking buddies were already occupied, so on on Friday, June 12, I headed up Coal Creek Road 2133 by myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas

It had been three years since I’d been up on Loletta Peak, and I’d been hankering to see the Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca) in bloom up there since I first discovered it on my first trip back in 2009—I didn’t write about it because, at the time, it was considered rare, and its locations were withheld. The road is on the north side of the Calapooya crest and is normally blocked with snow when these very early bloomers are peaking, so the lack of snow made this year seem like the perfect chance to give it a shot. On May 29, I was joined by John Koenig, who loves the Calapooya area as much as I do.

Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) are abundant on the summit slope of Loletta Peak.

Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) is abundant on the gravelly summit slope of Loletta Peak.

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Two Foggy Outings

I’m a fairweather hiker and usually avoid going out on days without a good amount of sun. But sometimes it happens. On both of my last two outings, I ended up spending most of the day literally in the clouds. I don’t take anywhere near the number of photos I usually do, but I thought I’d share a few.

Bristow Prairie, 5/15/15

Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork NF district botanist, and her dog Ruby and I made the same trip John Koenig and I had done a couple of weeks before (see Bristow Prairie: 2015 Trip 2), but the low clouds gave the area a distinctly different mood. From a scientific standpoint (not from one of comfort!), it was interesting to see how much moisture the plants received without any actual rain.

fog@BP051515063

Low clouds dancing around below the road at Bristow Prairie

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Bristow Prairie: 2015 Trip 2

Looking west along the front of the cliff. Compare this with the photo from last year.

Looking to the northwest along the front of the cliff. Compare this with the photo from last year. The seep is now damp and mossy. In the distance, 6000′ Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak can be seen with no snow on their south-facing sides. They usually don’t melt out for another 6–8 weeks.

One of my goals for the year is to track the botanical progression at Bristow Prairie by getting up there at least once a month, hopefully more. There’s such a broad variety of habitats, from cliffs to meadows to wetlands, that it should be an excellent site for observing the effects of the largely snowless winter on the different plants. So on April 27, John Koenig headed up to Bristow Prairie for my second trip of the year. While there had finally been some snow a week or so before, it was all melted again, and we only saw a few patches along the upper road and on nearby ridges. Our main destination was the lower, west-facing cliffs we first visited last fall (see First Trip to Cliffs Northwest of Bristow Prairie), so we started again at the north trailhead. Read the rest of this entry »

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