Posts Tagged ‘Stellaria’

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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Autumn Comes to Iron Mountain

Vines maples turning red between Iron Mountain and Cone Peak

It was a gorgeous day on Monday (September 27), and a great day to be in the mountains even if most of the flowering is over. In all the times I’d been to Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, I realized I’d never been there in late summer or early fall, so that was our destination. Like most people in western Oregon, Iron Mountain was the first place I’d heard of when asking where to go see flowers. So I went a number of times after I moved here in the early ’90s. But, eventually, I discovered how many other terrific botanical areas there are in the Cascades—and how much more peaceful they are without the summer crowds that seem to make the pilgrimage to Iron Mountain as though it is the only beautiful spot in the mountains. I still love to go up to Cone Peak as the snow is melting, but I’ve kind of ignored Iron Mountain for quite some time. There were many late-blooming plants listed for the area that I’d never seen there, so I was long overdue for a visit. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Bloomers at Echo Basin & Ikenick Creek

Fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) blooms at the end of the summer at Echo Basin.

Labor Day Monday (September 6) was a working day for me—if spending the day botanizing in a pretty wetland can ever be called “work.” After studying the Mimulus primuloides at Hills Peak (see Pikas, and a Coyote, and Monkeyflowers, Oh My!), I wanted to see some more populations in a different area of the Western Cascades. So I headed north to Echo Basin. I knew there’d be other late-blooming wetland plants as well. The air was very crisp when I arrived at the trailhead—a bittersweet reminder that autumn is just around the corner, and pretty soon I’ll be saying goodbye to the mountains until next spring. One of the first plants I noticed along the trail was blunt-sepaled starwort (Stellaria obtusa), one the inconspicuous plants whose distribution I’ve been trying to fill out. There were large, prostrate mats of it along much of the trail. I tediously checked many of them with my hand lens to make sure they really were S. obtusa, looking for four blunt sepals, round capsules, and hairs along the edges of the leaves. Only one fooled me by being the more well-known look-alike, Stellaria crispa, with 5 sharp sepals and long capsules. Most of the ones I’ve seen haven’t formed quite such flat mats. I wish the plants would stop trying to trick me! Read the rest of this entry »

Gordon Meadows Misadventures

A meandering creek runs through all the wet meadows.

Not every day of botanizing goes smoothly and leads to great finds and wonderful photos. In the interest of a balanced representation of my pursuit of botanical knowledge, I thought I would include a report about my less-than-successful day at Gordon Meadows yesterday (August 5). Gordon Meadows is a fabulous wetland area east of Sweet Home. I’d been there a number of times, and, sometimes along with friends Sabine Dutoit and John Koenig, had discovered a number of exciting plants, including the first recorded spot for Montia chamissoi in Linn County and a few plants of the rare Corallorhiza trifida. There are many other uncommon plants here as well. My previous trips had all been in June and July when it is very colorful or in September for scouting trips. I’d never seen it in August and hoped there would be something I’d missed before. 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 »

Rock-hopping at Table Rock Wilderness

Anyone who has read my blog reports probably can tell that cliffs are my favorite habitat. There’s just something awe-inspiring about seemingly delicate flowers clinging to life high up on sheer rock. How do they even get there? There must be a lot of luck involved getting a seed into a tiny crevice on the side of a cliff where the roots can take hold. The contrast between the ephemeral flowers and age-old rock also appeals to the artist in me.

Fool’s huckleberry (Menziesia ferruginea) growing on the giant talus slope

The cliffs at Table Rock have to be some of the most amazing in the Western Cascades. Over 300′ high in places, they stretch for almost 500 yards on the northeast-facing side, above the trail, and almost as much facing east—an area that looks too scary to explore. They have also created massive talus slopes. The trail crosses the talus, which in places continues over 200′ both above and below. This much rock creates what must be the equivalent to a major metropolitan area for pikas. Read the rest of this entry »

Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid

On my very first trip to Three Pyramids, back on June 23, 2003, I discovered an unusual yellow-flowered Castilleja rupicola (cliff paintbrush). I mentioned this to Mark Egger, the author of the upcoming Flora of North America treatment of Castilleja, and he said he’d never seen one (click here to see Mark’s beautiful Castilleja photos). I’d been hoping to see it again some day. I also wanted to continue my quest to check out all the Dodecatheon pulchellum sites I know, so I decided a trip to the Pyramids trail was in order, and yesterday (July 9), Sabine and I headed up there.

Thunderstorms brewing over the High Cascades thankfully kept their distance.

Interestingly, the bloom season was almost the same as it was on that first trip. On almost every trail I’ve been on this year, flowering has been about two weeks later than “usual”— whatever that is these days. The weather was quite different, however. On my first trip, I remember the clouds were so low that for a few minutes, all I could see from my perch on the tiny summit was mist below me. It was quite unnerving, and I was so relieved when they lifted some before I went down—especially because it turned out I was totally disoriented and facing the opposite direction I thought I was. Yesterday, on the other hand, was quite hot, and while it was clear all around us, thunder clouds built up over the Three Sisters and Mount Washington as the day wore on, and we could hear rumbling all the way back down. Read the rest of this entry »

Heckletooth Times Two

Sunday (May 23rd), Sabine and I led a hike to Heckletooth Mountain, right outside of Oakridge, for a group of folks mainly from the Native Plant Society (NPSO) and the Rock Garden Society (NARGS). We had been thinking about doing this for several years as this is a relatively close-in, easy access hike with a number of wonderful wildflowers. We planned the hike much earlier this year when it looked like it was going to be an exceptionally early spring. As we all know, hindsight is 20/20 vision. The cold spring practically stopped everything dead in its tracks. I did at least have the foresight to schedule a rain date, so people were prepared when we decided to move the hike from Saturday to Sunday. Not only did it rain for much of Saturday, but the snow level came down well below 3000′.

Hike participants made quick work of recently fallen trees blocking the road.

We were quite surprised to have 19 participants (one of the canine variety) on what was still an iffy weather day. We had spent much of the week worrying about the trip in light of the dreadful combination of downpours, hail, high winds, and thunderstorms, as well as the low snow level, and had been thinking about our backup plan should snow prevent us from getting to the top of the mountain. What we hadn’t considered was what to do if we couldn’t even reach the trailhead. As we made our way up the short gravel road to the trailhead, we were surprised and dismayed to see two good-sized trees across the road. Another fitting saying is “many hands make light work.” It turned out having 18 people was perfect for this situation—that and a bow saw that I keep in the back of my vehicle for emergencies. Had I been alone, I would have just turned around, but with this gungho crowd, we dispatched the roadblock in no time. Read the rest of this entry »

Hills Creek Reservoir, take 2

It is officially spring!! The weather was lovely again yesterday (March 24), so Sabine and I headed out past Oakridge to see how things were coming along by Hills Creek Reservoir and some of our other favorite roadside botanizing spots along Road 21. It was almost 5 weeks since we were there, and we were surprised that the Crocidium multicaule (gold stars) was even more outstanding than in February when we thought it was the best we’d ever seen it. Almost every shelf on the cliffs was dusted bright yellow with a multitude of their adorable little daisy-like flowers.

Crocidium multicaule

Crocidium multicaule growing en masse along Rigdon Point Road

Upon opening the car door at our first stop along the cliffs, I was immediately taken with a lovely fragrance in the air. We concluded it must be coming from the few small cottonwoods that were leafing out nearby. Their resiny fragrance is a favorite of mine this time of year. But while taking some closeups of the Crocidium, I took a sniff and realized the sweet smell was coming from the flowers. Offhand, I can’t think of any composites with floral fragrance, although many have aromatic leaves. The smell is honey-like with a touch of spice. When I returned home and sniffed the Oregon grape blooming in my garden, I realized the Crocidium was quite similar, only not quite as strong. I had some doubts when, as I sniffed at each plant I photographed, some did not seem to be giving off much fragrance. Later in the day, however, we stopped at a roadcut along Rigdon Point Road. Again, the fragrance struck me as soon as I opened the car door and was delicious up close. No cottonwoods anywhere, nor anything else in bloom. Has anyone else noticed scented Crocidium? Read the rest of this entry »

Hidden Lakes at Bristow Prairie

Another report from the Calapooyas. Yesterday, Sabine and I went back to Bristow Prairie. Things looked about the same as they did when we went last year in September, but we wanted to explore the Lane County side this time and to check out the smaller lakes in the woods. Mostly what was in bloom was goldenrod and Klamath weed, so the whole place had a pretty yellow tinge. The Veratrum has had a great bloom year everywhere and there were loads of V. insolitum hanging on as well as the more common viride and a little californicum. Last year on many of my trips it didn’t appear they had bloomed at all.

We headed straight for the main lake. The Sagittaria was in fading bloom as were the pond lilies. There was also still some Potamogeton epihydrus (I’m pretty sure of the species) with some flowers. I thought I’d seen that last year, but it was disappearing then so I wasn’t sure. We didn’t spend much time looking around the surrounding wetland, but I did see a few Spiranthes stellata and a large area of Stellaria obtusa. We saw lots more of that in damp shady areas as we continued. I had S. crispa on my list, so that was a misidentification. Unfortunately, not only did I drag Sabine on a day of nothing but bushwhacking, but I had her bring her rubber boots for the lower lakes and she lost one, and then we didn’t even need them as things were drying out. We tried but could not find it. I hope to get back earlier next year to see peak bloom. Maybe the boot will reappear when the foliage isn’t so tall!

Southwestern hidden lake at Bristow Prairie

Southwestern hidden lake at Bristow Prairie with oodles of Sagittaria cuneata, willows, Cicuta douglasii, and Spiraea douglasii

We found the lower two lakes without too much trouble although we went back a much easier way than we went down. They are only about 500′ from the bottom of the meadow. The animals obviously know the best way between the lakes and the meadow, so we followed their trail back up. The lower lakes are quite pretty. They are maybe 100′ apart and yet they didn’t have the same plants in them. The south one has tons of Sagittaria cuneata and pond lilies. The north has loads of Menyanthes trifoliata and some pond lilies but no Sagittaria. The bad news is that the southern pond is in Douglas County and the northern one in Lane. I found a swampy area just south of the south pond with a colony of Listera convallarioides. There were also a couple of plants with large, somewhat hairy, palmate leaves that I wouldn’t have guessed were Geranium richardsonii if I hadn’t just seen them blooming a few days before at Skipper Lakes. I double-checked my photos of the Geranium as well as similar plants like Trautvetteria that might be in that habitat, and it is definitely the Geranium. That of course is also on the Douglas County side. The interesting plants seem determined to stay out of Lane County! Read the rest of this entry »

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