Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Orchid Hunting in the Siskiyous

July 9-12 was our big trip for the summer; down along the Oregon coast, into northern California to see the Redwoods and a day in the Siskiyou Mountains of northern California and southern Oregon for some orchid hunting, though we were also looking for Cobra Lilies and other wildflowers that we had not seen before.

The Siskiyous are part of the Klamath Mountains and are a  wonderful area with a unique flora that is due to its serpentine outcrops and soils rich in magnesium, nickel and chromium.  We spent a day in them and most of the day exploring the Knopki Creek Road in northern California looking for orchids there.

The Siskiyous

We drove nearly 20 miles in on forest service roads, many of them very rough, but found all that we were looking for and more, including two orchid species that we had not seen before, one the strikingly beautiful California Lady's Slipper and the other the rather prosaic Few-flowered Rein Orchis with its small green flowers.

California Lady's Slippers in situ

California Lady's Slippers

Few-flowered Rein Orchis

Few-flowered Rein Orchis and Cobra Lilies

These two orchids are often found in serpentine areas, the Lady's Slipper exclusively in such areas, and are often associated with the Cobra Lily, a carnivorous plant.  We found all three growing together in several different places and spent hours enjoying and photographing them, but they were not all we found.  Here the Cobra Lilies were in still in bloom.

Unidentified Butterfly on Cobra Lily Flower

Cobra Lily bloom

Cobra Lily and Flower

Exposed Serpentine

We enjoyed the scenery high up in these backcountry areas and found numerous other wildflowers and one other orchid as well.  On a shady bank not long into our explorations we found a few Phantom Orchids still blooming and with them a very beautiful pink lily that turned out to be the rare Kellogg's Lily.

Phantom Orchid

The Siskiyous

Unidentified Mountain Lake

We also found the Siskiyou Iris on a wet area almost entirely free of other vegetation, the Western Azalea, something I have tentatively identified as Tall Bugbane, and many other more familiar wildflowers.  The weather was sunny and warm and the day's explorations will live in our memory for a long time to come.

Kellogg's Lily

Tall Bugbane and Western Azalea

Siskiyou Iris

Sitka Columbine

Cardwell's Penstemon and Mountain Bells

Harsh Paintbrush

Finished there we visited two other sites, one near Whiskey Creek on the Lone Mountain Road.  There we saw thousands of Cobra Lilies along the creek and in boggy areas near the road.  Along with them we found more of the Few-flowered Rein Orchis, the local Tiger Lily and plenty other wildflowers.

Cobra Lilies along Whiskey Creek

Cobra Lilies and Few-flowered Rein Orchis

Cobra Lilies

Whiskey Creek and Cobra Lily

Vollmer's Tiger Lily (Leopard Lily)

 Vollmer's Tiger Lily and Crab Spider

Waxy  or California Coneflower

Further on we visited a site along the Rouge River where we found two orchids, one we were looking for and another we did not expect to find.  We had been told about the Stream Orchid but found the Western Ladies' Tresses growing there also, an orchid we had seen only once before in the Columbia gorge.

Cobra Lilies along the road

Rogue River

Yours Truly photographing Stream Orchids

Western Ladies' Tresses and Stream Orchids

Stream Orchids or Chatterboxes

Unidentified Wildflower and Western Ladies' Tresses

 Finished with our exploring and photography (my wife gave up on the photography long before I did), we were hot and sweaty. The day had been sunny and very warm and we finished with a swim in the river before going on to find a place to spend the night.  The river was not very deep and felt cool and refreshing after the day's activities.

Rogue River

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