Posts Tagged ‘Lookout Point Reservoir’

Roaming for Romanzoffia

Romanzoffia californica along North Shore Drive

Romanzoffia californica blooming profusely along North Shore Drive

Several days ago, I got a very informative letter about Romanzoffias (mistmaidens) from Vern Marttala. Vern is undoubtedly the expert on our Romanzoffia species and is the author of Romanzoffia thompsonii, our only annual species and a Western Cascade endemic. The letter was in response to a conversation we had after I gave a talk on plant adaptations to the Portland chapter of NPSO the previous week. Along with some excellent information and keys to Romanzoffia, Vern included some of his best sites from my neck of the woods in Lane County. While the recent cold weather seems to have passed, the snow is not quite gone from the lower mountains, so on April 18, I decided this would be a perfect day to check out Vern’s roadside sites around Lookout Point Reservoir, between Lowell and Westfir, just up the road from my house.

Romanzoffia sitchensis

Romanzoffia sitchensis by Fern Creek

Heading east of Lowell on Hwy 58, the first spot I came to was the most intriguing to me. Just past milepost 19 is a pulloff at the bottom of Fern Creek. From the road, it doesn’t look like much: a pile of rocks and lots of blackberries. If anyone else had told me there was a population of Romanzoffia sitchensis there, I would not have believed them. I usually see it at much higher elevations in cool, damp, north-facing rocky areas. The only place I’ve seen it in Lane County is below Fuji Mountain in the High Cascades. Well, there in the woods, hiding behind the weeds (awful Geranium lucidum as well as blackberries), was a waterfall, and on the mossy cliffs beside it was a large population of R. sitchensis. Even through the binoculars, I recognized it by the large leaves—even larger than I’ve seen at higher elevations. The walking was quite treacherous, as there were many large rocks covered with wet moss and half hidden by branches of blackberries and salmonberries. How Vern ever found this site, I have no idea! The main population is high up on the west side of the creek. Luckily, there were a few plants in the rocks on the east side, so I was able to study them up close. It was easy to see the hairs on the stems I’d seen in other populations and the wide-open, saucer shape of the flowers Vern mentioned. The base of the plant is also an important feature, and on these plants the bases were mostly exposed, making it easy to see the loose bulb formed by the overlapping widened ends of the basal petioles. Read the rest of this entry »

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