Posts Tagged ‘Hell’s Half Acre’

New Cryptantha at Eagle Creek Road Quarry

This old quarry may not look like much, but several plants that are scarce in Lane County grow here including the pretty pink Ageratina occidentalis starting to bloom in the center of the photo.

Yesterday (August 21), I sort of took the day off from exploring the Western Cascades to join Gerry Carr, Dick Halse, Stu Garrett, and Barbara Ertter for a trip up to Fuji Mountain. Barbara is a Potentilla expert from the Jepson Herbarium who lives in Idaho, and she wanted to see the rare Potentilla up there. While Fuji is a High Cascade peak, the upper trailhead is accessed from the same road as Hells Half Acre. I wanted to show everyone the interesting old quarry spot along Eagle Creek Road 5883 that Sabine and I had discovered after our last trip to Fuji Mountain in 2007 (see Unusual Botanical Spot on Eagle Creek Road), just up from the Hells Half Acre trailhead, so after our successful hike to Fuji, we made a stop on the way back. The Ageratina occidentalis was coming into bloom and the lovely Parnassia cirrata was just starting to open. The green-flowered alumroot (Heuchera chlorantha), so abundant along the road, was just about finished. I was also able to show Richard Halse, an expert with our rockcress, an Arabis/Boechera that I’d seen there before. Alas, it was too over the hill for him to identify. Read the rest of this entry »

Hell’s Half Acre Heaven for Butterflies

Yesterday (August 1), I headed up to Hells Half Acre for what was supposed to be a fairly relaxing day. I’d had good luck with butterflies in August there in the past and thought I might take it easy and just enjoy hanging out in the meadows and not doing any strenuous bushwhacking. Hah! Most of the forest plants such as bunchberry (Cornus unalaschkensis) and queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora) were on the wane. There were lots of ericaceous plants coming into bloom including Orthilia secunda and some very pretty Pyrola picta. One clump of indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) was just starting to push through the ground.

An elegant clodius parnassian nectaring on arrowleaf groundsel (Senecio triangularis)

Lots of things were still blooming in the lower meadow area, however. I was disappointed that there were no butterflies in the first two meadows (or sections of a larger meadow if you like), in spite of lingering Senecio triangularis and Valeriana sitchensis, two butterfly favorites. These meadows were quite overgrown with bracken and, as the trail is seldom used, had to be plowed through. The last meadow was a different story. It was much grassier, with very little bracken, and filled with fresh Alice’s fleabane (Erigeron aliceae) and pink owl-clover (Orthocarpus imbricatus). A number of blues were flitting about along with some checkerspots, mylitta crescents, a few parnassians, and at least one hydaspe fritillary. I spent a while trying to photograph them before heading up to Hell’s Half Acre, the much larger meadow at the end of the trail. I was joined by a very nice couple and their sweet dog Pepper who were unsure about where the trail was. For those going up there, the trail is really hard to follow in the meadows, and there is no sign where the trail picks up in the woods on the right-hand side just in front of an enormous noble fir. Read the rest of this entry »

Fritillaries at Hells Half Acre

Today Clay, Gail, John, and I went to check out Hells Half Acre. The way things have been going, my expectations weren’t very high. But after we saw 4 handsome bull elk on the road on the way up, I felt maybe my luck had changed. I was right. We had a terrific and productive day.

Fritillaria affinis

Fritillaria affinis with wide leaves and bell-shaped flower

First off, the trail is a go. No problem getting to the trailhead. There is still lots of snow in places on the lower parts of the trail. It is only along the edges of the lower meadows and there are lots of glacier lilies, Anemone lyallii, and also Dicentra uniflora, some still in bud. There should still be some snow melt species in 9 days under what is now snow. Lots of other things coming along as well. There is a very snowy area right after the lower meadows and it may be that the group will be split up and only some people go to the upper meadow. The other bad news is that it is very buggy in the woods, but it is fine out in the open meadows. I was there on June 9th in 2004 when the flowers were pretty similar but there was less snow (though still lots remaining in the one bad spot) and no bugs. I suspect this will be an unusual year in that respect as well.

Fritillaria atropurpurea

Fritillaria atropurpurea with narrow leaves and flaring flower

Only one tiny patch of snow was left in the upper meadow. The Dodecatheon jeffreyi, Ranunculus gormanii, and Mertensia paniculata were very pretty and there were lots of other nice things budding up. After we ate, John spotted some lovely Fritillaria affinis in bloom, a very nice addition to the list. Viola macloskeyi was another one I hadn’t seen there before. After admiring the grand show of shooting stars, we crossed to the west side of the meadow. Clay pointed out another Fritillary in bud. I immediately got excited because I was pretty sure it was Fritillaria atropurpurea, not affinis, and I’d never seen it nor heard of it in Lane County. We started searching for more and eventually found around 15 in bloom and another 20 or so in bud or just vegetative. It was REALLY hard to spot them in the grass. Clay and Gail were much better at it than I was. They were indeed F. atropurpurea, with smaller, more widely flaring flowers and extremely narrow, glaucous leaves. I’m thrilled. I’ve only seen it in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide and once along the Metolius. There are no records for it in Lane County on the OFP Atlas. We did not want to collect any.

For anyone wanting to check out the trail later, it looks like it will be a great beargrass year, there were many in bud, and later in the summer there is Parnassia cirrata and Kyhosia bolanderi to see.

Unusual Botanical Spot on Eagle Creek Road

It is easy to find the green flowered-alumroot (Heuchera chlorantha) along Eagle Creek Road.

Sabine and I had another exciting day in the field yesterday, checking on Fuji Mtn to see how it might be if we offer a hike there for next year’s NPSO Annual Meeting. Our major excitement was when we did some roadside botanizing on the way back from Fuji. We stopped to look at the oodles of white bog orchids in a ditch and discovered lots of other wonderful plants including a little Stenanthium and Parnassia. Just a little farther down the road at MP6, I was shocked to see hundreds of Heuchera chlorantha in bloom on the steep roadbank. I have it in the garden, but in all my wandering have never seen it in the wild. I noticed most of the Lane County sightings are from Bruce Newhouse. Loren Russell tells me he saws it long ago along the bottom of the road to Moon Point. I’ve gone up that road dozens of times, but I’ll look again. Read the rest of this entry »

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