Thus rang out the 4-note call of the Western Himes, my botanical tour guide and host in the fair Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon.
Translation: "I see something special."
In this case we were crawling along a Forest Service road in a rental Yaris, scanning the dense understory for flashes of white - on the oft-chance conditions were right for some rare and elusive phantom orchids to be up. The ghosts of the forest.
And, of course, that's exactly what he'd spotted.
Phantom Orchids, Cephalanthera austiniae
That stark white screams "I'm a parasite and darn proud of it!"
I tell ya, sometimes it feels like the guy actually thinks plants into being.
But, I should also expect such surprises in a place where sights like this are common:
Mom Osprey with chicks on nest on bridge over the Rogue River
Some may be wondering what I, a California Naturalist, was doing over the border in Oregon. Aside from visiting a great friend and mentor, of course.
Well, you see - plants don't know state borders, and neither do floristic provinces. In fact, the California Floristic Province includes the border-hugging Klamath Mountains (of which the Siskiyou Mountains are part), extending it well up into western Oregon.
Making some CA species easier to see in OR. Especially in drought years.
So here are 16 more great species we saw in our explorations of the Siskiyous.
Pacific Coralroot Orchid, Corallorhiza mertensiana
Queen's Cup, Clintonia uniflora
Bolander's Lily, Lilium bolanderi
Cascade Lily, Lilium washingtonianum var. purpurescens
Glacier Lily, Erythronium grandiflorum
The tentacular Elegant Star Tulip, Calochortus elegans
Howell's Mariposa, Calochortus howellii, named for the amazing John Thomas Howell
Orange Honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa
Hupa Gooseberry, Ribes marshallii
Swamp Currant, Ribes lacustre
Redflower Currant, Ribes sanguineum var. sanguineum
Split-hair Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja schizotricha
Cobwebby Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja arachnoidea
Siskiyou Paintbrush, Castilleja elata
Hooker's Catchfly, Silene hookeri
Henderson's Prettyface, Triteleia hendersonii
One way I knew I was still under the watchful eye of
Edit 7-30-13: turns out I was all turned around as usual, and the above is Mt. McLoughlin, and not Shasta. Ah well. Blasted lousy sense of direction.