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News, notes, trip reports, and the lighter side (of the wilder side) of the Oregon environmental and conservation movement.

Showing blog entries tagged as: Flora
Fall Color In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

Fall Color In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

Posted by Tommy Hough at Oct 21, 2013 10:05 AM |
Filed under: home Flora

Wendell Wood, preparing to lead his annual slate of fall mushroom hikes, checks in with a piece on autumn colors, and one particular dogwood responsible for some of the most impressive reds seen in the fall color spectrum.

By Wendell Wood

Much of our region's fall color comes from the yellow leaves of big leaf maple, while the orange and red comes courtesy of the vine maple. But some of Oregon's most spectacularly red leaves are also produced by the Pacific or Flowering Dogwood.

While most admire this tree's showy white blossoms in the spring, its red foliage in the fall can be equally spectacular. As fall proceeds this dogwood's heavy-veined, wavy-edged elliptical leaves turn a harmonious blend of plum, pink and reddish-purple shades.

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Wild Pacific Northwest: Huckleberries

Wild Pacific Northwest: Huckleberries

Guest blogger, scientist, and Oregon Wild supporter Ivan Phillipsen explores the natural wonders of Washington and Oregon.

Of all the plant species that produce edible berries in the Northwest – and there are quite a few – huckleberries have to be the most celebrated.

The abundant, delicious berries can be found in the Coast Range, Cascade Range, and Olympic Mountains in mid-summer through early autumn (in any given area, the timing of fruit production depends on the species, elevation, and other environmental factors).

Huckleberries are also called blueberries or bilberries, depending on who you ask. Common names aside, the ten or so species in the Pacific Northwest are unarguably all in the genus Vaccinium.

One reason huckleberries are well-known and loved is that they grow where people like to hike. These plants are most common in moist forests and clearings at higher elevations. Hikers and backpackers browse on trailside berries in the mountains during late summer. This is also the season when, as luck would have it, the mosquito swarms have finally and mercifully died off for the year, making hiking and lazy berry-picking all the more enjoyable.

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Wild Pacific Northwest: Ecoregions of Oregon

Wild Pacific Northwest: Ecoregions of Oregon

Guest blogger, scientist, and Oregon Wild supporter Ivan Phillipsen explores the natural wonders of Washington and Oregon.

By Ivan Phillipsen

Vast expanses of coniferous forest are a distinguishing feature of Oregon's natural environment. But this state contains a remarkable diversity of ecosystems besides the dense, rain-soaked forests of the Coast Range and Cascades. There are deserts here too – as well as alpine meadows, grasslands, oak woodlands, coastal sand dunes, deep canyons, huge wetlands, and barren mountain peaks ringed by glacial ice. Oregon is truly a wonderland of geological and ecological marvels.

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Wendell's Wildflower Hike Field Notes

Wendell's Wildflower Hike Field Notes

May has been sunny and dry so far in Oregon, and the Columbia River Gorge was the place to be the first week of the month during Wendell's annual spring wildflower outings.

Hiking season has returned to Oregon, and that means you'll find Oregon Wild on the trail leading hikes and treks throughout the state.

Other than the annual Wolf Rendezvous, few hikes this time of year are more popular than Wildlands Interpreter Wendell Wood's mid-spring wildflower hikes into the Columbia River Gorge.

Here are a few of Wendell's notes from his early May outings, followed by some spectacular photos from Oregon Wild fans and hike attendees. Thanks for the pictures!

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Wild Pacific Northwest: Sword Fern

Wild Pacific Northwest: Sword Fern

Posted by Ivan Phillipsen at Dec 03, 2012 03:36 PM |

Guest blogger, scientist, and Oregon Wild supporter Ivan Phillipsen explores the natural wonders of Washington and Oregon.

Deciduous trees and shrubs in the Northwest shed their leaves by early December. At this time of year, our low-elevation forests are looking much more twiggy and less leafy than they do in the summer. But there is still plenty of green – the Douglas firs, Western hemlocks, and other conifers keep their foliage year round.

But the real stars of the forest during the dark, wet months of winter are the mosses and evergreen ferns. This is as good a season as any to get familiar with these primitive, fascinating plants.

The unrivaled king of ferns on the west coast is the Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum). If a northwestern kid knows the name of only one fern, it's probably this one.

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Wildflower of the Week - Fallen Stars

Wildflower of the Week - Fallen Stars

Posted by Wendell Wood at Sep 13, 2012 09:00 AM |
Filed under: Flora

A “star” that really is no longer.

Oregon White-topped Aster, Aster [Sericocarpus] oregonensis

As late summer begins to advance into fall, one of the most commonly seen wildflowers of the season is the late-blooming Aster. Members of the Sunflower Family, Asteraceae, the Greek word “aster” means “star” in reference to its supposedly star-like flowers.

Of the many Aster species we could choose from, (being partial to Oregon) we’ve picked this one as the week’s featured species somewhat arbitrarily, due to its specific epithet being “oregonensis.” The Latin suffix “ensis” means “pertaining to” or “originating in.” This species is found at various scattered, but drier, locations throughout western Oregon.

For those that love late summer and early fall’s wild asters, you may be disappointed to learn that technically North America (including Oregon) no longer has any “true” Asters!

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Wildflower of the Week - a plant with no name

Wildflower of the Week - a plant with no name

Posted by Wendell Wood at Sep 06, 2012 09:00 AM |
Filed under: Flora

This unassuming nymph of a plant has no common name.

Lilaeopsis occidentalis

Lilaeopsis occidentalis, otherwise known as Western Lilaeopsis, has no special common name - as the common observer may never see its delicately arranged, tiny flowers, or give it much notice at all. Thus, while little noticed or appreciated, I considered it to be a special nymph of streams and other wetland places, where I always greet its unexpected discovery with special warmth and delight!

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Wildflower of the Week - True or False

Wildflower of the Week - True or False

Posted by Wendell Wood at Aug 27, 2012 03:32 PM |
Filed under: Flora

Either way you slice it, these plants are definitely poisonous.

False Hellebore, Veratrum californicum var. californicum

Veratrum, Corn Lily, or False Hellebore is a two-meter-tall perennial that grows in swamps, wet meadows, and sometimes moist woodlands from low elevations to subalpine zones. It is found in Washington State as well as Oregon (and California as its species’ epithet obviously indicates).

Oregon has three species of Veratrum. Our featured species here, Veraturm californicum, additionally has two recognized varieties. Predominantly found in northwestern Oregon, Veratrum californicum “var. caudatum” (not pictured here) has a cluster of flowers on stalks that are branched from the main stalk of the inflorescence, from the bottom clear to the top. However, variety californicum, (while branched below) has only a single uppermost, unbranched flowering stalk. This is the variety of V. californicum that predominates east of the Cascades. The flowers and plants pictured here are of this variety from the Ochoco National Forest.

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Wildflower of the Week - angels in the streamsides

Wildflower of the Week - angels in the streamsides

Posted by Wendell Wood at Aug 15, 2012 01:26 PM |
Filed under: Flora

This smelly member of the carrot family was once believed to have great medicinal powers.

Canby's Angelica, Angelica canbyi

Angelica is a fairly tall and robust member of the carrot family and, in addition to its larger, huskier size, is recognizable by this plant family’s characteristic umbel (or umbrella) like inflorescence, where all of the flowers are born on small stalks (pedicels) that all radiate out from a central point.

Our feature species here, photographed on the edge of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness near John Day, Oregon, was named for American Botanist William Marriott Canby (1831-1904). In the late 19th century, Canby amassed a personal herbarium of 30,000 plants, and also accompanied Sierra Club founder John Muir on trips to the Appalachian Mountains and Alaska. 

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Wildflower of the Week - all fired up

Wildflower of the Week - all fired up

Posted by Wendell Wood at Aug 05, 2012 09:00 AM |
Filed under: Flora

Like the phoenix, this pioneer plant rises through the ashes.

Fireweed, Chamerionangustifolium var. canescens

Formerly called Epilobiumangustifolium, Fireweed is now placed in the genus Chamerion. Fireweed is also in the Evening Primrose Family, as was our previously featured wildflower species, Clarkia amoena, Farewell-to-Spring or Summer’s Darling. Like Clarkia, Fireweed’s flower parts are similarly arranged in orders of 4, with its sepals and petals attached above the flower’s ovary. Its former scientific name, “Epilobium,” remains the name of a group of generally smaller flowers called “Willow Herbs” and means “upon on pod.” This is in reference to the sepal and petal attachment above what becomes the seed pod in the mature flower. When this seed pod matures it splits apart, and hundreds of small seeds fastened to thin tufts of white, cotton-like threads are dispersed by the wind.

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