Monday, July 22, 2013

Oregon Trails

"Ooh ooh, ooh ooh..."

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:

osprey with chicks
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
Queen's Cup, Clintonia uniflora

perfect bolanderi
Bolander's Lily, Lilium bolanderi

washington lily
Cascade Lily, Lilium washingtonianum var. purpurescens

glacier lily
Glacier Lily, Erythronium grandiflorum

The tentacular Elegant Star Tulip, Calochortus elegans

howell's mariposa
Howell's Mariposa, Calochortus howellii, named for the amazing John Thomas Howell

orange honeysuckle
Orange Honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa

hupa gooseberry
Hupa Gooseberry, Ribes marshallii

swamp currant
Swamp Currant, Ribes lacustre

redflower currant
Redflower Currant, Ribes sanguineum var. sanguineum

Split-hair Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja schizotricha

Cobwebby Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja arachnoidea

Siskiyou Paintbrush, Castilleja elata

hooker catchfly
Hooker's Catchfly, Silene hookeri

henderson prettyface
Henderson's Prettyface, Triteleia hendersonii

One way I knew I was still under the watchful eye of California Oregon - the giant always loomed:

Mount Shasta McLoughlin as seen from the Siskiyou Mountains

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.



  1. Ok. That does it. I'm moving.

  2. Great stuff! You got some excellent photos of some very cool wildflowers there.

  3. That area is absolutely gorgeous. I love your Castilleja captures. The split-hair paintbrush is now officially on my must-see list. I could be wrong, but isn't that Mt. McLoughlin, not Shasta?

    1. Thanks Katie. I would put the schizotricha on my best plants ever list. Think that's Shasta. Not sure we could see McLoughlin. We were just a couple of miles from the CA border, southwest of Mount Ashland.


      Sorry, my husband and I became obsessed this evening finding out which major mountain we see along the I-5 in southern OR (the one that has a road sign pointing to it), even going so far as traveling hundreds of miles via Google Maps Street View.

      You can't really see Mt. Shasta until you go as far south as Yreka, and even there it looks very distant:

    3. Don't know if distance would have been an issue, I was at 6,000 feet and shooting with a 400mm lens, but the shape shows no doubt that it's Mt. McLoughlin. Thanks for the correction.


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