Botanizing at Poker Flat by Chelsea Reha

Poker Flat botanizers

The SFI “Crash Course” botanizers at Poker Flat. Photo by Chelsea Reha.

Poker Flat botanizing 2“Advanced Plant ID Crash Course” at Poker Flat” with Linda Ann Vorobik was a relaxing and educational three days of botanizing at Poker Flat, as well as at the Siskiyou Field Institute’s beautiful Deer Creek Center. Our small class size made it possible for Linda to address everyone’s questions and
comments as we worked. Her botanical artwork was a wonderful and unexpected bonus.

The course began with a lesson in plant anatomy and terminology, complete with excellent handouts featuring Linda’s detailed illustrations. Featured plant families of the course were Cyperaceae, Asteraceae, Juncaceae, and Poaceae. They are all challenging families with specially modified anatomy and unique terminology. Although it was late in the season, we found plenty of plants to key along Deer Creek and in the adjacent fen. Among the many things that we identified from Deer Creek Center were Glyceria grandis, Panicum acuminatum, Carex mendocinensis, Carex nudata, Juncus orthophyllus, Juncus xiphioides, and Deschampsia cespitosa; all common and lovely native plants of Selma.

Poker Flat students

Class members trying to identify a sedge with instructor Linda Vorobik (second from left). Photo by Chelsea Reha.

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Lilium pardalinum wigginsii and pollinator friend photographed by Linda Vorobik.

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Carex amplifolia at Poker Flat. Photo by Linda Vorobik.

Botanizing at Poker Flat  was naturally the highlight of the course. Poker Flat is a 25-acre meadow located just north of the Siskiyou Wilderness at about 5500 ft. elevation. It is very plant-diverse and rich in native flora. As we wandered through the meadow, Linda pointed out plants that we collected or jotted down on our species lists. I was very impressed with Linda’s knowledge as well as the enthusiasm of the class. Botanizing with other plant lovers is awesome! We identified dozens of species from Poker Flat and the surrounding area. We encountered many native Carex, Juncus,

and Luzula species as well as many native members of the family Poaceae such as Danthonia californica, Hordeum brachyantherum, Elymus elymiodes, Elymus glaucus, and Phleum alpinum.

This was a great class and I look forward to more classes from Linda Vorobik and from the Siskiyou Field Institute.Taking this course expanded my botanical knowledge as well as my appreciation of the Siskiyou Field Institute and the enthusiastic students and educators that the institute draws to our unique region. As a resident of Selma, I feel so fortunate to have this resource in my backyard. Thank you to everyone who has contributed whether as an educator, student, board member, volunteer, etc. May the Siskiyou Field Institute have continued success in the beautiful Illinois Valley!

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July 2014 Dragonflies in Josephine County

This past weekend, Dave and I taught a 2-day workshop on “Dragonflies in the State of Jefferson” offered through Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma, Josephine County, Oregon. Day 1 was our usual Introduction to Dragonflies, and Day 2 was our only “Intermediate” level class. In the Intermediate class, we go to rivers and a high mountain lake.

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This racer snake is visibly digesting a recent meal.

We visited 4 sites over the 2 days; the wind on the first day was in our favor while we were at Lake Selmac. Not only did it keep us cooler, it caused many Odes to perch in the nearby willows. This lake has an abundance of skimmers, esp. Widow and Eight-spotted, and also many Common Whitetails. Almost totally lacking were any Damselflies and the Meadowhawks. Temperatures ranged from 82 to 96 degrees during the day.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer

IMG_1785vIn fact, Meadowhawks were extremely scarce the whole weekend….maybe 4 individuals seen in total. In past years we’ve found 35 species including 5 kinds of Meadowhawks. I wonder why they were ‘no-shows’ this year?

After a classroom session on Sunday morning, including an hour on dragonfly migration by Celeste Mazzacano who’d JUST returned from Mexico, we ventured out to the Forks of the Illinois State Park, then on to a small pond at an old mine site, followed by our drive up to Bolan Lake at ~6000′ elevation in the Siskiyou Mountains. Temperatures this day ranged the high of 95F when we left the Forks of the Illinois, to 76F at Bolan Lake.

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Yellow-legged frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a list of the species that at least one of us saw:

Key:

Day 1 – S=Lake Selmac; D=Deer Creek & Darlingtonia fen (both in Selma, OR)

Day 2 – I=Forks of the Illinois Rv SP (Cave Junction); W=”Waldo” pond, west side of road at Waldo Mine site; B=Bolan Lake (both accessed from the road into Happy Camp, CA)

River Jewelwing – I
Northern Spreadwing – W
California Dancer – D, I
Emma’s Dancer – D, I
Sooty Dancer – D, I
Vivid Dancer – D, I
Boreal Bluet – S, B
Pacific Forktail – S
Western Forktail – I, S
Black Petaltail (dead) – B
Shadow Darner – B (in-hand)
Common Green Darner – S, B
Blue-eyed Darner ? – S
Bison Snaketail – D, I
Western River Cruiser ? – I
Pacific Spiketail ? – D
American Emerald – B
Western Pondhawk – S, I, W
Chalk-fronted Corporal – B
Eight-spotted Skimmer – S, I, W
Widow Skimmer – S
Twelve-spotted Skimmer – S
Four-spotted Skimmer – B
Flame Skimmer – I, B
Blue Dasher – S, W
Common Whitetail – S, I, W
Variegated Meadowhawk – S, W
Cardinal Meadowhawk – S
Black Saddlebags – S

We’re hoping to hear reports from several new Oregon and Washington Dragonfly enthusiasts now here on this discussion group!!

Special thanks to Day 2 participants Gary Shaffer, Norm Barrett and Celeste Mazzacano who helped with finding odes and identifications.

IMG_1782DragonflyGroupCeleste also gave a presentation about the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership sponsored by the Xerces Society.

Cheers!!

Kathy & Dave Biggs

The Biggs

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Field Sketching by Mary Raby

Just wanted to share some of my pictures from the field sketching class taught by Linda Vorobik. The class was fun, relaxed, and inspiring. I learned about plant identification and botany — this was my goal but I was pleasantly surprised to also get an art class complete with field sessions and helpful critiques. Thank you, Siskiyou Field Institute, for such quality learning in such a beautiful setting.

– Mary Raby

Vancouveria by MR

Vancouveria hexandra, the inside-out flower.

Darlingtonia

A darlingtonia photographed by Mary Raby.

 

 

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Mary sketching beside a stream outside O’Brien.

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Some of the sketch-worthy forms we saw in the field included a convolvulus

 

 

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a lomatium, or desert parsley,

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a sedum

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and the colorful leaf bracts of an Indian paintbrush.

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Siskiyou Mountains and Streams: A July Class with a View by Paula Springhart

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SFI’s Siskiyou Mountains and Streams class started with a moderate 6 mile hike of about 600 ft. elevation gain and a 360 degree view once we reached the top of Mt. Elijah.

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We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day and a more stimulating and diverse experience.  The class involved birding, botanizing and stream-and-fish ecology, presented by expert naturalist, Rich Nawa.  Oh, and did I mention the evening private tour of the caves by mystic storyteller, John Roth?

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Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)

Even though it was near the end of the season for most blooms, the higher elevation Bigelow Lake meadows  were awash with hundreds of red and yellow flowers (Scarlet Paint Brush and Bigelow Sneezeweed).  Also there was a sighting of Washington Lily, a bloom that perfumed the air with  gorgeous fragrance.

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Washington or Cascade Lily (Lilium washingtonianum)

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California corn lily (Veratrum californicum).

The first evening of this two-day class, we all gathered at the Oregon Caves Chateau for a sumptuous dinner.  It was here that I started paying attention to the layout of the Monument buildings, pathways, and the Chateau itself. They were so cleverly and expertly designed to almost seamlessly wed wilderness, comfort and ease.   It is a tribute to the many people, Civilian Construction Corps, architects and contractors that their craftsmanship, care and commitment still remains for us to enjoy.

ImageStudent Ron Johnson at Bigelow Lake, abundant with Spatterdock (Nuphar polysepala).

CA Sister on Spruce - Mt Elijah

California Sister butterfly aboard a spruce on the Mt. Elijah trail.

The second day was full of cool splashing waters and tall shade giving trees.  We descended to Caves Creek behind the chateau, viewed aquatic insects on the undersides of submerged rocks, viewed aquatic insects on the undersides of submerged rocks, viewed and learned to identify rainbow fry from salmon fry by looking at them from the banks of the creeks using binoculars.  Enjoyed the trail along Grayback and concluded at the historic Grayback campground.

Photos from left: Base of glass canning jar imbedded in pillar of foot bridge, along Caves Creek trail; hikers headed for Bigelow Lake; student Kathy Mechling standing by Big Tree; a gold variant of Castilleja; Alice Eastwood erigeron (Erigeron aliciae) formed cheerful throngs along the woodland and meadow trails.

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State of Jefferson Dragonflies by Kathy and Dave Biggs

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Photo of Kathy Biggs and students by Dave Biggs.

Introduction to State of Jefferson Dragonflies

We taught a 2 day workshop at the Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma, OR. The first day we teach a ‘beginner’s’ class and take the folks to Lake Selmac to see the Skimmers, a few darners and some pond damsels. This lake is Ode-intense….I’ve NEVER seen more Widow Skimmers anywhere. They flew all about us, in-wheel, in-tandem, in pursuit, in battle, in all, great!! The Autumn Meadowhawk was a first for the workshop.

Eight-spotted Skimmer

Eight-spotted Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

Our species list, all seen at Lake Selmac, except for those marked as occurring on Deer Creek and the Darlingtonia Fen behind it.

Autumn Meadowhawk, first sighting at Lake Selmac. Photo by Dave Biggs.

Autumn Meadowhawk, (teneral female) first sighting at Lake Selmac. Photo by Norman Barrett.

Lake Selmac species list, July 27

Grappletail, Deer Creek fen
 W. Pondhawk
8-spot Skimmer
Widow Skimmer
Flame Skimmer

 Blue Dasher
 Co. Whitetail Cardinal Meadowhawk
AUTUMN Meadowhawk, one teneral female, photos taken
Black Saddlebags, ‘tramea dance’ observed
Emma’s Dancer, Deer Creek
Sooty Dancer, Deer Creek
Tule Bluet
W. Forktail
Pacific Forktail
C. Green Darner

Intermediate Dragonflies

The 2nd day of our Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma, OR. we teach an ‘intermediate” class and then take the folks to Forks of the Illinois River State Park where we walk up the river in hopes of finding River Jewelwings and then search the rocky shoreline for Clubtails. This year we saw no Jewelwings as we walked up river to the small backwater area where they are usually the thickest….had just apologized to the group for probably arriving too late this season, when a bunch of females and one male showed up. Yey!!
At Lake Bolan, 5440′, we found thousands of bluets, every grass blade had one! …plus those in flight.

Species list for Forks State Park and Bolan Lake July 28th

Key:
I=Forks of the Illinois Rv.
B=Bolan Lake
D=Deer Creek

River Jewelwing – I, 5 f,1m
Emma’s Dancer – D, ~6
California Dancer – I, assumed this species, several
Sooty Dancer – I, several dozen; D, half dozen
Vivid Dancer – I, a few
No/Bo Bluet – B. abundant – both species have been recorded here before
Pacific Forktail I, a few m&F
Western Forktail- I, 1m & 1 f
Shadow Darner – B, 4 in-hand, more present, assumed this species
Common Green Darner – a male in flight
Pacific Clubtail – I (possibly this species photographed, awaiting Alan’s photos)
Bison Snaketail – I, ~10, including some males and females in-hand
Pacific Spiketail/Western River Cruiser -I,  possibly both species seen, but only from a distance
American Emerald – B, one female in hand. Other Emeralds over the lake assumed to be this species.
Eight-spotted Skimmer – I, 4-6 males
Four-spotted Skimmer – B, 1 male in-hand
Flame Skimmer – I, 2 males
Variegated Meadowhawk – I, 1 female photographed

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Female bison snaketail photographed by Dave Biggs.

Male Bison Snaketail photographed at Forks State Park, Illinois River

Male Bison Snaketail photographed at Forks State Park, Illinois River

Other dragonfly photos by student Alan Harper (Shown photographing horizontally below): http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanharper/sets/72157634868633220/

Norm Barrett

Dragonfly hunter Norman Barrett examines a netted species.

Class best Intermediate Dragonflies class on the lookout in Bolan Lake.
Photo by Daniel Newberry.
Dflies Class Biggs
Intermediate class at the Illinois River.
Photo by Dave Biggs.
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Botanizing Whetstone Butte by Christine Yee and Jon Carlson, CH

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Whetstone Butte landscape. Photo by Kathleen Pyle.

Botanizing Whetstone Butte with botanist Cecile Shohet was my first class at the Siskiyou Field Institute.  She was assisted by special guest field guide, geologist John Roth, who held the back end of our hefty class of 25 along the single trails.

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Botanist Cecile Shohet. Photo by Christine Yee.

Though we had two expert leaders, I was also impressed by how much knowledge there was within the class.  Among us, there seemed to be many people with much information to share – professional geologists, environmental studies students, bird lovers, and veterans of SFI.  My background is in herbal medicine, and I was eager to explore the landscape from the perspective of a botanist and geologist.

 Herbalists don’t tend to focus much on serpentine plants because of the toxicity of the soil.  While serpentine plants may not make good medicine for people, they are incredibly unique in their own right; they have found a way to thrive in an environment that is unfertile and has high concentrations of heavy metals.  Some species we saw, like Ceanothus spp., actually improve the soil by making nitrogen more available.  Other species evolved with lots of hair on their leaves and stems to retain more moisture.

It was also impressed upon me that the Klamath Siskiyou bioregion is unique this area never fully glaciated.  Consequently, there are paleo-ancient plant species that you can’t find in many other places, like Solider’s Oak (Quercus sadleriana). 

 Because of the Biscuit Fire in 2002, we were also able to see some unique species that sprouted after the fire, like the Knobcone Pine (Pinus attenuata), which spreads its seeds only through fire. 

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Knobcone pine. Photo by Christine Yee.

 The class was amazing, though the most memorable part of the class for me was being at SFI for the first time and staying on the grounds at Deer Creek.  The facilities are really comfortable, the land is so beautiful and well maintained, and the water in the creek is so clear.  I can’t wait to take another class and another opportunity to jump in creek!

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Stream orchids at Deer Creek. Photo by Christine Yee.

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Observations on Botanizing Whetstone Butte

By Jon Carlson, CH

As an herbalist and teacher of field botany residing in southwest Oregon I have spent many hundreds of hours exploring this region, though it was not until I attended Cecile’s lecture on serpentine ecosystems and the hike on Whetstone butte that I fully appreciated the uniqueness and diversity of these areas.  Between expanding my knowledge of serpentine geology and the selective pressures that gave rise to the multitude of endemic plant species in serpentine regions, I find myself with a deeper appreciation of these unique ecosystems.

Experiencing the diversity of all uniquely adapted serpentine plants against the starkly beautiful backdrop of whetstone butte was powerful!  Of particular note for me, was seeing the transition zone part way up the mountain where the serpentine soil began, as well as seeing a the Siskiyou Fritillaria and a rare Saxifage family plant nestled in the rocks on the mountain top.

 The Siskiyou Field Institute deserves special acknowledgement for their wonderful array of educational offerings in the areas of botany, geology, natural history, and conservation. 

 

 

 

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Little Climate Change on the Prairie

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by Daniel Newberry, SFI Executive Director

If you’ve been out to Deer Creek Center in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the fenced area the size of a house filled with sprinklers and heat lamps. It sits in the pasture next to the gravel road shortly after you turn off Illinois River Road.  This enclosure is one of three facilities in the Pacific Northwest that comprise a study designed by ecologists Scott Bridgham and Bart Johnson of the University of Oregon.

Their research is attempting to answer two questions: How will climate change affect native plants in imperiled prairie ecosystems?  How certain restoration practices might be in protecting these ecosystems as climate change progresses?

To answer these questions, these scientists have established three research locations:  Deer Creek Center in southern Oregon, and on preserves managed by The Nature Conservancy near Eugene and in western Washington.  In each of the three enclosures are a series of treatment and control plots.  In the treatment plots are either heat lamps, sprinklers, or lamps and sprinklers.  The purpose of this hardware is to simulate the warmer and wetter conditions predicted for the Pacific Northwest.  The rate of plant growth in the plots helps determine how the plants are likely to fare under climate change.

We managed to catch up with Scott Bridgham by phone earlier this week.  He and Bart Johnson are currently writing up the results from the initial phase of their research.

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SFI: Why the focus on prairie ecosystems?

Bridgham: Grasslands and associated open areas—which would include things like oak savannah—were (once) a predominant habitat type from southwestern Washington south of Seattle all the way down into Northern California. Many of those open ecosystems have been lost, depending on how you define them, only 1 to 10% of them are left, so they’re considered one of the more imperiled ecosystems in the U.S.  The reasons for loss have been myriad, some of which have been due to development and agriculture but one of the biggest ones of them have been succession to denser forest, often Douglas fir due to reduction in fire frequency with Euro-American settlement. They harbor many species, a few are rare and endangered species.  Another problem in these ecosystems which is true in this part of the world and around the world, is the effect of invasive species in the native communities.

SFI: What types of plants are you studying?

Bridgham: They’re species that are range-limited to somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, sort of on this side of the Cascades. They include grasses and forbs, perennials and annuals, so a pretty big distribution of species with different life history traits… From a larger perspective this should be a pretty representative group of species that would occur in grasslands.

SFI: So you’re looking at what happens when the temperature increases by 3 degrees Celcius and with an increase in 20% of the intensity of precipitation, both of which are what some climate change models are predicting for the Pacific Northwest.  What have you found so far?

Bridgham: The precipitation treatments have had very little effect in everything we’ve looked at, which makes for a short story.  The warming is much more interesting.  Much of its effect is actually in drying the soils .

What we found is, interestingly, not species-dependent, which is—I was surprised—that the species with warming (treatments) do poorer in their current range, even if it’s at the northern edge of their current range.  If we move them beyond their current range, they do fine or even better than they would have done further south in their range. It’s kind of what you’d expect but no one has ever done this experimentally, to my knowledge.

SFI: So if these native plants can migrate northward as the climate warms, they’ll survive?

Bridgham: The conundrum is, they’ve got to get there in a highly fractured landscape, because there are only islands of appropriate habitat that are, these days, very far apart.

SFI: In your study, you’re also looking at restoration techniques aimed at helping these vulnerable native plants, primarily against the exotics.

Bridgham: We knocked back the vegetation that was in the plots, which is primarily exotic species in all three sites… then we put in a broad suite of native species, around 30 total, so many more than just the range-limited species. Then they grew up and we had things that came out of the seed bank and they often were exotic species but whatever was in the seed bank, and we let them duke it out.”

It seems like the exotic species do better in the warmed plots—which is not good. So there’s a pretty strong suggestion that with climate change these grasslands are going to be dominated more by these annual exotics versus a mix of perennial natives and exotics, which would be a pretty major change in plant functional group which has lots of implications.

SFI: You mentioned that Oregon’s grasslands have been dominated, historically, by perennials.

Bridgham: They were dominated by perennial native bunchgrasses.  But when California was colonized way back when by the Europeans, they quickly introduced exotic grasses, so they have (now) been there for a very long time, and all their grasslands have pretty much dominated by annual exotic species with very few exceptions.

SFI: So it’s not just people who are moving from California to Oregon!  How are these exotics taking over? What’s happening, as it were, on the ground?

Bridgham: Perennial plants and the annual plants, they have very different phenologies of how long they stay green, when they fruit. If there are closely evolutionary coupled cycles between species and their pollinators, then that can certainly be disrupted.

SFI: Take us forward 50 years.  You told me that perhaps 99% of the people may not be able to tell the difference between the current perennial-dominated Oregon grasslands and the exotic-dominated grasslands that may be here in the future.

Bridgham: There are a lot of reasons that people give why you should protect biodiversity but it comes down, for me, to an ethical question: do we as humans have the right to decimate native fauna and flora?

SFI: So climate change, at least in grasslands in our area, is likely to cause a loss in biodiversity?

Bridgham: Yes.

Scott Bridgham is a professor at the University of Oregon’s Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

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