Posts Tagged ‘Mertensia’

Mistmaiden Meadow Pretty as a Picture

The rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) was kicking in but not quite at peak bloom yet. There was also lots of slender cryptantha (Cryptantha affinis) and coastal manroot (Marah oreganus). The great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) had just barely started.

Shooting stars have downward-pointing flowers with reflexed petals in order to accommodate buzz pollination by bumblebees. There were lots of bumblebees taking advantage of the abundance of beautiful shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) throughout the meadow. I was disappointed by the relative lack of butterflies but happy to see some pollinators.

On June 7, I took my husband, Jim, to see “Mistmaiden Meadow” on the west edge of Sourgrass Mountain. Although he’s not particularly interested in plants, we both feel safer if he’s familiar with all the places I visit regularly, in case he ever does have to come to my rescue. There are nice rocks and a view, and it was a lovely day to get out. If he’d stayed home, he would have spent the day doing chores like wood-splitting, so at least it was a nice change of pace.

The slope was still quite moist and lush with lots of colorful flowers. We’d missed the very earliest bloom, but there was still lots of the sweet Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii) that I named the site after. The very similar Nuttall’s saxifrage (Cascadia nuttallii) was just starting but will soon take over the seepy slopes. It is worth visiting this lovely and quiet spot multiple spots during the flowering season. I was able to confirm my mystery cherry from my last trip last year (see Late Season at Mistmaiden Meadow) as choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) and added four other new species to my growing plant list for the site, so it felt successful as well as relaxing. Here are some pretty pictures of our very pleasant day. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflying on Coal Creek Road

We couldn’t go up Coal Creek Road without checking out the amazing spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium) patch just past the 4-way intersection at the top of the crest (43.3998°N, -122.4561°W). We delighted in the abundance of butterflies and the intoxicating fragrance of the flowers. While most of the visitors were checkerspots, we also saw some fritillaries, parnassians, coppers, and all three of our “ladies,” including this American lady.

Julia’s orangetips rarely sit still long enough to photograph them, so I was really pleased to capture this lovely male who was making the rounds of the tall bluebells (Mertensia paniculata) growing in the roadside ditches.

Coal Creek Road 2133 which leads up to the west end of the Calapooyas is one of my favorite places to do roadside botanizing and butterflying. It’s also one of John Koenig’s, so on July 13, we drove up there for an easy day as John was still recovering from some foot issues and wasn’t up to a real hike. It was warm, but there was still enough moisture in the many seeps and creeks along the road to nourish the flowers, which in turn attracted lots of butterflies. Here are some photographic highlights.

We scared up a family of grouse along the road. The cute babies all flew up into the trees.

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Relaxing Day at Elk Camp Shelter

It was peak season for the common camas (Camassia quamash) at Elk Camp.

Gina especially loved the old-growth forest near the Elk Camp Shelter. As we walked along the trail past the shelter, we were surprised to see someone just waking up after having arrived there on his bike very late at night. I don’t think he was expecting to see us either. The trail past the shelter is part of the much longer Alpine Trail that passes through Tire Mountain and is very popular with mountain bikers.

I’d much rather see flowers than fireworks on the 4th of July, so my neighbor Gina and I went up to see wetlands up at Elk Camp Shelter, Nevergo Meadow, and Saddleblanket Mountain, all no more than 15 miles away as the crow flies from where we live in Fall Creek. It was a pleasantly cool day, but the clouds mostly disappeared as the day went on. Although we did see several hikers and bicyclists—a first for me in that area—it was quiet and peaceful. That’s just the way I like my holidays!

One of the plants I had hoped to see in the Elk Camp meadow was Nevada lewisia (Lewisia nevadensis). Sabine Dutoit had discovered it there a number of years ago when I led a trip for the Native Plant Society (see NPSO Trip to Nevergo Meadow and Elk Camp). Luckily, I timed it right, and some of them were in bloom. I saw several between the trail and large willow thicket, where Sabine originally spotted them, and several more as I wrapped around the edge of the wetland to the bit of meadow that is hidden from the trail. Though there aren’t very many (although there could be more than I think as they are very hard to spot out of bloom), that’s where I had seen the largest number of them in the past. That’s also where most of the population of the rare endemic Umpqua frasera (Frasera umpquaensis), but there were no signs of buds or flowers on them. I”m not sure if they will bloom at all this year as they bloom only periodically. The Nevada lewisia and its frequent companion threeleaf lewisia (L. triphylla) seem to prefer more or less bare ground in moist meadows. I headed farther south along the edge of the wetland to look for more bare ground. I was rewarded with another patch of Nevada lewisia. The odd thing was that these had much smaller flowers—about the size of the threeleaf lewisia near them. I had never noticed this before, but then I rarely see open flowers because they seem to close up on warm afternoons (as does the threeleaf lewisia). With the partly cloudy day, some were still open. Read the rest of this entry »

Collecting Foray at Hills Peak

The folks from the herbarium collecting specimens in the wetland near the lake

Suksdorf’s paintbrush can be recognized by the yellow and green below the red on the bracts and its prediliction for wetlands.

At long last—after a year’s delay because of the pandemic—it was time for the Burke Herbarium’s 25th annual collecting foray. On June 24th, I headed down Road 21 to Sacandaga Campground to meet the participants, including Dick Olmstead and David Giblin who organize the forays every year, several volunteers, and five UW students. Also there were John Koenig and James Mickley, the new head of the OSU Herbarium. None of the Washington folks, nor James, had ever been to the Calapooyas, so John and I were really looking forward to introducing them to our favorite spots.

On Friday morning (June 25th), we split into three groups. John went up to Bristow Prairie, David and James took a group to Potter Mountain, and I went with Dick Olmstead and his wife Sheila and dog Lolly, Scott, a volunteer, and Ava, a student, to Hills Peak. We were also joined for the day by Gail Baker, a friend and fellow local NPSO member. Read the rest of this entry »

Bristow Prairie Bursting into Bloom

tall bluebells (Mertensia paniculata) growing along the road

On Thursday, June 7, I had planned to check out another unexplored meadow in the Rigdon area that looks like a potential spot for purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia). Sheila Klest accompanied me. Neither Sheila nor I had slept well the night before, and as we drove by the road which accessed the meadow, we could see it was bermed off. While I had anticipated that we might have to walk the 1.5 miles or so down the road, at that moment, it was the just the deterrent I needed to say, “Let’s forget about it for now and head up to Bristow Prairie!” which was only a few miles drive farther up the main Road 2125. We never regretted the decision. After weeks of looking at drying out low-elevation meadows, it was so refreshing and relaxing being up in lush, freshly blooming, high elevations of the Calapooya Mountains. While we didn’t find anything new and exciting, it was just what we both needed. Here are some photographic highlights.

We’d never seen so many larkspur (Delphinium menziesii). Here they were in the rock garden area, but they were just as abundant in the meadows.

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Back to Back Trips to Horsepasture and Lowder Mountains

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

It’s been a busy week, so I’m just going to post some photos from my last two trips. On Wednesday, June 22, I went up to Horsepasture Mountain with Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, to scout for an upcoming trip that she’ll be leading during the Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting in a few weeks. Then on Sunday, June 26, I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for Oregon Wild with Chandra LeGue, their Western Oregon Field Coordinator, and six other hikers interested in learning some Cascade wildflowers. Both trails are in the Willamette National Forest McKenzie District. The flowers on both mountains are still great, but we are definitely a few weeks earlier than “normal”, and things are moving along fast. Read the rest of this entry »

More Exploring on Road 5884

Mt. David Douglas and Fuji Mountain to the north

From part way up on the slope, there’s a good view to the north of Mt. David Douglas on the left and the gentle south side of Fuji Mountain on the right.

A small bee visiting swamp currant

A small bee visiting the equally small flowers of swamp currant (Ribes lacustre).

Last year, John Koenig, Sabine Dutoit, and I spent a great day at Lopez Lake and other interesting spots near the end of Road 5884 (see Glorious Day Near Lopez Lake), east of southeast of Oakridge. I went a short ways up the talus slope at the terminus of the road, but that only whetted my appetite to get close enough to the cliffs at the top and left sides of the slope to see what grew on them. So that was my main goal last Sunday, June 7.

It was a very warm day, so I headed to the cliff first. Rather than plowing through the large alder thicket and walking up the large boulders in the middle like I did last year, I decided to follow a small creek at the left edge, hoping to get to the north-facing cliffs along the side. No doubt this area was an old quarry, and it left a sharp cliff below the forest on that side of the slope and some flatter areas on the way up. This turned out to be a very good way to get started, as I avoided the majority of the alders. I also saw some beautiful, perfectly blooming stink currant (Ribes bracteosum) and other wetland plants. There was obviously quite a bit of moisture coming down from above, and one of the interesting things about the area was how many plants there were on this rocky slope that one would expect to see in a wetland or a forest. Many clumps of tall bluebells (Mertensia paniculata) were in bloom almost all the way up the 300′ slope. The moisture-loving swamp gooseberry (Ribes lacustre) also grew among the rocks as well as at the edges of the wetlands I visited later in the day. On the somewhat more level section about halfway up, there was a gorgeous display of false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum) and another “woodland” plant, red baneberry (Actaea rubra). This also seemed like a strange place to see so much Fendler’s waterleaf (Hydrophyllum fendleri) and Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis).

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Wetland Bloom Starts with a Bang Near Elk Camp Shelter

Marsh marigold

Marsh marigold (Clatha leptosepala) and skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) put on a great show in a wetland at the corner of Roads 142 and 226.

Our Native Plant Society chapter meeting was Monday night (May 20), but according to the forecast (and for once they were right!), it was also the only dry, sunny day of the week. That left me in a quandary about where to go—or if I should try to go anywhere at all. On top of that, I had a terrible night’s sleep, so I was already pretty tired. But as I lay awake at 4 am, I got the great idea to drive out Road 18 along Fall Creek and see if I could get up to Elk Camp Shelter. If I couldn’t get there, I could always walk along the Fall Creek trail. Either way, I wouldn’t be too far from home and could get back in plenty of time to drive into Eugene for the evening meeting.

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First Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows

Claytonia lanceolata and Erythronium grandiflorum bloom quickly after the snow melts before the taller plants can overtop them.

There’s something so exciting about being in the mountains when the first plants are emerging. Grasshopper Meadows is just bursting out with the first flowers after the snow has disappeared. Yesterday (June 14), Sabine and I had the privilege of witnessing its yearly rebirth. Just over a week ago, I caught a glimpse of Grasshopper Meadows as I crossed the bridge in Oakridge, and the upper half of the giant meadow was still white with snow. Now the snow is completely gone and has been replaced by thousands of western springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata) and glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). They are especially abundant along the upper edge of the meadow where the snow lingers the longest, but they can be seen within minutes of the trailhead. Other snowmelt species can be seen as well. In the lower meadows, turkey peas (Orogenia fusiformis) is blooming, and while the leaves of steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) are present in many places throughout the meadow, the only fresh blossoms remaining are along the ridge.

Fresh steer's head (Dicentra uniflora) flowers

Fresh steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) flowers

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