Shooting stars up close: Macro Monday

Shooting stars up close

Shooting stars up close. Wildflowers blooming on Glass Buttes in the High Desert of Oregon.

Macro Monday

Arches National Park in bloom: LAPC

In early May 2017, we visited the national parks in Utah. With temperatures in the 90s, we didn’t exactly avoid the desert’s heat, but we were happy to see Arches National Park in bloom.

These plants grow well under the hot, sunny conditions. Here are a few of the plants we saw in bloom. Some are big and bold; others are small and subtle.

Arches National Park in bloom May 2017
Blooming cactus in Utah May 2017
Evening primrose in Utah May 2017
Arches National Park in bloom, yucca plant Utah May 2017
Blooming wildflowers and grasses in Utah May 2017
Arches National Park wildflowers May 2017

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Under the sun

Plant ID – To weed or not to weed: Friday Flowers

To weed or not to weed. Sometimes weeding is a big job, so how can you tell which plant is a weed?

Are the tall plants in this photo weeds that I should pull?

Mullein plants near Bend, Oregon July 2020

What about this plant with pretty purple flowers?

Spotted knapweed near Bend, Oregon July2020

Are these two plants weeds?

Oregon sunshine & iceplant near Bend, Oregon July2020

You can’t always determine what kind of plant it is, but plant ID tools will help.

Websites & Apps

A good place to start, is the Wildflower Search website. You can narrow down the possibilities by clicking on a map with the general location you saw the plant. You can narrow it down more by inputting if it’s a tree, shrub, flower, grass, etc. Entering the color of the flower and the time of year you observed it narrows it down even more. This site goes into more detail with options including the growth pattern of leaves and the number of flower petals but most of the time, just selecting the options already mentioned helps determine what it is.

Wildflower Search Plant ID July 2020

Here in Oregon, you can get a paid app for Oregon Wildflower identification. It has similar features to the Wildflower Search site. This app is great to have on your phone when you’re out in the field. Is there a plant ID app where you live? They are a great resource!

Oregon Wildlfowers Plant ID July 2020

Books & Extension Units

Of course you can consult a wide selection of field guides. Use those that cover your geographic area. Here are a few I use. Yes, that copy of Sagebrush Country has spent a lot of time in the field. 😉 If you’re looking for a more recently published field guide, see Wildflowers of Oregon: A Field Guide to over 400 Wildflowers, Trees, and Shrubs of the Coast, Cascades, and High Desert.

Plant identification field guides July 2020

Don’t forget to consult your local Cooperative Extension Unit. If you take in a cutting, they can help you identify the plant. At the Oregon State University Extension Service office closest to me, I can “Ask an Expert” by sending in a photograph of an unidentified plant. They’ll help you with plant ID. Cooperative Extension Units have a wealth of information for gardeners. The one here in Central Oregon has a great publication on water-wise gardening that I have referred to numerous times.

Water-wise gardening handbook July 2020

My Favorite Plant ID Tool!

I saved my favorite plant identification tool for last. Install the Google Lens app and take a picture with your phone. Open the picture and click on the icon and your screen will sparkle like it’s been sprinkled with pixie dust. Then it will magically show you pictures with names of possible plants. I have also used this app for identifying random antiques, but identifying plants is what I use it for the most. Does Google Lens work perfectly in identifying everything? No! Yesterday I took a picture of a lizard on a juniper tree. It told me it was a pangolin, a type of scaly anteater, on bamboo. 😀 However, Google Lens usually narrows things down and then you can refer to field guides, etc.

So back to my original questions about if I should pull the plants pictured.

Google Lens mullein plant near Bend, Oregon July 2020

Google Lens tells me the first plant is a type of mullein. They are considered a weed where I live. However, birds love the seeds on those tall stalks so I leave a few in the landscaping for them. It’s okay to keep plants that aren’t native if you keep them from getting out of control.

Google Lens spotted knapweed near Bend, Oregon July 2020

The second plant, with the pretty purple flowers, is spotted knapweed. It is so invasive around Central Oregon that you can be fined up to $750 a day per lot. I pull every one of those I see. The local Noxious Weed Program helps landowners identify aggressive, non-native plants.

The last picture is a twofer. Are these plants weeds? I can click on each plant and Google Lens will tell me what they are. The yellow flowered plant is Oregon sunshine. This native plant grows like a weed, but I love its cheerful color and long-lasting blooms so I don’t pull it. The pink flowered plant is iceplant. It’s an escapee from a landscaped part of our yard. It gets no water where it is but it’s doing great! Both these plants will stay where they are.

Good luck with your attempts at plant ID. Hope these tools help.

Friday Flowers

Blue flax flowers up close: Macro Monday

Blue flax flowers up close in my garden. These delicate flowers are difficult to photograph because they have a habit of turning away from the camera. I guess they are a little camera shy!

Macro Monday

Yellowstone in spring is a time to… : LAPC

Yellowstone in spring is a time to

Shrug off that old winter coat and

  • Yellowstone in spring, Elk near West Thumb, Yellowstone June 2018
  • Bison near Norris Geyser Basin June 2015

Feel the warmth of the sun

  • Red fox near Calcite Spring June 2018
  • Mountain Bluebird near Morning Glory hot spring June 2015

Yellowstone in spring is a time to

View rainbows captured in pools and

  • Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, Yellowstone June 2018
  • Rainbow Pool in Biscuit Basin June 2018

Ephemeral wildflowers

  • Balsamroot near Mammoth Hot Springs May 2018
  • Fringed gentian surrounding Ear Spring June 2015

Yellowstone in spring is a time to

Welcome new lives into the world and

  • Yellowstone in Spring, Bison & calves in Lamar Valley June 2015
  • Yellow-bellied marmot & pup near Calcite Spring June 2018

Marvel at their adventures

  • Two bighorn sheep ewes & lambs, Calcite Spring, Yellowstone June 2015
  • Black bear and two cubs June 2011

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge (LAPC) – Spring

All about Purple sage: Friday Flowers

Purple sage and Indian paintbrush  at Gray Butte, Oregon May 2016

     You may have heard of this plant referred to in the classic western, Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. But did you know purple sage is not actually in the sagebrush family? It’s a type of sage in the mint family, Lamiaceae, and one of its common names is “mint sage.” If you crush the leaves in your hand you’ll be able to tell why.

     I’ve seen purple sage, Salvia dorrii, in various high desert locations in eastern Oregon. Gray Butte, just northeast of Smith Rock, is a great place to see this native shrub in full bloom.

Wildflowers at Gray Butte May 2016

    Purple sage grows in the western United States and northwestern Arizona, south to the Mojave Desert. It grows on open slopes, flats, or foothill areas receiving 7-15 inches of annual precipitation. This shrub grows in low to high elevations in sandy, rocky, and limestone soils. It often grows in stands of sagebrush and in pinyon-juniper habitats.

Wildflowers at Gray Butte May 2016

     This plant is a semi-evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 1-3 feet and a width of 2-4 feet. Its narrow, grey-green leaves are rounded at the tips. The flowers are purple and dark blue and they appear in spike-like clusters. Purple sage blooms from May through June. Their gray to red-brown fruit is 1/8 inch or smaller.

Honeybee on purple sage Bend, Oregon June 2020

Purple sage in the garden

     Purple sage can be grown in gardens. This plant grows in full sun and has very low water requirements. Purple sage is propagated by seeds, dividing the plants in early spring, or taking cuttings of new growth. It attracts bees, butterflies, and birds, including hummingbirds. This shrub is deer and rabbit resistant. Purple sage grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 4b through 10a. That includes areas with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of -30 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

High desert landscape Bend, Oregon June 2020

Ethnobotany

     Native Americans made use of this plant throughout its range. Stems and leaves of purple sage were used as a cure for colds by the Kawasiiu, Paiute, Shoshoni, Okanagan-Colville, and Washoe tribes. They also applied poultices to the chest, smoked the dried leaves, and made steam baths from parts of the plant. It was used in various forms to treat headaches, stomachaches, fever, influenza, pneumonia, gonorrhea, swollen leg veins, eye problems, and general illness. Hopi, Kumai, and Paipai used this sage to treat epilepsy, headaches, stomachaches, and other conditions. The Kawasiiu people threw it into the fire to ward off ghosts.

Fun Fact: The genus name of this plant, Salvia, comes from the Latin word salveo. It means “Be well/ in good health.”

Clover up close at Glass Buttes: SMM

Clover up close

Last week we visited Glass Buttes to collect obsidian and many wildflowers were in full bloom. Here is a clover up close.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Buckwheat blossoms in the summer: Floral Friday #13

Buckwheat blossoms near Bend, Oregon 28June2019

These wild buckwheat blossoms were photographed in the High Desert near Bend, Oregon. I believe this is a variety of Eriogonum umbellatum, the sulfur flower. Their yellow blossoms brighten up the desert like little rays of sunshine!

Floral Fridays

Hells Canyon in the Spring: Friday Flowers

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is tucked into the northeastern corner of Oregon and the western edge of Idaho. We visited Hells Canyon in the spring last year. At the overlook, the meadows were carpeted in wildflowers. Perfect timing for pictures!

Hells Canyon view to the east 4 June 2019
View to the east

Many different types of flowers were in full bloom.

Wildflower meadow at Hells Canyon, Oregon 4 June 2019
Meadow full of wildlfowers

We had great weather to take in the panoramic view. The Snake River winds through this canyon nearly 8,000 feet below the canyon rim. Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America, is almost 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon.

View to southeast at Hells Canyon, Oregon 4 June 2019
View to the southeast

Whitestem frasera plants grew in dense clumps sprinkled with pale purple flowers.

Whitestem frasera, Hells Canyon, Oregon 4 June 2019
Whitestem frasera

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area was created in 1975. It encompasses 652,488 acres. There are nearly 2,900 miles of trails in this recreation area.

View to the south at Hells Canyon, Oregon 4 June 2019
View to the south

The dramatic landscape was formed by volcanic activity hundreds of millions of years ago followed by collisions of tectonic plates. The mountains eroded over time. A series of lava flows sculpted them into the mountains we see today.

Purple larkspur flowers bordered the trail. I have a different native variety growing on my desert property near Bend, Oregon. One of my favorite plants!

Larkspur in the foreground, Hells Canyon, Oregon 4 June 2019
Larkspur in the foreground

A gallery of Hells Canyon wildflowers

Here’s a gallery of some of the other wildflowers I saw that day. I had never seen these varieties of balsamroot or clematis flowers anywhere before. Wonderful sights to see!

The Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center is located below Hells Canyon Dam. It is open seasonally and was not yet open when we visited.

You can see Seven Devils Mountain peeking out in this view to the north.

View to the north, Hells Canyon Overlook, Oregon 4 June 2019
View to the north

Hells Canyon Overlook is located 45 miles east of Joseph, Oregon, where we stayed. Check road conditions ahead of time because there can be snow in this high elevation area. It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes to get there from Joseph since you drive on twisting, turning Forest Service roads. The drive is well worth it!

Bunchberry in full bloom: SMM

Bunchberry dogwood in bloom, Washington July 2011
Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis

This small groundcover plant is actually a type of dogwood. These striking plants range in height from eight inches, as in the bunchberry, to the 60-foot tall Pacific dogwood tree. Beautiful in any size!

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Bumblebee on paintbrush: SMM

Bumblebee on paintbrush, Yellowstone, June 2018

I saw this bumblebee on paintbrush at Yellowstone National Park in the late spring.

Slender paintbrush , Yellowstone National Park, June 2018

Slender paintbrush was common near the thermal features.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday (SMM)

Prostrate lupine – a tiny beauty: Friday Flowers

Prostrate lupine on Steens Mountain, Oregon 29 August 2019
Prostrate lupine

We stopped at the Kiger Gorge overlook on Steens Mountain in August and saw tiny flowers at our feet. These are prostrate lupines, Lupinus lepidus var. lobbii. I put my hand in the picture just to give you an idea of the scale.

This native plant grows in alpine habitats. The tiny blue or purple flowers measure 1/3 inch across. The plant grows to a height of 4-6 inches. Another common name for this low profile plant is “dwarf lupine.” Lupines have distinctive leaves that are almost star-like in form. The seedpods are often covered with soft “hair.”

Prostrate lupine blooms in June, July, and August. The plants I saw in late August were growing at 9,000 feet in elevation. Everything blooms later there.

Kiger Gorge Overlook, Steens Mountain, Oregon 28August2019
Kiger Gorge Overlook

This lupine ranges north to the Cascade and Olympic mountains in Washington State, south to northern California and east to western Idaho and Nevada. Prostrate lupines grow on talus slopes and in rocky pumice soils at high elevations.

Prostrate lupine is a perennial that grows in areas with heavy snowfall in the winter and short dry summers. Like other lupines, its flowers attract pollinators.

Friday Flowers

Sunflowers & Stagecoaches at the Steens

Sunflowers & stagecoaches? You may be wondering how those two things go together.

Last August we explored the Steens Mountain area by car. Did you know you can drive all the way around this 50-mile long mountain and to its 9,700-foot peak at certain times of the year? The views from up there are breathtaking!

Common sunflower

The following pictures are from the dirt road on the east side of Steens Mountain. Common sunflowers, Helianthus annus L., were in full bloom along the road.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

As their name implies, common sunflowers are common throughout the conterminous United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Sunflowers have been introduced in other parts of North America and throughout the world. They occur in a wide variety of habitats including prairies, roadsides, near railroad right-of-ways, savannas, and forest edges.

Sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

These leggy plants grow 1.5 to 8+ feet tall and bloom from July through October. Their iconic flowers actually have two kinds of flowers. The yellow “ray” flowers look like petals but each is an individual flower. The “disc” flowers, at the center of the brown head, are usually small. If you magnified your view of the center of the flower, you would see that each of these disc flowers had five petals. The alternate leaves, and the main stem are covered in coarse hair.

Common sunflowers at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

The value of sunflowers

Sunflowers are valuable to both wildlife and people. The seeds are sought out by many species of birds. Do you have sunflower seeds from the cultivated variety of sunflower in your bird feeder? If you do, you know how much birds and other wildlife enjoy eating them.

Now on to how this plant is used by humans. Wow! Where do I start?

You have probably munched on sunflower seeds, but did you know the yellow flowers are also edible? They make a colorful addition to a salad.

Historical uses

In July of 1805, the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled along the Missouri River in Montana and recorded these observations on sunflowers.

The sunflower is in bloom [NB: Copy for Dr. Barton ] and abundant in the river bottoms. The Indians of the Missouri particularly those who do not cultivate maze make great uce of the seed of this plant for bread, or use it in thickening their soope.    they most commonly first parch the seed and then pound them between two smooth stones untill they reduce it to a fine meal.    to this they sometimes mearly add a portion of water and drink it in that state, or add a sufficient quantity of marrow grease to reduce it to the consistency of common dough and eate it in that manner.    the last composition I think much best and have eat it in that state heartily and think it a pallateable dish.

There are many medicinal uses of this annual plant. Flowers were used for heart problems and in treating burns. Roots were used in treating blisters and snakebites. Native Americans made a leaf tea to treat lung ailments and high fevers. A poultice was applied to snake and spider bites. Seeds were used as diuretics and to help heal coughing.

Some current uses

In addition to the historical usages, sunflowers are used in creating dyes, soap, cattle and chicken feed, and a fine silky fiber, similar to hemp. Sunflower oil is widely consumed in both North America and Europe.

Fun Fact: Some Native Americans believed sunflowers were a symbol of courage. Warriors would carry sunflowers cakes with them into battle. Hunters would sprinkle themselves with sunflower powder to keep their spirits up.

Sunflowers & stagecoach stop

So now you know more about sunflowers, but why is this post called Sunflowers & Stagecoaches? While taking pictures of the sunflowers, I remembered to look for an old stagecoach stop I had seen on a Circling Steens Mountain birding field trip. Ah ha! Found it. See the dark spots in the middle of this photo? Those are the remnants of a stagecoach stop.

Sunflowers & stagecoaches at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Here’s a closer look. The crumbling rock walls are all that’s left of this stop.

Stagecoach stop at Steens Mountain, Oregon August 2019

Stagecoach travel

In the late 1800s to early 1900s, stagecoach routes crisscrossed the West. On the more heavily traveled routes there were stops every 25 miles or so. Why that distance? That’s about how far a team of horses pulling wagons full of goods and passengers could travel. Their progress was slow due to difficult terrain and weather that could quickly change from scorching heat to bone-chilling cold.

Some of these stations were just for changing horse teams while others had accommodations available for travelers. The stops in Fields and Frenchglen offered more options for weary travelers. One stop near the one pictured above charged 25 cents for overnight lodging and meals. The charge for the care of each horse was an additional 25 cents.

Travel along these stagecoach routes was not fast. For example, the east-west route from Ontario, Oregon to Burns, Oregon took approximately 40 hours. Today that 130-mile route takes 2 hours 12 minutes. But imagine all the sights those early travelers must have seen on those slow journeys…

Blazing star beauties: Friday flowers

Blazing star beauties in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Wildflowers blooming on Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon August 2019
Pilot Butte view in Bend, Oregon August 2019

I saw these blazing star beauties at the top of Pilot Butte in Bend, Oregon last August. Pilot Butte is an extinct volcano that is a state scenic viewpoint. It’s a great place to visit for a 360 degree high desert view! You can see in the photos that these flowers are growing on cinder rocks. The Sisters volcanic peaks are in the background of the last picture.

Blazing star, Mentzelia laevicaulis, is a native plant that grows along roadsides and on sandy, gravelly, or rocky slopes. This plant has showy star-shaped flowers filled with bunches of yellow stamens. The flowers can measure 5-6 inches across.

They grow 3-6 feet tall and bloom June through September. The rough leaves are gray-green in color. One of their common names is ‘stickleaf’ because the leaves have barbed hairs that stick to clothing, etc.

Native Americans used them medicinally for several ailments. Roots were used in treating earaches, rheumatism and arthritis, and thirst. Fevers, mumps, measles, and smallpox were treated with a root infusion. Root infusions were also used to reduce swelling of bruises. Leaves were boiled and the liquid was used for stomachaches and as a wash for skin conditions.

Blazing star plants range from southern Canada south through the western United States (Zones 9a-11).

They can be grown in gardens from seed or starts. This plant grows well in full sun in gravelly or sandy soils. They require little water and the bright yellow flowers look great in rock gardens.

Blazing stars are biennials or short-lived perennials. They are hardy and deer-resistant. The blossoms are of special value to bees, butterflies, and moths.

Fun fact: The spectacular flowers open mid-morning and stay open throughout the night so they are a favorite with nocturnal pollinators like hawk moths and carpenter bees.

Purple Pretties: Friday Flowers

Here are a few of my purple pretties in full bloom in my High Desert yard in Central Oregon.

Unique Sights-High & Low: LAPC

The Lens-Artists photo challenge today is “unique.” I thought of several unique sights I’ve seen in Oregon that fit this category.

Unique sights "Super 8" Petroglyph, Harney County, OR 11April2019
“Super 8” Petroglyph

Our guide in Harney County referred to this ancient petroglyph as the Super 8. Do you see a resemblance to an old movie camera? Petroglyphs are carved into stone while pictographs are painted onto stone.

Hairy clematis flowers 4June2019
Hairy clematis flowers

I saw these hairy clematis flowers at the Hell’s Canyon Overlook earlier this month. This unusual flower has a lot of common names including lion’s beard, leather flower, vase flower, and sugar bowl. They look similar to prairie smoke flowers featured in a previous post.

Unique sights Great Basin Spadefoot Toad 4May2018
Great Basin Spadefoot Toad

I can’t help but think of the words “unique sights” when I recall this toad I found in my high desert yard. I thought it was so interesting that I wrote a short story about it called The Toad Queen.

Pronghorn buck 1May2018
Pronghorn buck

Pronghorn are one of my favorite animals. Besides being fast and looking cool, they are in their own family. They are the only member of Antilocapridae.

Hawk taking off 25February2017
Red-tailed hawk taking off

Sometimes you see a common species, like this red-tailed hawk, from a unique perspective. I snapped a quick picture of this one taking off from a cliff.

Unique sights sky colored by fires nearby, Bend, OR 2July2014
Fire in the sky

A few years ago, fires were burning around us in all directions. Fortunately, none of the fires were very close but the smoke caused the skies to turn brilliant colors.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Unique

Sand lily – High Desert Star: Friday Flowers

Sand lily - High desert star
Sand lily, Leucocrinum montanum

The sand lily, also known as the star lily, is a delicate perennial wildflower found in western North America. It grows in sagebrush deserts, open montane forests, and in sandy and rocky soils.

The plant above is growing near sagebrush in an uncultivated part of my property near Bend, Oregon. There is only one plant and I look forward to it blooming every spring.

Sand lily - High desert star 15May2019
A field of sand lilies

I have seen “fields” of sand lily growing in other locations. This field was seen on a hike near Tumalo dam.

Sand lily - High desert star 15May2019
Sand lilies grow well in hot, dry conditions

Last year I planted two sand lily plants I purchased at WinterCreek Restoration and Nursery and they bloomed a couple weeks ago. This nursery specializes in native plants that use little water.

If you see sand lilies in nature, you may be tempted to dig them up to plant in your yard. Unfortunately, this plant, with its long rhizome growing beneath the soil, does not transfer well.

Please enjoy them in nature and purchase them from a trusted source. They will grow in USDA zones 5-9. They do well in rock gardens with lots of sunlight. Sand lilies require very little water to shine brightly in your garden.

Here’s a haiku about this plant I featured in a previous post – Tiny Oasis

Fringed Gentian: Friday Flowers

Gentian 30May2018

The fringed gentian, Gentianopsis thermalis, grows in meadows, bogs, and on moist ground. This species prefers growing in warm places and it’s common near geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. It is the official flower of the park.

This plant grows to a height of 4-16 inches and blooms in May through August. This annual has purple flowers 1.5-3 inches in length. The showy flowers are fringed along the edges.

Fringed gentians can be found across northern Canada and south through the Rocky Mountains and into parts of New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.

Native Americans used gentians to treat headaches and as an antidote to witchcraft.

Fun fact: The flowers curl up and close on cloudy days leaving just the tops visible. The closed flowers resemble a small windmill.

Prairie Smoke: Friday Flowers

A Rose by Another Name

Prairie Smoke Wyoming 1June2018

Prairie smoke, Geum triflorum, is a native plant of the prairies and it’s a less showy member of the rose family. The sepals on their droopy flowers are fused shut so they can’t open fully. I was drawn to this plant with its plain flowers and deeply serrated leaves.

The plants grow 6-10″ tall and bloom in late spring through early summer. Once the flowers are fertilized, they are followed by feathery wispy “fruits” (achenes) that somewhat resemble smoke. Another common name for this plant is Old Man’s Whiskers. The semi-evergreen leaves turn varying shades of red, purple, and orange in the fall.

Native Americans used prairie smoke roots and crushed seeds in eye washes, sore throat remedies, yeast infection treatments, and to help with stomach and menstrual cramps. The Nlaka’pmx used its roots in a drink and in a body wash in sweathouses. The Okanagan also used it in a love potion for women.

This plant can be found in southern Canada and in the central and northern United States (Zones 3-7). It grows in gravelly soils, but also in silty and loamy soils.

It can be grown in rock gardens and prefers sites with moist springs and drier winters. Prairie smoke tolerates summer sun and has low water needs.

Fun fact: Prairie smoke flowers are pollinated mainly by bumblebees. They have to force their way into the closed flowers to reach the nectar.

Antelope bitterbrush in bloom: Friday Flowers

Bitterbrush blossoms

Bitterbrush Blossoms in Central Oregon 9May2018

The antelope bitterbrush appears to be reaching for the sky in this photograph. This plant gets its common name due to the fact that it is so important to wildlife. Deer, elk, moose, mountain sheep, and pronghorn (antelope) browse on its small three-toothed leaves and use its dense growth for cover. It’s also important for deer mice, kangaroo rats, sage grouse, and Lewis’ woodpecker.

Mule Deer browsing on bitterbrush & sagebrush 9March2018I have seen plants over twelve feet tall but in my yard, they only reach a height of about three feet. My “landscapers” love to prune them. In certain parts of this plant’s range, bitterbrush can comprise up to 91% of mule deer’s diet in September.

Friday Flowers

All-time Favorites: WPC

The theme for the very last Weekly Photo Challenge was All-time Favorites. I’m late getting these up because my computer was in the shop and I was traveling. So without further ado…

North American River Otter 24Sept2016

North American river otter

All-time Favorite Critters

I have a lot of photos of animals so it’s hard to choose favorites but here goes. Here’s a handful for you.

All-time Favorite Landscapes & plants

This was even harder to narrow down! Here’s another handful.

All-time Favorite History Photos

And here’s a dash of history for good measure. Hope you enjoy them!

Final Weekly Photo Challenge – All-Time Favorites

Central Oregon Wildflower Show

The Central Oregon Wildflower Show is on hiatus in 2018 but the Native Plant Sale is taking place this weekend, June 9 and 10, at Sunriver Nature Center. Click on Sunriver Nature Center – Upcoming Special Events for more information. I am sharing an article I wrote last year about the show.

Wildflower Show at Sunriver Nature Center, Oregon 30 June 2017

Getting to know local flora at the Wildflower Show

Colorful examples of native plants drew crowds to the 29th annual Central Oregon Wildflower Show at Sunriver Nature Center on July 1-2, 2017. Participants could visit a room packed full with cuttings of plants, each of which were clearly labeled. Visitors could go on short staff-led wildflower hikes near the Nature Center to see some of the featured plants growing in the wild. Volunteers working at the event were ready to answer questions visitors might have.

Teams of volunteers headed out on the day before the show to collect wildflowers and other plants. They collected plant cuttings in the Cascade Mountains and near Metolious, Odell, and Crescent Lakes. They also collected specimens near Bend and eastwards into the Ochoco Mountains. Nearly 300 specimens were collected and identified for the wildflower show, the only event of this type in Central Oregon.

Up close and personal

If you’ve ever wondered what a particular plant was, this was a good place to find out. “Is that what balsamroot looks like?” I heard one visitor say. She was happy to put a “face” with that name. Seeing labeled plant cuttings of certain plants that are hard to identify, such as grasses, helped visitors figure out what they may have seen in the field.

There were cuttings from grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees at this show. Cuttings of the plants were neatly arranged in water-filled vases around the room. Many were in full bloom. Lavender-colored Mariposa lilies shared the room with scarlet red paintbrush, yellow Oregon sunshine, blue and purple showy penstemon, and delicate white queen’s-cup. It was interesting to see so many plants in one place and think about which types you might want to put in your own yard.

Going native with plants from the Wildflower Show

The Wildflower Show had a limited supply of native plants for sale that were provided by a local nursery. Planting your yard with low-water usage plants can not only help you spend less on your water bill, it can also ensure your plants grow well and attract butterflies, bees, and other wildlife.

Wildflower Show at Sunriver Nature Center,Oregon 30 June 2017

One of the most interesting displays at this show consisted of weeds that grow in the area. Yes, the Dalmatian toadflax plant is pretty with its snapdragon-like yellow flowers and interesting leaf structure. However, it can easily get out of control and push out native species. Knowing what some of these noxious weeds look like can make it easier for you to know what to pull in your yard. Here’s a link to a brochure that has pictures of some of the invasive weeds that grow locally. Noxious Weeds: Your Responsibility.

Wildflower Show 30June2017

Learning from our community

Booths representing several local groups were set up outside at this show. Local author, LeeAnn Kriegh, featured in the July 2017 High Desert Voices newsletter, was among them. Participants had many questions and the representatives from the different groups were very helpful in answering them.  There were several wildflower-related lectures at this show. Damian Fagan, of the High Desert Museum, gave a lecture about locations where you might find various wildflower species. Other lectures were about getting to know some of the state’s flora, native plant landscaping, and how to provide habitat for monarch butterflies.

If you are curious to learn more about native plant species, consider going to this show next year. It is small, but it’s jam-packed with helpful information. Proceeds from the native plant sale and admission benefit the non-profit Sunriver Nature Center.

Reprinted from the August 2017 issue of High Desert Voices – a newsletter by and for volunteers at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon.

Wild Rose: Friday Flowers

A moment with a rose

There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wild Rose 15May2018

I was fortunate to share a moment with a wild rose near Clarno, Oregon. It is beautiful and delicate when viewed close up.

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.

Alphonse Karr

Wild Rose 2 15May2018

Zooming out you can see how its blossoms and fruits are protected by sharp thorns. As you make your way through the thorns of life, keep looking forward towards the moments of peace offered by its flowers.

Spring lupine: Friday flowers

Blooming lupine amidst obsidian

Lupine plants were in full bloom on a recent trip I took to Glass Buttes, Oregon. They have beautiful flowers and a unique leaf form. The palmately divided leaves of lupine can have five to 28 leaflets. Water often funnels down the leaflets and collects at their base.

Lupine at Glass Buttes, Oregon 1May2018

Shooting Stars: Friday Flowers

“Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.”     Jeremy Bentham

Shooting Stars at Zion National Park, Utah 7May2017

Shooting Stars at Zion National Park, Utah

Purple penstemon: Flower Friday

The desert produces a profusion of colorful wildflowers at certain times of the year. Here is a stunning penstemon plant inside the Fort Rock volcanic tuff ring.

Purple Penstemon at Fort Rock, Oregon 10June2016

Sagebrush flowers: Friday Flowers

The blooms of sagebrush are not not big, showy, or colorful. Nonetheless, their muted colors and delicate blossoms exude a certain form of grace.

Sagebrush Flowers in Bend, Oregon 24August2016