Posts Tagged ‘Lomatium’

Deer Creek Road Awash in Gold

There weren’t as many butterflies as I would have expected on a warm, sunny day, but then most of the blooming flowers like monkey flowers weren’t good for nectaring butterflies. I did watch this California tortoiseshell visiting a number of the abundant rustyhair saxifrage (Micranthes rufidula). This surprised me because I rarely see tortioseshells nectaring at all, and I can’t remember seeing any butterflies on the saxifrage even though it seems like a good plant for a butterfly with lots of easily accessed small flowers.

On April 19, I spent a relaxing day looking at early blooming, low-elevation flowers along Deer Creek Road 2654 off the McKenzie Highway. The mile or two west of Fritz Creek is a wonderful place to see moisture-loving plants along the road as long as there is still moisture. Sweeps of various shades of yellow covered the road banks, including gold stars (Crocidium multicaule), seep monkeyflower (which used to be Mimulus guttatus but I’m pretty sure is now Erythranthe microphylla as E. guttata was kept for the larger perennial), chickweed monkeyflower (E. alsinoides), and Hall’s lomatium (Lomatium hallii). I didn’t check out the hidden meadows above the road, which peak a little later in spring—plus I was feeling too lazy for the steep climb.

I had heard that last year’s Lookout Fire had burned across Deer Creek, so I was concerned about possible damage along the road and up in the hidden meadows on the north side of Deer Creek. There was some evidence of burning on the ridge above the side south of Deer Creek as well as a little on the drive in, but I was relieved to see the north side—at least the low elevations—got spared. The fire probably jumped the creek higher up.

Here are some photographic highlights.

The first bank I came to was covered with gold stars. My timing was perfect as they were mostly in full bloom, but there were enough going to seed for me to collect plenty for my property. They’re still not really getting established at home, so I have to add more seed every year if I want to see their cheery flowers at home in early spring.

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NPSO Annual Meeting Trip to Tire Mountain

Mark Turner never goes anywhere without all his photography gear, and he was determined to get us all to pose for a group photo by the beautiful display of deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea)—the classic photo op at Tire Mountain. We grumbled a little, but everyone dutifully stopped, and another helpful hiker ended up taking some pictures of all of us, including Mark.

The west end of the main “dike” meadow had a very good display of Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii). Among them were an unusual number of white- and pale purple-flowered plants.

On the last day of the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s 2023 Annual Meeting, I took a group of plant lovers to Tire Mountain. It had been a couple of weeks since Molly Juillerat and I did our prehike (see Early Season at Tire Mountain), and it was even drier than on that trip. But I was relieved to see how many perennials were just carrying on as usual, so there was still plenty to see—even if the trail wasn’t up to its usual June splendor. While the rest of the Sunday trips for the meeting were supposed to be only half day, everyone was warned this would be a longer day and could leave early if they needed to. But the weather was just perfect for hiking, and everyone was having such an enjoyable day of botanizing that we all returned to the trailhead together. Thanks to all the participants for being such troopers! And thanks to Willow Elliot and Angela Soto for getting everyone organized in Eugene before meeting me in Lowell. Here are a few highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Look at Meadow on Sourgrass Mountain

Thompson’s mistmaiden was abundant on the seepy parts of the slope (which is most of it!).

I was surprised to find this checkerspot caterpillar wandering around some wholeleaf saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia), which is definitely not a host food plant. Neither is Thompson’s mistmaiden, the little flowers popping up among the saxifrage leaves. There must have been some paintbrush nearby.

My last report of 2022 was about two late-season trips to hidden meadows in the area near Saddleblanket and Sourgrass mountains (see Exploring Two New Meadows). I was really excited about getting to see the meadows in bloom this year, especially the large one off of Road 140 on the west flank of Sourgrass Mountain. Having already been to nearby Tire Mountain (see Early Season at Tire Mountain), I had seen the lush green meadow from the north side of the ridge, and I knew the road was clear to Windy Pass. On May 30, Nancy Bray accompanied me, hoping for a first look at the early spring flowers in the big meadow. We had also planned to try to get to the other meadow and nearby Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow, just a few more miles to the north, but we were stopped by a single patch of snow blocking Road 140. Luckily, we were only half a mile from the first meadow, so we walked the rest of the way up the road, which was clear of snow except in some ditches. There were still some glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) and fresh western trilliums (Trillium ovatum) in the freshly melted-out ditches and road banks on our way up. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Season at Tire Mountain

Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) is one of the treats for those who do early botanizing in rocky areas. The yellow flowers of spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum) were just starting to appear.

My first caterpillars of the year! These two checkerspot caterpillars have overwintered as small caterpillars, so they may have woken up recently. Between the spines and the distasteful iridoid glycosides in the harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), they are well protected from predators and can relax in the open.

Both Molly Juillerat and I are leading trips to Tire Mountain during the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s annual meeting next week, so on May 20, we headed up there together to see if the road and trail were open and how the plants were looking. The cold, wet April slowed spring down, but the hot and dry May weather that followed created an odd combination of the flowers barely having started, while the moss was already dried out. The typically great show of annuals, including seep monkeyflower (Erythranthe microphylla), large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora), rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta), and bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata) will probably be disappointing, but hopefully the deep roots of many of the perennials like deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) and the four different species of lomatium (L. hallii, utriculatum, nudicaule, and dissectum) will still be tapping April moisture for a while. And, of course, we are still praying for rain in June before the actual summer drought starts! Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Lower Meadows of Youngs Rock

Looking south to Calapooya Mountains from the large (and steep!) lower meadow, you can see snow still along the crest. The large white area to right end is Bristow Prairie. While I love seeing snow lingering at the end of May, I hope it will have melted by the time I have to lead a hike there later in the month.

As I drove along the reservoir in the morning, a large butterfly caught my eye, so I pulled over immediately and waited for it to return. The gorgeous tiger swallowtail rewarded me by landing and sitting perfectly still on a stunning lupine. Calendar shot for sure!

Since there is still some snow at higher elevations, and the rain is fueling great flowers down low, on May 31, I decided to head to the large lower meadow off the Youngs Rock trail. I went down there twice back in 2016 (see Exploring Meadows Below Youngs Rock) but hadn’t returned since. After my usual stops along Hills Creek Reservoir to see the gorgeous paintbrush (Castilleja hispida and possibly pruinosa), I stopped at the bathroom by the bridge and noticed a lot of activity under the bridge. When Nancy and I stopped there the week before (see Spring Again at Coal Creek Bluff), I was surprised at the absence of swallows since we had seen some tree swallows along the cliffs. But on this trip, there were numerous swallows, some tree swallows but mostly cliff swallows. You can recognize cliff swallows by their buffy back and the creamy spot on their head and nape. Both tree and cliff swallows have a much shorter tail than barn swallows. They appeared to be rebuilding their nests under the north side of the bridge. Or maybe they start new ones every year, I don’t know. I guess there’s not enough room left in my brain to learn about birds after studying plants and butterflies so much! I spent a while watching them and listening to their unusually squeaky chattering—definitely different from the tree swallows that live in my meadow. Read the rest of this entry »

A Seepy Spring at Deer Creek

About the only thing blooming well in the large middle meadow was the gold stars sprinkled across the rocks. Snow can be seen on Carpenter Mountain not so far away.

One of the numerous places water cascades down the road banks between the 3 and 4 mile markers on Deer Creek Road.

I’m thrilled that the last month or so has been so cold and damp. It’s been much less stressful than last year’s hot and dry spring. But it has meant that I haven’t gone out botanizing much. Deer Creek Road off the McKenzie Highway is a wonderful place to go when all the small creeks and seeps are flowing off the road banks. And above the road banks, there are a number of rocky meadows above the road west of Fritz Creek. So when we had a break in the rain last Wednesday, May 4, I decided to go check it out.

I had planned to stop at Cougar Reservoir first, to see what was blooming on the cliffs along the reservoir, but the road was closed well before the cliffs. That section north of the reservoir burned in the Holiday Farm Fire two years ago, so they were undoubtedly logging the dead trees along the road. That meant I had a lot more time to spend at Deer Creek Road, so instead of a relaxing walk along the road, it seemed like a good time to climb up to the big meadows above the road, something I hadn’t done since 2017 (see A Return Look at Deer Creek Meadows). Read the rest of this entry »

First Trip of the Season to Bristow Prairie

While the rock garden area wasn’t quite as floriferous as usual, the east end had a lovely display of Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), and there were barestem lomatium in bloom everywhere.

The naked stem hawkweed (Crepis pleurocarpa) grows right in the middle of the trail.

On June 4, John Koenig and I went to Bristow Prairie in the Calapooyas. It was our first trip of the year here, but we’re planning to show this area to some folks from the Burke Herbarium in Washington in a few weeks, so we’ll be back soon.

We started our day by hiking the trail from the north trailhead (once we found it—the trail sign is now smashed under a fallen tree!). We were hoping to catch the early flowers, and there were still a few patches of snow in the road ditch, but the warm dry spring had already moved the rock garden area along. There were no exciting discoveries this trip, and there were surprisingly few butterflies or other insects for such a sunny day, but I thought I’d share some photos. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

High Season at Lowder Mountain

The rock garden along the ridge in all its peak-season glory: bright purple small-flowered penstemon (Penstemon procerus), pink cliff penstemon (P. rupicola), yellow western groundsel (Senecio integerrimus), and white Calochortus

These small bees seemed to be particularly interested in the abundant fern-leaved lomatium (Lomatium dissectum).

On July 6, I spent the day on Lowder Mountain. I’d heard that Road 1993 was in good shape (It’s one of the few reliably well-kept roads these days), and I hadn’t been there since I led a hike there when our Native Plant Society chapter hosted our Annual Meeting back in 2016 (see Back to Back Trips to Horsepasture and Lowder Mountains). I drove east under overcast skies but thankfully broke out into full sun on my drive up to the mountain. It was gorgeous all day until around 5pm when the clouds took over again, so I really lucked out. The flowers were beautiful, and I pretty much had the whole mountain to myself. And although I was once again disappointed by the paucity of butterflies, there were oodles of bees to keep me amused. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Watching Bees and Butterflies at Medicine Creek Road

Sadly not a monarch but a worn California tortoiseshell on purple milkweed.

On Memorial Day, May 25, I made the long drive down to the North Umpqua to check out the population of purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) along Medicine Creek Road 4775. I was a little disappointed to find it was just starting to open. I think the cool weather of late had slowed things down because Big Pine Opening was at about the same stage weeks ago, and although it is lower elevation, it is also much farther north. But although the milkweed wasn’t attracting many insects, there were plenty of plants that were.

A silver-spotted skipper was one of many insects nectaring on silverleaf phacelia.

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