Any concerns about wildflower season being over disappeared when we arrived at the hillside meadows on Mt. Ashland. Our first stop was on Forest Service Road#20 at a seeping spring before Grouse Gap. We identified 20 different species within minutes as Rich worked frantically to record all the species. Monk’s hood, bog orchids, leopard lilies, Oregon checkerblooms were standouts. A new wildflower for us was the western false asphodel, close by to a similar bistort white flower. The asphodel is a carnivorous plant and Nancy showed us the sticky stem. Tiny flies get caught on the stem, which contains a digestive enzyme.
Next, the 11 of us, parked at the Grouse Gap crossroad and walked on the PCT downhill towards Canada. Sunny was excited to see flowering corn lilies and Elisabeth spotted her favorite scarlet gilias. The yellow sneezeweeds, angelica, and cow parsnips were abundant.
Some of the manzanitas were covered with what we at first thought were red berries. However, we discovered that these are red galls caused by manzanita leaf gall aphids. Continuing along the PCT into the wetter areas, we were surrounded by tower delphiniums – the signature plant of the Mt. Ashland Flower Bowl.
Kate noted the brilliant color combination of the purple delphiniums and many orange leopard lilies. One last unusual wildflower was the green corn lily that Kate and Gaylene identified in wooded, shaded areas.
Overall, we observed 42 flowering species. This was a 3-mile roundtrip walk with the most wildflowers any of us had observed on the Grouse Gap PCT this year.
Kay, Rich and Nancy