Posts Tagged ‘Orobanche’

Attack of the Orobanche

Hundreds of little Orobanche uniflora on the mossy cliff ledges

Dozens of little Orobanche uniflora on the mossy cliff ledges

Orobanche uniflora

Since Orobanche uniflora is parasitic, it has no leaves, just these pretty purple tubular flowers.

The genus Orobanche, known as broomrape, is made up of numerous species that parasitize other plants. With vampires and zombies all the rage these days, these plants ought to be more popular. I find them (broomrapes that is, not zombies) really fascinating and am always pleased to find them. I’m not sure if the other plants feel the same, but they don’t look as though they are being harmed by supporting their parasites. Different species of Orobanche use different hosts; some are very picky, while others have broader tastes. Orobanche uniflora is one of those with a number of potential hosts. With the common name of naked broomrape, you’d hardly think it would be such a pretty thing. It is also called one-flowered broomrape since it has only one flower per pedicel.

Probably the best place I’ve ever seen Orobanche uniflora is at Cougar Reservoir, just south of the McKenzie Highway. That was the my destination Tuesday, April 21, along with my friends Sabine Dutoit and Nancy Bray. All of us have been nursing injuries, so easy roadside botanizing was just what we were looking for. The flowers are fabulous in April along the roadside cliffs along the west side of the reservoir. There is more rustyhair saxifrage (Micranthes rufidula) and California mistmaiden (Romanzoffia californica) there than I’ve seen anywhere else. The saxifrage was on the wane, but the mistmaiden was gorgeous. Both these species are hosts for naked broomrape, so, not so coincidentally, Cougar Reservoir is also a haven for this species. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bristow Prairie Area Continues to Yield More Discoveries

CASPRUPENDEU@BP061114210

Frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa) and hotrock penstemon (Penstemon deustus) up on the rocky bald.

After finally spotting the hidden north trailhead last summer (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John Koenig and I returned last fall to do the northern end of the High Divide trail that crosses Bristow Prairie. We discovered an awesome pillar rock, moist forest, and more meadows, so it was definitely worth a return trip. On Wednesday (June 11), Sabine Dutoit and I decided to head up there and see what the area looks like in flower. We still had trouble finding the trailhead, as although John and I had found the trail sign in the ditch and put it back up on the road, it was moved yet again. Luckily, I had made a GPS waypoint last year. Once we found the trailhead, just a tad up the road from a quarry and pillar rock I had checked out a few years ago, we could see the sign had been placed on the ground next to the trail, just up into the woods—not much good for spotting the trail from the road, but at least we knew we were in the right place! Read the rest of this entry »

Photographing Special Plants in Southeastern Lane County

This pretty hedgerow hairstreak was nectaring on cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), not usually a big favorite with butterflies around here.

Many of you know Gerry Carr’s fabulous plant photos that he donates to the Oregon Flora Project Gallery, the WTU Image Collection (the Burke Herbarium’s gallery of Washington plants), and posts on his own site, Oregon Flora Image Project. If you don’t, be sure to click on the links! Trying to photograph almost every species in Oregon is a huge undertaking, and I’ve enjoyed helping Gerry find plants in the Western Cascades that he hasn’t photographed yet. Several species still on his to do list grow in the wonderful area of southeastern Lane County that I spend so much time in. It seemed like it might be the right time to find some of those late blooming plants, so on Friday, August 10, I picked Gerry up in Lowell and headed down along Hills Creek Reservoir yet again.

Mountain campion (Silene bernardina) is covered with sticky, glandular hairs. You’ll have to wait for Gerry’s exceptional closeups.

Our first stop was Moon Point. Last year we spent the whole day at Moon Point (see Moon Point Melting Out), so this trip, we were only heading to the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail, which is easier to access from the top. With thousands of plants to photograph, one must be as efficient as possible! On the way to the trail intersection, I went poking around looking for the rare green-flowered ginger (Asarum wagneri), one of Gerry’s targets last year. I was surprised to find several still in bloom and was thrilled to find a couple of ripe seeds. The common long-tailed ginger (A. caudatum) was also still displaying flowers, and I found plenty of ripe seed. I’ve posted scans of the latter in the Seed Gallery or you can click here to see the neat fleshy appendages on the seeds. While I was searching for ginger seeds, Gerry discovered his first target plant of the day, mountain campion (Silene bernardina var. rigidula). This is a rare species I’ve only seen here, at nearby Groundhog Mountain, and at Abbott Butte. Silene species are often called catchfly and, indeed, these are sticky enough to catch insects. We photographed some really nice specimens in the shade just after the split in the trails. It was a good thing we did it then because on our way back they were in the sun and had shriveled up. I’ve noticed this with the fairly common Douglas’ campion (S. douglasii). They seem to look their best on cloudy days or first thing in the morning. Not sure why this is true, but I’m sure there’s a good explanation. Read the rest of this entry »

McKenzie Highway Cliffs Followup

This gorgeous, steep, rocky meadow lies “hidden in plain sight” above the highway.

Tiny moths were nectaring on many of the Cryptantha. Someone had evidently been eating the flowers as well.

It was a busy weekend with collecting, setting up, and attending the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower Festival. Finally, I have a chance to report about my return trip last week (May 16) to the seepy roadcut and upper meadows along the McKenzie Highway. I was so excited about seeing the beautiful shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum) along the road several days before (see Floriferous Roadcut Along McKenzie Highway) that I wanted to get back as soon as possible to look for more above the road before they finished blooming. Before I left the first time, I scouted possible ways up. I decided to follow my best guess that hiking up through the woods from the southern end would be possible. Thankfully, it was, and it didn’t take very long to get up to the southern edge of the rocky meadows part way up. The good news was that they were lots of shooting stars coming down the wet seepy slope. In fact, there were shooting stars everywhere—this population rivals that of Cloverpatch. There was also lots of Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii), along with abundant larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), common cryptantha (Cryptantha intermedia), and pretty field chickweed (Cerastium arvense). The bad news was that there was no way to walk across the slope. There were just too many large rock outcrops with dropoffs below. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Season at Hemlock Lake

Mist burning off the lake in the early morning. Goldenrod and many other flowers bloom along the west edge of the lake near the campground.

Hydaspe Fritillaries, like this Northwestern or Atlantis, have a decided preference for nectaring on horsemint (Agastache urticifolia) in the southern part of the Western Cascades where this tall plant grows.

It had been four years since I’d been to Hemlock Lake. With time running out on this summer, especially with colder, longer nights making camping at high elevation less pleasant, I figured I’d better make one last trip down to the North Umpqua area. So on Monday, August 29, I headed to Hemlock Lake and spent the night at the campground there. There was plenty still blooming in the many meadows and wet areas the Yellowjacket trail passes through as it loops around south from the campground. Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) season has begun. New classification has left me bewildered as to what to call these. The bees love their flowers, but I was surprised at how few butterflies I saw. The tall yellow wands of tongue-leaf luina (Rainiera stricta) were also attracting bees and many skippers. Large stretches of horse mint (Agastache urticifolia) and arrowleaf groundsel (Senecio triangularis) were fading but not done. Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) added some bright color to the mix. In the wetlands, there were large areas of western oxypolis (Oxypolis occidentalis), a relatively rare member of the carrot family. The tall yellow flowers of Bolander’s tarweed (Kyhosia bolanderi) were also still blooming. In these wet spots were also a few of the gorgeous orangey-red leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum), always a treat to see on my trips south of Lane County. Read the rest of this entry »

NPSO Trip to Lowder Mountain

A handsome longhorn beetle on queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora)

Last Sunday (July 31), I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for NPSO. The original plan to take people to Balm Mountain had to be changed as a result of the amount of snow on the road (see Not Balmy Yet at Balm Mountain!). But a number of people hadn’t been to Lowder Mountain, and those that have usually enjoy it so much they are happy to return. The woods were really pretty with an especially good show of both queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora) and Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea). So many forest wildflowers are white or light-colored. These show up better in the shade for the pollinators—and wildflower lovers. At the first dry opening, there were many tiny annuals growing in still damp soil between the masses of Eriogonum compositum, including a yellow-flowered plant. I like to point these out because so many people miss these miniature gardens that fill in the spaces between larger perennials. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Moving Slowly at Eagles Rest

Who can resist photographing such a beautiful clump of fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa)!

On our last trip to Eagles Rest, 15 days earlier (see Early But Lovely at Eagles Rest), Sabine and I were excited about the multitudes of Fritillaria affinis buds. I didn’t want to miss what looked to be a fabulous bloom, so yesterday (May 20) we headed back up there. The most striking thing we noticed is how little had changed in two weeks. Upon entering the woods, the carpet of trilliums was still there, with only a few showing signs of their petals fading to pale pink. The snow queen was also still blooming well, but there were far fewer violets. There were still oodles of gorgeous fairy slippers there and farther along the trail, and they were still in perfect bloom. They were even more profuse in the woods up near the summit, some of which were only in bud before. Usually they grow scattered about, but we saw two tight clumps each with seven blossoms. After viewing at least a few hundred flowers, we noticed we never saw a single pollinator visiting them. I’ve read several times about how they fool bees into pollinating them without giving a reward of nectar or pollen. But in all the years of admiring and photographing these stunning flowers, I can’t remember ever seeing any bees or other insects show any interest in them. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Cirsium scariosum on Rattlesnake Mountain

Cirsium scariosum

Elk thistle (Cirsium scariosum) with a view of the Crater Lake Rim. This appears to be the only population on the west side of the Cascades.

I went back to Rattlesnake Mountain several days ago. I was too early for the bright yellow Orobanche, but I found a single O. fasciculata a few inches from Eriophyllum lanatum. I had no luck relocating that little Draba that might have been lonchocarpa, but I did hit it perfectly for the elk thistle (Cirsium scariosum). I was quite surprised to find 2 blooming plants right on the summit. There certainly were no blooming plants up there in the past, although I might have missed seedlings. I did what I had contemplated for a while and climbed down the rocky south-facing side. It was relatively easy (and safe) along the step-like south ridge. The west side is sheer cliffs. I passed a budding Orobanche pinorum right near an old dead stalk in the same spot I saw one on my last trip in 2007. The Hieracium greenei was also in bud. There are several old whitebark pines on the top, one with some cones (Rattlesnake Mtn is one of the highest points in the Western Cascades). Farther down, I was happy to see what looked like young trees, with no old dead branches.

View of Fish Creek Valley and the Crater Lake Rim to the east from the summit

Gorgeous cliff penstemon (Penstemon rupicola) growing in an amazing rock formation

As you go down the slope, it becomes more gravelly and almost plateaus before another cliff. This is where I have to go down the east slope to reconnect with the trail. That’s where the Cirsium scariosum I’d seen in the past was. I looked all around this area and found 4 large blooming plants and approximately 50 young plants. I was guessing they were monocarpic because there were no small blooming plants and I found one dead one with dried flower heads and tiny seedlings next to it. I just confirmed that on the FNA website. I couldn’t bear to harm the beautiful blooming plants, but I did press one youngster for the Herbarium. I hope it is useful. The population seems quite healthy. I wonder if it is expanding, or I just didn’t look hard enough on my other trip to this spot. I will have to check it again in a few years and see how it has changed.

Dome Rock… finally!

Dome Rock seen from earlier along the trail

Dome Rock seen from earlier along the trail

On Tuesday (August 5), John took Sabine and me up to Dome Rock (thanks again for all that driving John!). We a had a great day. We went up Coal Creek Rd 2133 (the scene of a very bad day for me a couple of years ago when I ran into a major washout on my way home from Douglas County. The road looks like it has had many other washouts but was passable for the moment at least.). There are some particularly good areas on the way up after the road turns to 5851. There’s a big cirque of sorts, and water comes down from Balm Mountain (T25S.R3E.S23, Douglas County I’m afraid). We stopped at a wetland along the road first and noticed blooming Trifolium howellii, some Oxalis suksdorfii and lots of tall blooming Rorippa. I noticed there’s no Rorippa on the OFP Atlas for around the area, but I have seen low-growing R. curvisiliqua at both Groundhog and Moon Point. This certainly looked different, but many photos of curvisiliqua show it upright. I will have to study that genus more.

Epilobium luteum & Mimulus guttatus

Epilobium luteum & Mimulus guttatus below Balm Mountain

Then we made a few stops at the many little creeks that come down off the cliffs. The Epilobium luteum that both John and I had seen before was just coming into bloom. We saw plants in several other spots during the day that were probably E. luteum but didn’t even have buds yet. It seems like a good area to look for more. There was also some Claytonia cordifolia coming into bloom and lots of a Stellaria John keyed out to calycantha. Another genus I need to sit down and study. There was a big patch of Artemisia on the side of the road, something I don’t see much Lane County. It had much wider leaf blades than the ones so common in Linn County. They did look similar to the ones at Groundhog however. There was also some Collomia tinctoria on the roadside. We passed by Loletta Lakes, a very large wetland, and the cliff where I saw my only Douglas County Castilleja rupicola. So many places to explore up there. We’ll have to just do a day of roadside botanizing sometime. Read the rest of this entry »

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