Posts Tagged ‘Gentiana’

Back to Warner Mountain Bog

Gentians blooming in the main bog.

Alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) is already in seed by the time the flowers of the late-blooming gentians appear.

Having just discovered explorer’s gentians (Gentiana calycosa) on Warner Mountain (see previous post, Hidden Bog on Warner Mountain), my top priority was to get back to see them in full bloom. I contacted Molly Juillerat, botanist and Middle Fork District ranger, to see if she wanted to come. Luckily, she was free the following weekend. I figured that was enough time for the display to be worth the trip. As it turns out, a couple of other friends, Nancy and Keiko, were already planning to head up to that area as well. So we agreed to all drive up separately and meet by the lookout on August 2. Keiko brought her husband, Daniel, and Molly brought her faithful dog, Ruby. After checking out an interesting rocky spot a short way off the road that I’d noticed on Google Earth (not too many flowers but pikas under the rock pile!), we stopped to have lunch by the lookout. Sadly, the Cascade lilies were pretty much done—I was really fortunate to have seen them the week before. Then we headed over to the bog. Read the rest of this entry »

Hidden Bog on Warner Mountain

What a gorgeous sight! And smell! I had to stop and smell almost every Cascade lily I passed on my way to and from the Warner Lookout.

With the gravel roads lapsing into disrepair the last few years, I hadn’t managed to make it to Groundhog Mountain, one of my very favorite places in the Western Cascades, in three years (see Butterflies and More at Groundhog Mountain), and my friend John had driven on that trip. It was past time to return. While the butterfly group (NABA) has been heading up there lately via Road 2135, I decided to take a slightly longer route up 2129 past Moon Point and the Warner Mountain lookout. That way, if there were downed trees or washouts I didn’t want to cross, I could do the Moon Point trail instead. And I was pretty sure the road would be clear to the lookout since it is used during fire season. The night before I left, I pulled out my iPhone to get the aerial image of the area saved in case I wanted to do any exploring. Just off the road near the beargrass meadows up on Warner Mountain, I noticed what appeared to be a wetland. The telltale dark squiggles of meandering water is a good indication. Hmm. If I didn’t make it to Groundhog, I would have to check this out. It was only about an acre, but you never know what might be there. Read the rest of this entry »

Pigeon Prairie Painted with Purple

A stunning spread of gentians in a secluded portion of Pigeon Prairie I hadn't seen before

A stunning spread of gentians in a secluded portion of Pigeon Prairie I hadn’t seen before

I spent some time attempting to photograph bees as they pushed their way into the gentian flowers. You have to be really quick!

I spent some time attempting to photograph bees as they pushed their way into the gentian flowers. You have to be really quick!

It had only been two years since my last trip to Pigeon Prairie and Little Pigeon Prairie (see Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies), but John Koenig had never been there, and after seeing the gorgeous explorers gentian (Gentiana calycosa) on our trip to Bradley Lake the previous week (see Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake), I was anxious to see more gentians. There’s a great show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum) at both prairies, so on August 10, we made the long drive north to Marion County to spend a lovely day exploring Pigeon Prairie with a short stop at Parish Lake Bog on the way home since John hadn’t been there either. Nothing much new to report except that we saw lots of rough-winged swallows and more cedar waxwings chowing down on a huge gathering of some kind of insect (cranefly?) bouncing around above the surface of Parish Lake. Still, I thought people might enjoy some photos of the gorgeous gentians at Pigeon Prairie. Even non-flower lovers would probably take pause at these statuesque purple beauties! Read the rest of this entry »

Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake

Sliver Rock and Crater Lake forest fire

After we crossed over the crest of the Calapooyas, we had a great view to the south of Sliver Rock in the foreground just in front of Balm Mountain and Mount Bailey in the distance. We could also see the smoke spewing from the forest fire at Crater Lake. Most of the foreground is in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, parts of which burned in fires in 1996 and 2008.

After our terrific trip to Balm Mountain (see Another Beautiful Day on Balm Mountain), I really wanted to do some more exploring in the area, so I suggested to John Koenig that we check out the lower part of the south end of Balm. My idea was to go down Road 3810 to where it deadends at the Skipper Lakes trailhead, head up the trail to the small lakes, which I’d only been to once, and climb uphill to look at the rocks below where we’d ended up on our previous trip along the ridge. The roads have been quite iffy in the Calapooyas this year, but our friend Rob Castleberry had been at Balm right after us and had done part of Road 3810, so I had high hopes we might be successful. We headed up there August 4. Alas, we only made it a short ways farther than where Rob had been when we came upon several trees blocking the road. Not again! This has been a frustrating year for road conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

More Discoveries along the Calapooya Crest

Cascade gras-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Ever since our early June trip to the meadow along Road 3810 on the south side of Loletta Peak (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel), John Koenig and I had been planning to return to see the later blooming plants, especially the Cascade fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) that we found there. Just before we had planned to go, Ed Alverson e-mailed me about the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) we had discovered there. He’s been studying the scattered populations on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. The timing was perfect, as we were able to take Ed along on August 12 to see the population in what we were now calling “Aspen Meadow.” We had been somewhat concerned with all the fires down in Douglas County, especially the Potter Mountain complex burning just east of Balm Mountain (thankfully not actually on Potter Mountain). But other than some drifting smoke above, we had no problems reaching our destination and enjoying what was an otherwise lovely day. Read the rest of this entry »

Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies

Ever since Sabine and I accompanied Jenny Lippert to Little Pigeon Prairie in early July (see The Search for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum), I had been wanting to get back there to explore the main wetland at Pigeon Prairie, which we didn’t have time for that day. It had been five years since I’d been there and seen an amazing show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum). I also wanted to check on the seeds of the blue-eyed grass we had seen, in case that would help with deciding if it was the rare Sisyrinchium sarmentosum or the common S. idahoense. It’s a long drive for me to get there—just south of Detroit—but since the heat has been sapping my energy, I didn’t want to do anything that required any climbing, so a flat wetland seemed like a good idea, and I headed up there last week on July 30.

King's gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

King’s gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

As it turned out, I had to do quite a bit of bushwhacking—there are no trails in this area—and walking around a wetland of tall sedges and standing water can be tricky, so it wasn’t as relaxing as I’d hoped. But I’m so glad I made the trip. When I arrived at Little Pigeon Prairie, which is only a thin strip of trees away from Road 620 (off of McCoy Road 2233), I was almost immediately greeted by the tall purply-blue wands of Gentiana sceptrum in perfect bloom. Sometimes I feel as though I spend so much time exploring new spots or looking for rarities or particular plants I’m studying or need to photograph that I miss out on the big shows of wildflowers that most people are seeking out. I could have gone to some alpine meadow at peak bloom, but here I was going to a fairly low elevation (3600′), sedge-covered, boggy area well past “peak” season. But even if the gentians were the only flowers left in bloom, it still would have been worth it, as there are few plants as glorious as a large-flowered gentian, and meadows full of this regal species are as spectacular as anything else I could have imagined seeing that day in the Cascades. Read the rest of this entry »

Big Surprises at Fish Creek Valley

I’d been looking forward to going to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide all year, but I just couldn’t seem to squeeze a camping trip down there into my schedule earlier in the summer. Then, in late July, the Whiskey Complex fire erupted east of Tiller, just 9 miles west of Donegan Prairie, one of my planned destinations. So much for that. But last week I was lying awake in the middle of the night, my mind wandering all over the place as it often does in the wee hours, and I thought, to hell with worrying about the smoke, I’ll just go to the north end of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. Fish Creek Valley is one of my favorite places, and there are lots of late-blooming flowers to make a trip in August worthwhile. Unlike many ideas born in the middle of the night, this one still seemed realistic in the morning, so a couple of days later, I packed up my van and headed south.

Rattlesnake Mountain looms right above Fish Creek Valley. The smoke in the air makes it seem much farther away.

Rattlesnake Mountain looms right above Fish Creek Valley. The smoke in the air makes it seem much farther away.

Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn at Lowder Mountain

Summer is definitely over. The vine maples are turning on a distant talus slope, and new snow has fallen on South Sister.

Thursday (October 13) was supposed to be a nice day, so Sabine and Nancy and I headed east to the mountains. I was hoping to collect a few Gentiana calycosa seeds to go along with the samples I’m going to send to the gentian researchers (see Singing the Blues at Tidbits for more about this project) and any other good rock plants that might be in seed. I decided I’d rather do the longer but less steep to Lowder Mountain instead of nearby Horsepasture Mountain where they also grow. The promised sun didn’t materialize, and there were even a few drops of rain, but it was still a pleasant and successful trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Singing the Blues at Tidbits

Explorer’s gentian (Gentiana calycosa) growing out of a crack in the rock face at the base of the “east Tidbit”. Seeing this same plant well over a decade ago was what first made me wonder if these rock-loving gentians were really the same species as those that grow in wetlands in the High Cascades and elsewhere in the West.

On Friday (September 23), Nancy Bray, Ingrid Ford and her adorable dog Bogy, and I headed up to Tidbits to see the gentians. I had planned to get up there early in the season to see the many great plants that grow on the massive rock formations, but there are just too many places to visit. But although it was actually the first day of fall, there are still a few things to see. Thank goodness for the gorgeous gentians. They are somewhat like dessert after a great meal, saving the best for last, the final sweet treat that lingers with you and tides you over until the next flower season. There are not very many species of Gentiana in the Cascades, and they are never terribly common. Tidbits is one of the few places in the Western Cascades with a good show of gentians, so it is always worth a late-season trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Last Wave of Flowers at Lowder Mountain

A gorgeous hoary comma nectaring on a coneflower (Rudbeckia occidentalis).

A single explorer’s gentian (Gentiana calycosa) blooms near the trail where it can be studied close at hand.

Earlier this week (August 18), Sabine Dutoit, Andrew Mylko, and I went to see what was left at Lowder Mountain and take a quick look at Quaking Aspen Swamp. I was actually surprised at how far along things were at Lowder, no doubt the recent hot days pushed a few more plants over the edge. There were still a number of ericaceous woodland plants in good bloom, including Pyrola picta and Chimaphila umbellata. At the small wetland that empties into Quaking Aspen Swamp, Kyhosia bolanderi and Parnassia cirrata were in bloom along with some early Stachys cooleyae. These were down in QAS as well. Lowder Mountain is a great place for butterflies earlier in the season, but they seemed to be disappearing along with the flowers.

My favorite spot at Lowder is the rocky ridge the trail passes by partway up. This is where some of the uncommon rock-loving plants occur, especially on the small north-facing cliff side. Not surprisingly, most everything is finished here so long after the moisture has disappeared. Seeds were ripe on Castilleja rupicola, Eremogone pumicola, Silene douglasii, and Lomatium hallii, and already gone from the early-blooming Phlox diffusa. But there are two special plants here that are just peaking now: Gentiana calycosa and Campanula rotundifolia. Both inhabit the north side of the ridge and are quite difficult to access for closeups. The Campanula especially is way down the cliff. I didn’t see it here for years. Binoculars are a must here and even more so on the upper cliffs below the summit. Read the rest of this entry »

Post Categories
Archives
Notification of New Posts