Saturday, May 28, 2011

More from the "Old Highway"

Considering the amount and frequency of rain and snow this spring, it was a pleasure to find so many new species blooming during my drive home from Greenville. The top photo is of False Solomon's Seal. There is a large patch of these just up the hill, driving South, from the turnoff to the Keddie Cascades Trail. There's also a lot of Red Larkspur (Delphinium) both before and ofter this point on the Old Highway. The Red Larkspur is a good indicator of where we are in the progression called spring. Sensitive to local conditions of light, moisture, and who knows what else, the first blooms in one place might be a month or more ahead of first blooms in another nearby place. The ones in a certain favorite spot of mine along Highway 89, north of Indian Falls, are already wilted and going to seed, while those on Old Highway are just now blooming. The third photo from the top is of a thistle that soon will sport a bright red inflorescence. While the spines are menacing, I think the overall plant is quite beautiful. When the bloom erupts, it'll definitely catch your eye. Unfortunately, it's on a cliff by the highway in a place that is not safe to stop.
The white flower in the next photo is Woodland Star, a member of the Saxifrage family. This is growing on the small cliff just up hill from the Solomon's Seals. A good place to stop, there are many species blooming here, as the next photo shows, with Wild Irises the most noticeable.
After the Irises, we have the delicate Pacific Starflower which is blooming under the pines in many places between 3,000' and 4,000' elevation. Last, I found a cluster of Gooseberries in this same spot. The Old Highway is a great place for wildflower viewing because there is very little traffic - there was none on my pass through on Friday - and there are many safe turnouts. Be sure to get out and walk, especially a few dozen yards away from the road. You'll definitely find items of interest.

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