04-16-19: Scouting at Glacial Heritage 

Field Report by David Hepp

The group spent the entire day exploring areas at Glacial Heritage Preserve. We started in the Deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) swale, a location that had been off limits for several years due to Taylor’s Checkerspot butterfly reintroduction. The walk continued in a long loop to the north-northwest, then back to the cars. In and near the first swale we found in bloom or bud: hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta), Pacific woodrush (Luzula comosa var. laxa), Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis), spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum), swamp saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia),  common camas (camassia quamash), field chickweed (Cerastium arvense spp. strictum), Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginana), and early blue violet (Viola adunca). Patches of mixed Collinsia species were marked. To the northwest, more Collinsia was widespread, along with possibly collectible amounts of Sea thrift (Armeria maritima) still in bud.

Orobanche uniflora (D. Husband) One swale featured a good population of naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora) just starting to bloom; A later look at the traditional location for this plant near the five-way intersection yielded nothing. The deep swale with the doug fir snags has a very thick population of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) just coming up, but the leftover seed stems are everywhere. Meredith plans to return for some pictures of the swale in bloom. Bob B. and David flushed up a very nearby meadowlark and found the nest tucked under a mound of dead bracken- a first for us all. A couple of data points for blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense) were tracked, but no signs of emerging plants were seen. The return leg of the trip tip-toed through large plantings of golden paintbrush (Castilleja levisecta), a few already in bloom, mostly still in early emergence.

Meadowlark eggs (S. Richard) After lunch, the group headed to the oak grove near the road in the NE area. We all were surprised to find several of the oaks dead, obviously not a recent happening since the bark was falling off and the tops broken out…but what’s happened here? We settled in for a while to compare the two Collinsia looking closely at the difference in angle at the base of the corolla (petals of the flower). We stopped at the 2018 burn, which appears to have been largely ineffective at bringing back some of our common prairie plants. We returned to our start point and marked some patches of Collinsia with colored golf tees distinguishing the two species for later examination so we can distinguish the two in seed stage.

(D. Hepp)


04-09-2019: The Team Reunites on Base

Field Report by David Hepp

The inaugural 2019 CNLM Wild Seed Collection outing turned out to be a bit premature to find the priority species. It did prove useful to check our data collection procedures and refresh our visual memories before the season gets busier.

The entire returning team from last year, with the exception of the Pedricks, met at the Lower Weir parking area. In addition, AmeriCorps Savannah Richard and Danielle Husband from CNLM attended. We met Sarah Krock, JBLM Fish and Wildlife, who reviewed protocols for working on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) properties. She also asked that we keep an eye out for Ceanothus sanguineus or Redstem ceanothus. A sample was collected on JBLM years ago, and the teams on base have yet to relocate it.

Henderson's shooting star (D. Husband)The first area we sampled was the SW corner of Lower Weir prairie, which was burned last year in 2018. The most diverse area we looked at was along the slope from the upper terrace and toe. Even pre-burn, this area has proven fairly diverse. In bloom: Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis), Pacific woodrush (Luzula comosa var. laxa; in collectible quantities) and miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata).  Chocolate lily (Fritillaria lanceolata) was abundant and budding. Further out on the lower flats we found blooming Spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum), Pacific woodrush (Luzula comosa var. laxa) and Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum var. leucophyllum).

Chocolate lily (D. Husband)

The group then transferred to Johnson Prairie. We had lunch hunkered down in the stiff breeze, but the day stayed dry. We then walked through the 2018 burn along the western edge of the prairie. Parts of this were clearly reseeded with Collinsia spp. in abundance. Other areas appeared to have been left unseeded. We found spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum), canary violet (Viola praemorsa), Henderson’s shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii) and Pacific woodrush (Luzula comosa var. laxa) in bloom. We also noted good quantities of early blue violet (Viola adunca), Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginana), lupine, Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and cutleaf microseris (Microseris laciniata spp. Lanciniata) emerging. Indian lettuce (Claytonia parviflora) was found on the fresh burned slope, studied, collected and photographed. Marion and I walked north into the lower bowl which we last sampled in 2014. At that time it had abundant reseeded early blue violet (Viola adunca) and assorted interesting forest edge species. Since, additional forest had been cleared and the area has largely reverted to broom and grasses. One blooming snow-queen (Synthyris reniformis) was seen.

Canary violet (D. Husband)



Our final wild collection occurred last Tuesday. We made the most of it by tracking down several pounds of acorns and finishing up our late season aster collection (for real this time!)

Volunteer performing a float test on collected acorns Garry oak (Quercus garryana) seems to be having a mast year in our region. Mast years occur across numerous tree species; they are marked by an abundant production of nuts. One theory as to why mast years occur is 'predator saturation'. Animals which feed off acorns have generally stable populations every year. When a mast year occurs with a surplus of acorns, they are unable to eat them all and acorns have a much higher likelihood of germinating.

We test the viability of our collected acorns by doing a 'float test'. Insect damaged and dehydrated acorns typically have some air space inside the shell and tend to float. Acorns which sink are kept for propagation.

Volunteer performing a float test on collected acorns. Credit: Meredith Rafferty.

Wolf Haven: It was quick work for everyone to collect a few pounds of acorns. So easy in fact, we had to call off the hunt after about 15 minutes, or we would have easily collected our 20 pound goal at our first stop.

Cavness: One half of the group collected acorns under a recent burn at Cavness, while not as productive as Wolf Haven, we came away with several pounds. The other half ventured wet boots and legs as we waded into tall grass to do a last minute harvest of Eaton's aster Symphotrichum eatonii.

Garry oak acorn at Glacial Heritage Preserve. Credit: Meredith Rafferty. Glacial Heritage: We stopped at Glacial for lunch and harvested some Missouri goldenrod Solidago missouriensis var. tolmieana. 

Solidago missiouriensis var. tolmiana seedheads. Credit: Meredith Rafferty. Mima Mounds:Our final stop involved more Solidago missiouriensis var. tolmiana collecting. There were numerous very productive mounds on the Southern end of Mima mounds where we had good luck with White-topped aster Seriocarpus rigidus the previous week.

Once again, thank you to everyone who came out this year. It was such a productive and fun season that went by far too fast!