Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tiny flowers with big beauty

We took a Sunday drive up to Little Shasta Meadows Botanical Area on the east side 
and were gifted with Pygmy Lewisia in bloom in the still-wet-sand of the meadow.

Two other tiny flowers: Dwarf Waterleaf, herding her flowers under her wings, like a hen brooding chicks, and the belly-flowered Miner's Lettuce (belly flowers are so small you have to get on your belly to see them!).

It was too early for the beautiful blue Camas lily, but we saw plenty of buttercups and purple larkspur.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Careful observation reveals secret worlds

My husband, in his daily rounds caretaking our lovely white oak and chaparral scrub home, discovered these little beauties coming up in an old roadcut on top of the ridge.  He was baffled at how the entire plant was yellow! And has no leaves!  It's true, because the plant has no chlorophyll--it's parasitic to the roots of neighboring plants.

Orobanche fasciculata, commonly known as Clustered broomrape, is native to California.

Here's another Orobanche, the purple-flowering O. uniflora or Single-flowered broomrape, 
that lives in the lean serpentine soils of China Hill, just to the northeast of Yreka.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Too bad there's no video of the Sandhill Cranes dancing

We took a day drive to Willow Creek Mountain, the source of the Little Shasta River.  Found lots of wildflowers, but got no pictures of the female Sooty Grouse or the courting Sandhill Cranes.

Arrow-leaf balsam root catches some sun.

Showy phlox peeps from the rock.

Three new white flowers for me: a fragrant sweet pea, columnar phacelia 
and I think that last is a Death Camas (lily family)!!!

And then, there's the lovely purple phacelia.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring comes early to Yreka

Yreka's own native endemic phlox, Phlox hirsuta, was found blooming about a month early this year at China Hill, on the northeast side of town.

Other plants flowering on this sunny day before Easter included (from top) poppies and blue gilia, silver rock cress, blue dicks and lomatium.

Showy phlox, Phlox speciosa, also makes a home on China Hill's lean serpentine soils.  Note the notched petals on this one, compared to the Yreka phlox.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer's Reflection at Orr Lake

Visiting a rarely-appreciated gem on the east side of Siskiyou: 
Orr Lake, a high desert oasis tucked in a the base of Orr Mountain between 
Goosenest and Mt. Hoffman and with a view to Mt. Shasta to the south.

Fed by overflow from nearby Butte Creek, Orr Lake survives year-to-year on its winter income and yet provides a home for lily pads and fish all summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Downriver: Fire and Water

With multiple fires burning around us, we took a little loop drive from the Scott River to the Klamath and back home.  The air was filled with smoke and the landscape reminded us of fire at every turn.

The abandoned Fire Lookout on the point at Scott Bar Mountain once gave a view onto the Scott River's big turn north to the Klamath.  Today the view is hazy and indistinct.

Jones Beach below was a quiet respite of dappled light, where baby fish darted in shallow pools.

And still the smoke could be seen beyond.

Lake Mountain Fire Lookout, reached by a winding road west of the Scott, is the oldest lookout tower still in continuous use in Forest Service Region 5 (California) and is currently staffed by 
Nancy Hood, the longest-serving lookout in probably the whole U.S.

Below the tower, a beautiful silver-leafed buckwheat matches to an astonishing degree 
the lichen-crusted rocks of Lake Mountain.

An old fox-tail pine shows a cat-face fire scar, now lined with lichen but still alive.
This tree is one of a stand at the northern-most limit of fox-tails.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Glorious Day on the East Side

The first week of June proved to be a perfect time to revisit Little Shasta Meadows Botanical Area on the east side of the Klamath National Forest.  We were treated to a lake of camas lily, brightened by pink "elephant trunks" (pedicularis sp.), the white lollipop heads of bistort and acres of yellow buttercup.

Camas lilies are beautiful!  They were also a favored food source for the First Peoples, who cultivated great seas of lilies in wet meadows of the West.  Beware to modern foragers, though: the lily bulb is harvested in autumn when it is hard to distinguish from the bulb of the death camas!

This little column of pink flowers is named for its swooping tubules.

Bistort is another edible wild plant, but beware the corn lily
 in front of it: all parts are poisonous!